Canelobre de Busot Caves, a genuine limestone cathedral

The Cuevas del Canelobre de Busot is one of the great geological treasures of the province of Alicante. It is located 700 metres above sea level in the Sierra Cabeçó D’Or mountain range; a few kilometres from Busot, in the province of Alicante. Likewise, its surroundings are ideal for spending several days here, given the wide range of tourist attractions on offer. Highlights include the Ethnic Music Museum, Busot Castle and the Cabezón de Oro route, as well as other mountain activities. In any case, a visit to the cave is one of the best active tourism plans in the region.

Cuevas del Canelobre Busot

Coves del Canelobre. | Ayuntamiento de Busot

Jurassic caves that once served as an aviation workshop

The caves are made of limestone from the Upper Jurassic period and are 145 million years old. However, it is believed that they were not discovered until the 10th century, with the Moors being responsible for the discovery. The mountain range in which the Canelobre caves are located is called Cabezón de Oro/Cabeçó D’Or. It comes from the time of Al-Andalus, when the Muslims used the word ur, which meant water. The reason for this is that this liquid ran through the interior of the cavity.

Later, in the 19th century, the first explorations began. Although it may seem incredible, it was not until the second half of the 20th century that the cave was opened to the public. Specifically, it was in the 1960s, when tourist and geological interest in the cave began to grow. Such is the impression caused by this natural wonder that it has been compared to enclaves in Tolkien’s novels.

One of the great historical curiosities of the site is that the Republican side used them to carry out aircraft repairs during the Civil War. Specifically, 3 metal platforms were erected where the engines for the Soviet aircraft Polikarpov I-16 were built, thus becoming a real aircraft workshop. In fact, the 45-metre-long tunnel leading into the cavern was built for this purpose.

Coves del Canelobre Busot

Coves del Canelobre. | Ayuntamiento de Busot

The cathedral-like interior of the Caves of Canelobre de Busot

Although they are made up of several rooms, the main space of the Cuevas del Canelobre de Busot is the best known and the one that tourists usually visit. It has a whopping 80,000 cubic metres, which is accessed through the aforementioned tunnel. It is notable for its formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and rock jellyfish; caused by the erosion of water in the rock over the centuries. To clarify one of the most frequent doubts on this subject, stalactites are formed from the ceiling to the floor and stalagmites the other way round.

Cuevas del Canelobre Busot

Coves del Canelobre. | Ayuntamiento de Busot

As a curiosity, apart from those mentioned below, there are numerous rocks in these caves that have shapes reminiscent of everyday objects or animals: a virgin, a jellyfish, a pig, a dragon… There is even a character from The Simpsons. Looking for new similarities when observing the stalagmites is one of the visitors’ favourite activities.

These caves are called “Canelobre”, which means “candelabrum” in Valencian, because of the shape of a stalagmite inside. This formation is more than 100,000 years old. The “Sagrada Familia“, a 25-metre-high rock formation that bears a certain resemblance to Gaudí’s famous work, is also one of the forms that most surprises visitors.

Sagrada Familia Coves del Canelobre Busot

Sagrada Familia in the caves. | Ayuntamiento de Busot

Finally, one of the details most remembered by visitors to these grottoes is the dome. It is truly impressive, to the point that it is often compared to that of a cathedral; as it is 70 metres high. Thanks to this, it is one of the highest domes in the Valencian Community and in the whole of Spain.

Visits to the Canelobre Caves

One of the best aspects of these caves is that they can be visited inside. Moreover, the tours are accompanied by expert guides. They show the 80,000 cubic metre room and explain the history of the cave in a tour that lasts about 45 minutes. Such is the tourist interest of the cave that every year it attracts 75,000 tourists from all over Spain and the world. It is worth noting that the caves have a stable temperature of 20 degrees all year round and a humidity of 90%. It is therefore advisable to take these data into account before entering the cave.

Cabezón de Oro/Cabeçó D’Or Busot

Sierra Cabezón de Oro/Cabeçó D’Or. | Shutterstock

In terms of location, the Busot Canelobre Caves are only 23 kilometres from Alicante, 47 kilometres from Benidorm and 50 kilometres from Elche, making them easily and quickly accessible by car. The basic visit is a highly recommended experience for both children and adults. For the more sporty and adventurous, there are also areas where you can go caving. With these you can discover the details of the cave in greater depth; reaching places that the general public cannot access.

But the most surprising activity that takes place inside the cave are musical performances, due to the good acoustics of the cave. A special sound that adds to the lighting decoration and the beautiful views of the surroundings to generate an almost unique experience. This is reminiscent of other telluric settings such as the Nerja Cave.

Entrada a las cuevas del Canelobre

Entrance to the caves. | Shutterstock

A visit to Busot can be completed with other tourist attractions in the town; such as the Museum of Ethnic Music where you can discover instruments from all eras. Also of interest is the local castle, of Arab origin, or active tourism activities such as climbing, hiking or cycling. It should be noted that the entrance to the caves is also used to enter the aforementioned museum.

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