Cueves, the cave village of Asturias

Cueves is the cave village of Ribadesella that amazes everyone who visits it. The village of Cueves, in Castilian Cueves, is a town in the Asturian parish of Junco. This in turn is part of the council of Ribadesella, famous for its beaches and the passage of the Northern Way. It is not surprising that the town is known as water caves. This town is located at the foot of a mountain and through its extension runs the river Sella, famous for its descent, which gives even more charm to this town of Asturias.

The only way to access the village of Cueves is through the cave known as the Cuevona. This natural cave is one of the few examples worldwide of a paved cave, as vehicles can drive through it. The uniqueness lies in the fact that you can only enter Cueves through this 300-meter long tunnel in the middle of the mountain. The path is fascinating, as it is accompanied by a stream and the stalactites, columns and stalagmites that have formed inside. However, few know of another access route, thanks to the railway halt that is located in the village.

How to get to the Cueves Caves

cave cueves

Entrance to the cave. | Shutterstock

The Cuevona de Cueves is a natural cave that serves as access to the Asturian village that gives it its name. By road it is located approximately 7 kilometers from Ribadesella, following the route to the junction of Junco while admiring a landscape of great beauty. The mountain is crossed by La Cuevona to reach Cueves. This natural pass, used by the inhabitants of Cueves to move around, was paved as a means of communication. Illuminated with dim light, it is an experience both on foot and by car, because observing the geological formations found here is almost magical.
Cueves Cave.

Cuevona of Cueves

Cuevona of Cueves. | Shutterstock

Of calcareous formation, the cave maintains its original structure. Inside you can see vaults, stalactites and stalagmites, lava flows and columns that take on shapes for which the imagination has given names such as ‘the beards of Santiago’ or even ‘the devil’s tongue‘.

A walk through the interior of a mountain through 300 meters of calm where you can also observe the special flora and fauna that develops here. Mosses, ferns, fungi, algae and lichens that are located especially at the entrance and exit of the Cuevona. In the case of the fauna, although human presence has caused the departure of some species, others such as frogs, blind salamanders and bats still make the Cuevona their home. However, few specimens are located here.

The small Cueves

After the Cuevona we find the village of Cueves, on the banks of the river sella and under a mountain, a rural small village in which barely 100 inhabitants live. The road practically ends at the entrance of the village, so this will be traveled on foot. Upon arrival in Cueves the first thing we see is a hermitage dedicated to Santiago. This dedication is common in the area due to the Northern Way to Santiago. The rest of the houses in the village have a traditional architecture that contrasts with others that were built for holiday use.

As the economy of Cueves is based from its origins in agriculture, it is possible to observe in the locality different raised granaries, known as hórreos, because there was one per family. These structures were used to protect the grain. Of all those that existed here, five are still preserved today. Some of them are still in operation. In fact, it is the village of the municipality that has the largest number of them.

Hórreo in cueves

Hórreo. | Photo: Lourdes Cardenal

It should be noted that the hórreos of Asturias have their own characteristics that distinguish them from those of León and Galicia. Their square structure rests on the trabes, wooden slats. Depending on the area in which they are located, the roof of the hórreo can be of tile, rye straw or slate. In Cueves the roof is of tile. To prevent rodents from climbing up and eating what was preserved in the hórreos, the beams rest on a slab called muela. The stairway that leads to them never touches the ground or the structure of the hórreo, to prevent vermin from ascending.

On the other hand, the visit can be completed with some hiking, taking advantage of the fact that the Route of the Mills begins its route in the same village of Cueves. Thanks to this you can learn how these hydraulic infrastructures used to work.


About the author