THE magnificent Nerja Caves celebrate 61 years since their historic discovery and a new seal of excellence. The anniversary was commemorated with a tribute to the five boys whose fatidic findings changed the whole town forever.
The boys from Maro -a neighbouring village- found the large cave system in 1959 when they entered through a narrow sinkhole. Manuel Muñoz, one of Nerja’s famous five, recalled the moment they first entered the caves. He explained that his father was a bricklayer, whose hammer they took to secretly break the stalactites that blocked the 60-centimetre entrance.
Little did the youngsters know, that they had found what would be Andalucia and the Costa del Sol’s most visited natural monument. Their daring explorations transformed the coastal fishing town into a great tourist and cultural attraction.
To mark the special occasion, Manuel returned to the site with his brother Miguel and their three friends, Francisco Navas, José Torres and the widow of José Luis Barber, María López. Excited, they posed together by the small hole through which they sneaked in 61 years ago.
Since the caves opened to the public in 1960, more than 18 million people have passed through its tourist galleries. These galleries barely represent a third of the five-kilometre underground expanse, that houses more than 400 prehistoric paintings. Skeletal remains indicate that the caverns were inhabited from 25,000 BC by humans and cave hyena. Today, the natural monument is a great source of cultural and economic wealth in the area. Concerts are also regularly held in one of the large chambers, which forms a natural amphitheatre.