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Cova de Can Marçà

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This is a fantastic world of colours and shapes. The ceiling of this extensive cave is shaped like a golden, vaulted canopy resting on glittering columns that were formed over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. At their feet extend small lakes shining with a brilliant green as if the water was pure emerald encased in silver walls and covered by a dark blue ceiling, the colour of the night sky.

This is Cova de Can Marçà, the limestone cave in Puerto de San Miguel, the most impressive limestone cave on the island. In the 100,000 years and more of its life, it has seen the days when Ibiza was the top of a mountain range more than 4,000 metres high. Then, thousands of years later, it found itself deep below sea level. In the course of these 100,000 years Ibiza was covered for many years by glaciers, then once again it was a desert. The climatic changes of the centuries have caused its rocks to split and crack, allowing water to seep in, washing the calcium out of the rock material and building up stalagmites and stalactites from the resulting calceous solution. This was the origin of the Cova de Can Marçà.

For many centuries it remained undiscovered, but about 100 years ago, smugglers found their way into the labyrinth of caves, caverns and passages cut deep into the coastal rocks that make up the Cova. Presumably it was not the bizarre beauty of the grandiose stalactites that grow from the lofty ceilings of the caves which caught their eye, nor the equally impressive stalagmites that rise to meet these stalactites. For a smuggler these caves were simply perfect places to conduct their business.

cova de san marcaThere were many points to distinguish it: initially the entrance, situated 12 metres above sea level and completely invisible, yet easily reached with ladders. Then there was a sort of emergency exit, or rather two, which they marked with red and black arrows and crosses which are still in evidence today. Arms, spirits and later cigarettes were the most common stock in trade of the smugglers.

How to get to the Cova de Can Marçà:

Take the road to San Miguel. At the town, continue in the direction of Port de San Miguel following the signs indicating "grotto" or "Cueva".
Incidentally: make sure that you do not miss the marvellous view over the Bay of San Miguel and the Murada Peninsula from the entrance to the cave.
On the peninsula you will notice one of the watch towers from which, in former times, the authorities tried to monitor the movements of pirates

Today, visitors can follow the footsteps of the smugglers of old on their secret ways and passages through this limestone cave. You enter down an almost innumerable number of steps cut into the rock, leading down, down, down, till you reach the entrance to this veritable underground world of magical forms, shapes and colours. These include the Hall of Lakes stained emerald green from the moss growing within them. These lakes follow each other in descending steps. Beyond these are the stalagmites and stalactites rising like pillars and columns and adding just one centimetre to their size every hundred years.

Then there is the Templo de Buda, the Temple of Buddha, where stalagmites and stalactites have joined to form glittering piers that taper towards their middles. The cave was named after a limestone formation that resembles a sitting Buddha. However, the highlight of the Cova de Can Marçà is the Cascada, the waterfall that falls like a soft veil from the upper part of the cave into the dark depths below. It is floodlit and shimmers in a variety of colours, red, green, sometimes gold. The effect is enhanced by appropriate music, and does not strike one as a riot of kitsch, as might be expected ? on the contrary, it is simply overwhelming and makes one?s flesh creep. But find out for yourself...

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