"Cuevas de Artá" Porto Cristo Things to Do Tip by Tolik

Porto Cristo Things to Do: 9 reviews and 13 photos


The entrance to the caves is stunning, with a majestic stairway leading up to the yawning hole. If you only have time to visit one set of caves on the east coast, this is the one to see. Now that they are a sanitized tourist attraction, it is hard to imagine how French speleologist Edouard Martel felt when he first stepped into these caves, dark, mysterious and terrifying, in 1876. In fact they had been known for centuries - Jaume I found 2,000 Arabs hiding here with their cattle during the Christian conquest and they were later used by hermits, pirates and smugglers - but it was Martel who first studied and chronicled these grottoes, 46m above the sea at Cap Vermell, at the instigation of Archduke Ludwig Salvator. Another early visitor was Jules Verne, (the caves are said to have inspired his Journey to the Center of the Earth, published in 1864), Victor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas.

The guided tour comes with special effects and the various chambers are given Dantesque names - Hell, Purgatory, Paradise. You enter an impressive vestibule and immediately see walls blackened by the torches used to light the caves for early tourists in the 1800s. The descent into Hell is swiftly followed by a illuminated display. Stalactites point down from the moldy roof like daggers, somehow defying gravity. One of the chambers is as large as the nave of Palma Cathedral, and the Queen of Pillars, a stalagmite 22m tall, could almost be a Gothic column. It is growing upwards at the rate of 2cm every 100 years, in another 5,000 years or so it will be joined to the ceiling. In the Hall of Flags stalactites up to 50 long hang in the shape of partly unfurled flags. You emerge from the caves to a view of the sea, framed by the cavern entrance.

Disabled visitors and others with limited mobility will find the staircases in here particularly difficult. All visitors should be sensibly shod, as the floor can be slippery.

Directions: Buses from (4 daily, 15 min); Cala Rajada (Mon-Sat 4 daily, 25 min). Caves often posed in Castillian Cuevas de Artá. Guided tours run daily 10 ? 19, 10 ?. Tours leave every 30 min, allow about 1 hour for the visit. Phone: 971 84 12 93

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 6, 2003
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