Cueva de las Güixas

Grutas de Villanúa


Useful Information

Location: At the road E7 from France to Spain. N240, turn north in Jaca az roundabout, take N-330a (E7) 15 km to Villanúa.
(42.682717, -0.532242)
Open: JAN to JUN Wed-Fri 12, 18, Sat 10:30, 12, 16:30, 18, Sun 10:30, 12.
JUL to mid-JUL daily 10:30, 12, 16:30, 18.
Mid-JUL to mid-AUG 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19.
Mid-AUG to AUG daily 10:30, 12, 16:30, 18.
SEP to DEC Wed-Fri 12, 18, Sat 10:30, 12, 16:30, 18, Sun 10:30, 12.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 9, Children (4-14) EUR 7.50, Children (0-3) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 7.50.
Tickets sold only online.
Validate tickets at Visitor Center 15 min before the tour.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours: L=800 m, D=60 min.
Murci-visita: D=2 h.
Sendero de la Cueva de Las Güixas: D=2 h.
Prehistoria en la Cueva de Las Güixas: D=2 h.
Visita teatralizada con la Bruja Guirandana: D=90 min.
V=31,000/a [2019]
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Cueva de las Güixas, Av. de la Fuente, 1, 22870 Villanúa, Huesca, Tel: +34-974-37-84-65. E-mail:
Oficina de Turismo, Turismo Villanúa S. L., Centro de Interpretación "Subterránea", 22870 Villanúa, Tel: +34-974-378-465. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

16-SEP-1929 illuminated and opened to the public founded by the SIPA (Society of Aragonese Initiatives and Progress).
1929 cave awarded 5000 pesetas for its lighting by the Tourist Board.
21-JUL-1936 cave closed due to the Civil War, electrical installation dismantled for use in the trenches on the Biescas front.
1945 guided tours resumed without electric light.
07-APR-1972 cave accident.
1984 cave closed to prevent possible accidents.
1995 renovation finance by the Villanúa City Council.
1996 cave reopened and soon becomes the main tourist attraction in Villanúa.
2004 during excavations Roman coin discovered.
09-JUL-2009 visitor center Subterránea inaugurated.

Description

The Cueva de Las Güixas is located at the foot of the Collarada mountain (2,886 m asl). The cave is a former river cave, which is reactivated in times of thaw or after heavy rains. As a result the tour path might be flooded and alarms activated. If this happens currently running tours leave the cave immediately and no tours will be held until the water recedes. Tickets are refunded if visitors show up personally, which is a bit harsh. We guess its more a matter of technical possibilities.

The visitor center is located at the northern end of the village Villanúa and is called Subterránea (Underground). Inaugurated in 2009, the Interpretation Center has innovative audiovisual and didactic display, which explain all the secrets of the cave. The exhibition includes the history of Villanúa, its past, present and the possible future. The Collarada Room explains the formation of the mountain massif and the caves inside. And finally there is an exhibition on the animals living inside the cave. The archaeological section is a cave replica, where a stone age man tells about his time and daily life. Beneath the ticket office there is also a tourist office, a room for temporary exhibitions and a multipurpose room for conferences, screenings and other events. You can explore the exhibition while waiting for your tour to begin or afterwards.

The cave tour begins at the visitor center. After a walk upstream for about 250 m, the actual cave entrance is reached. The cave has an 800 m long tourist route. One highlight is the chamber called Chimenea (Chimney) or Dolina (Dolina), where theceiling as collapsed and light and air, and even bats, can enter the cave. The other is the Catedral (Cathedral), the biggest chamber which is 16 m high. The normal visits are a first hand experience to learn about the geology and fauna of this place and being able to appreciate this fragile landscape of great environmental value. The cave was declared a Lugar de Interés Comunitario (LIC), a Site of Community Interest, which are areas of special conservation, integrated into the Natura 2000 Network. Quite impressive bureaucrat babble for the fact that the cave is protected, which is actually quite normal for caves. Especially protected are the bats in the cave, but all other animals in the cave are also protected.

For groups, especially for school groups, there are four thematic tours available. The Murci-visita (Bat Cave Tour) is dedicated to the bats in the cave, which are observed with various observation tools The Sendero de la Cueva de Las Güixas (Trail of the Cave of Las Güixas) is dedicated to the various protected aspects of the cave, the geology, the fauna, and the flora. The Prehistoria en la Cueva de Las Güixas (Prehistory in the Cave of Las Güixas) is dedicated to the archaeological importance of the cave and the enigmatic megalithic constructions in teh area. The Visita teatralizada con la Bruja Guirandana (visit with the Guirandana Witch) is guided by the valley's best-known witch, Guirandana de Lay. As the cave never was "a meeting place for healers, sorceresses and witches", this is actually a purely fictitious and entertaining visit, not an educational one. The Brujas de Villanúa are women accused of witchcraft in the Aragonese town of Villanúa in the 15th century.

The cave was opened as a show cave with electric light in 1929. In July 1936 it was closed due to the Civil War and in September the entire electrical installation was remove to be used in the trenches on the Biescas front. Later in the war it became a prison of the Batallones de Castigo (Punishment Battalions), which were regime prisoners used as forced labourer to construct bunkers, which still exist throughout the valley today. They were intended to prevent a possible invasion of the Maquis from France. With the end of the war the cave was reopened, but it seems the electric light was not restored, the cave was guided with handheld lamps. This was rather difficult, and to prevent possible accidents it was closed again in 1984. There was no funding for a new light system until finally in 1995 Villanúa City Council financed the new light system and the cave was renovated and reopened in 1996. The cave became the main tourist attraction in Villanúa with 20,000 visitors per year.

The river cave is quite difficult to explore and there are numerous sumps which requires diving. On 07-APR-1972 the cavers Jean Pierre Vilmint and Serge Viaud crossed two siphons of 5 and 75 m in length. They found a long air-filled passage with a waterfall at the end. But on the return through the siphon the rope gets stuck and the divers are trapped under water. They manage to return to the passage behind, but only by leaving the diving suit of Viaud in the siphon. Vilmint revives Viaud. Then he decided to dive again, to retrieve his partner's diving suit and go outside for help, but he dies trying. Viaud is alive but very weak, and waits in the cave 54 hours for help. Finally several French divers, which were actually inexperienced in cave diving, located Vilmint's body and managed to extract it from the siphon with great difficulty but no further accident. Then the Catalan cave divers Petit, Figueras and Lacayo, from the GET, located Viaud and managed to take him out.