On the first Sunday of every month, the town of Rojales, just a few kilometres inland from Guardamar, hosts an unusual artisan market. You can buy all sorts of paintings from a risqué nude to a scene from a bullfight. There are also trinkets in all shapes, sizes and colours, and at the moment of course you can buy Christmas cards and decorations.
What makes this market unusual is not what you can buy, but its location. The stalls are set among the troglodyte caves of Cuevas del Rodeo, most of which were hollowed out in the 18th and 19th centuries. Inside many of the caves you will find an artist at work. There are leather workers, sculptors and artists galore as you wander around the area popping in and out of various caves. It is also surprisingly warm in the underground dwellings.
The market may take place on the first Sunday of every month, but you can call in any day of the week and find somebody at work. The best time seems to be around midday when most will be active in some capacity.
With a bit of luck you will come across cave number 13. There we met fascinating Aida as I called her! Aida is from Sweden and creates art from recycled goods and discarded junk. Her creations may not be to everybody’s taste but I certainly loved it.
It was a joy to see these artisans at work. None of them will get rich plying their trade here. It would seem to be a labour of love for most. What irks them most is a lack of publicity and poor signposting from the town. They deserve far more visitors than they receive, and with that, far more trade.
Dotted around this extraordinary site are a collection of sculptures made by one of the artists in residence. The bizarre collection of rusting metal exhibits features a bicycle, an umbrella and even a piano, all set with the magnificent Vega Baja opening up behind them.
Art lovers and those simply looking for a quirky place to visit should head to Rojales and follow the signs for “Cuevas del Rodeo”. One vital sign is missing though, so as you head up a steep hill, look out for an Egyptian pyramid painted on the side of a house. That’s where you need to turn right!!
You can find out more about the caves and future special events on their webpage.