In the South of Spain, within the province of Granada, sitting alongside the river, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is the small city of Guadix.
Wander into the hills that overlook the more modernised centre to find the cave houses and their occupants, the Trogloditas, presumably from the prehistoric name given to people who live in caves and not because they are hermits, old fashioned or ignorant.
Dating back to the 16th century when people dug into the clayish hills to create their homes, little can be seen of them except the chimneys poking through, gentle wisps of smoke rising from the wood burners used for cooking and heating below.
On the inside they are bigger than seems possible from the outside as the low tunnels burrow down into bedrooms, bathrooms and storage areas. The natural shells of these homes are said to be good for the occupants, offering tranquillity, unpolluted air and a consistent temperature all year round. As these homes naturally stay cooler in the summer and retain heat throughout the winter, they are also seen to have environmental and economic benefits alongside those that are health related.
Some caves remain as homes whilst others are rented out as holiday accommodation.
Within Europe, this is the largest cluster of habitable caves and they have inspired artists with various interests including writers, painters, photographers and film makers.
In 1936, the Spanish movie Morena Clara was partly filmed within the district of the caves, as were Don Quixote, Emerald City and various others over the years.
“It is a magical place for cinema topographic filming.”
Around the cave quarter and the city of Guadix are viewpoints, museums, churches, convents, the granary, traditional houses, shrines and the Caves of Guadix Trail.
Exploring the streets of the city or looking down from the caves, the prehistoric, Roman and Arabic influences can still be seen today.