Nerja is a little town in Andalucia on Spain’s Costa del Sol. Sixty kilometres east of Malaga.
The lovely ‘El Balcon de Europa’, a platform offering unimpeded views over the Mediterranean and the rocks below, is a popular place to explore.
The famous caves
In 1959, five young lads from a nearby village were kicking around a football when it suddenly disappeared into a hole in the ground.
Efforts to retrieve the ball led to the discovery of one of Europe’s most significant and essential caves complexes.
Another version of the story says they were looking for bats at night, which escaped into ominous cracks and holes and thus led to the discovery.
Whichever the truth, the caves have been found and are an exciting attraction of Nerja.
Stretching for more than 5 kilometres, the netherworld wonder can be accessed by easy wooden stairs and walkways which lead around the caves on a well-indicated path.
Only a small part is open to the public. The rest is still being excavated and explored by scientists.
The caves are divided into five so-called galleries inspired by the images of the stalagmites and stalactites project.
Soaring to more than cathedral height, the gallery called ‘Waterfalls’ boasts the giant stalagmite in the world, 25m wide.
Other galleries are called ‘The Organ’ and ‘The Fantasy’. Some prehistoric finds are displayed in showcases along the walls of the entry gallery.
After crossing what is called ‘The Bridge’, the caves open up to a space often used as a venue for the International Festival of Music and Dance, thanks to a natural auditorium and excellent acoustics.
The festival usually takes place in July.
The Spanish fan
Rounding a corner, another discovery awaits a new boutique cum craft shop specializing in one item only: the fan, a fashion accessory no elegant Spanish lady will ever be seen without.
However, fans are more than a fashion accessory; they form part of Spain’s history, art, and culture. Their use was and is a very sophisticated means of communication.
It’s a Frenchman, Didier Borgeaud, who collaborates with Spanish artist Amalia Fernandez, whose mission is to revive the tradition of the Spanish fan, creating unique pieces of art, using only the finest and local materials to dazzle with a more modern version of the fan.
There is no better souvenir to bring home from a trip to this beautiful and relatively sedate part of Andalucia.