The Rebelism Was Invited to Try Out The Almagruz Cave Complex
Have you ever wanted to experience what it was like for our ancestors? Avoiding dangerous wild beasts, hunting and gathering, wearing animal hides and learning how to make fire in natural caves? Well now you can. Sort of. We were given two nights to review and photograph these marvels and as you will see, they are not your ordinary caves.
500 Year old Cave Houses
Cave dwelling or troglodyte living is nothing new, in fact some estimates range from 1 million years to 2 million years, but that type of cave dwelling was very different to the more modern use of the term.
Modern’ cave dwelling has been going on all over Andalucia for over 1000 years, brought to spain from the east with the Moorish Occupation possibly around 800AD to 900AD. Some of these older examples still exist today, some in better condition than others, but the one we will be reviewing today is the largely unknown Almagruz Cave Complex, deep in the dry Andalucian desert.
As you drive up the dusty path towards the complex you are stopped in your tracks. It really is breathtaking, unusual in every sense. To the left you have the 550 year old preserved cave house and museum, and in the middle stretching to the far right are a not-to-carefully placed spread of 8 luxury cave houses with their very own naturally heated swimming pool. It’s sensory overload! Where to begin?
Keep it Cool
The original 550 year old preserved cave house and museum was what has captivated locals for centuries. It is a maze of oddly shaped rooms held together with an extremely airy and light atmosphere, which is the result of the tall thin glassless windows. In high summer temperatures can reach in excess of 45c so it is of utmost importance to keep your living spaces cool, airy and insulated. This is easily achieved with the mostly sand and small part clay composition of the cave structures, which not only allow air to pass through easily but also help to purify and cool it. Perfect!
Inside you will see how life would have been 500 to 400 years ago, from what would appear to have been a very wealthy family name. This is by no means a feeble attempt at living. It is thought that the cave was extended over the centuries to include more rooms as well as the 1st and 2nd floors (both of these extra floors were out of bounds due to health and safety reasons however).
After you have spent the best part of the afternoon in the old cave house museum you will most likely want to see where you are going to be living for the next couple of nights, and these modern built examples don’t dissapoint. They were dug out as an extension to the old cave complex in 2002, and completed in 2003.
And what makes these different to the old cave house and most of the ones in and around Andalucia is their sheer size! Digging these caves is hard work with a hammer and chisel, the usual method dating back thousands of years, but these were dug out with machines, big machines!
As you can see, nothing has been spared!
All of the cave houses boast 12ft high roofs and some 60ft deep floor space. They are luxury in every sense of the word, a type of easy lifestyle that most people are trying to get back to today.
No matter what your tastes are, you can’t help but be sucked into the world of ancient luxury. I am unsure if Manuel the owner and architect, has a deep and educated knowledge of interior design or if he and his partner just used what they had. It has an effortless thrown together look throughout but at the same time you know it has been well considered in some way, it just flows.
Nothing disappoints here. All the usual boxes were ticked, clean bedding, condiments, bible, TV, tea and coffee and your very own cats and chicken. In fact lots of them, probably in excess of 10 cats and 8 chicken, all charming, welcoming and friendly. So if you like animals, and need some animal therapy you will certainly find that here too. The free fresh eggs both mornings were also a bonus.
You are probably wondering what it was like to sleep inside a cave? Like nothing you have ever experienced before! As the bedrooms in every cave are situated at the very back, in the deepest part, the nights are ultra cool and chilly, which is perfect because trying to sleep in the south of Spain in high summer is challenging with 25c to 30c nights. As well as that you are in absolute silence, it’s a deafening silence, so quiet and deep you start to hear silence itself! But all the while calming and relaxing and it won’t be long before you are waking up.
You will probably want to wake up early, perhaps at 7am, because you will never experience the type of calm that is possible than being sat outside this unique cave complex, under a warm morning sun, iced tea and a warming swimming pool tempting you in with its still crystal clear water. It really is something to behold.
Two nights is not long enough, a lifetime would be more apt, but it will give you an idea of what is possible, you will probably want to enquire about buying a cave house after you leave, but to my knowledge, there are none quite like the ones in Almagruz.
Prices range from low-season to high-season, for a more detailed guide on prices see their website here.
All photography by Kano Kane of The Rebelism.