Covetes dels Moros - Atlas Obscura

Covetes dels Moros

Bocairent, Spain

For many years, the origin of these enigmatic artificial caves was the subject of debate among historians. 


Just over 50 “windows” carved into an almost sheer rock face at the Fos Ravine, just outside Bocairent in the Valencia region of Spain. They open out into as many, interconnected “rooms” behind them. For many years, the origins of these windows were unclear. The earliest proposed origin was that they formed the cells of a Visigoth monastery, though recent research suggests this is unlikely.

Since about 2016 they are generally identified as granary stores of Berber origin. (You can find similar granary caves in the High Atlas mountains.) Originally these granaries were not interconnected, with each excavation belonging to a single family. But in the 17th century, connections were made to allow them to be used as a wartime refuge. Some of the windows have holes drilled in their lower corners to allow climbing ropes and ladders to be attached. It is believed that initial access for excavation was by climbing down ropes from the cliff top.

Several smaller groups of similar cave windows occur in ravines and other rock faces in the region. This system, however, is by far the largest. Recently a pair of metal staircases have been added to allow entry and exit for guided tours. While not requiring the fitness and flexibility of a spelunker, touring this fascinating system of excavations is relatively physically demanding as the trip includes significant climbing and crawling. As well as the Covetes dels Moros themselves an interpretation center is available at a, significantly smaller, artificial cave complex known as Covetes del Colomer.

Know Before You Go

The "old town" part of Bocairent is a nightmare to drive through (very narrow roads and lots of dead ends) and an even worse nightmare for parking. The nearest reliable street parking to the start of Ruta de les Covettes is at either Av. Espanaya or next to the bullfighting ring which are both in the new part of town. Both are at least 15 minutes walk to the cave pay point.

Best thing to do is head for the tourist info office, get a tourist map and lots of advice from the very helpful staff. Times of opening are on the net. In 2023, the one-hour guided tour was only €3. An alternative is to park next to the municipal cemetery and approach the site from the south. Again a significant walk.

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December 8, 2023

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