Underground marvelsThe total length of the Gruta de las Maravillas is over two kilometres, of which 1,200 metres is open to the public.
The tour starts in the Conch Chamber and leads you along the first level of galleries, where water is a feature, until you come to the Great Hall (the largest chamber in the Grotto). From there you go on to the Cathedral Chamber.
On this second level you can see a great number and variety of formations, as well as flooded gours. You drop down to the first level to view the Chickpea Chamber, the Bare Chamber and, once again, the lake, which continues all the way to the exit.
Amongst the fantastic formations you can see in the Gruta de las Maravillas are the following:
•Stalactites and stalagmites: formations that hang from the ceiling or rise up out of the ground, respectively, made by the dripping of water containing calcite. When a stalactite and a stalagmite join up the resulting formation is known as a column.
•Gours: "bathtubs", pits or pools which form in caves.
•Flowstones: these are produced in a similar way to stalactites and stalagmites but on horizontal surfaces over which water flows. They are of different shapes and colours determined by the mineral content of the water.
•Pisoliths: calcareous balls which are found in the pools of grottoes.
•Excentrics: as their name indicates, these are star-shaped, hedgehog-shaped, explosion-shaped, etc., formations.
For a long time, all these spectacular formations have made the Gruta de las Maravillas a source of inspiration for all kinds of artists, and a visiting-place for royalty, for heads of State and Government, etc., as well as thousands of ordinary people.
All in all, the Gruta de las Maravillas is a must-see for all who visit the Sierra de Aracena.
Source: Aracena council with editorial additions