Gruta de San José

Rio Subterréneo de San José - Les Coves De Sant Josep


Useful Information

Location: Near Vall D'Uixó. 6 km from the N340, 25 km south west Castellón.
(39.824446, -0.252874)
Open: JAN to MAY daily 11-13:15, 15:30-17:45.
JUN to JUL daily 11-13:15, 15:30-18:30.
AUG daily 11-13:15, 15:30-19:15.
SEP daily 11-13:15, 15:30-18:30.
OCT to DEC daily 11-13:15, 15:30-17:45.
Closed 01-JAN, 06-JAN. 256-DEC.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 14, Children (1 m to 13) EUR 8, Children (<1m) free, Seniors EUR 10, Disabled EUR 10, Students EUR 10.
Family: Parents EUR 9, Children (1 m to 13) EUR 6.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SpeleologyRiver cave.
Light: LightLED Lighting
Dimension: L=2,750 m, T=20 °C.
Guided tours: D=45 min, L=1,0150 m, By Boat 800 m, By Foot 250 m. V=140,000/a [2019]
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Rio Subterréneo de San José, Paratge de Sant Josep s/n 12600, La Vall d´Uixó, Tel: +34-964-690-576. E-mail:
Ajuntamiento de la Vall d'Uixo', Plaza de Centro, 1, 12600 La Vall D'Uixo', Tel: +34-964-690184, Fax: +34-964-667662.
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

1797 mentioned in Historia Natural, Geografía, Agricultura, Población y Frutos del Reino de Valencia (Observations on History Natural, Geography, Agriculture, Population and Fruits of Kingdom of Valencia) by the Naturalist Josep Cavanilles (Vol I, pp 115-116).
1902 two groups competed in exploring the cave and reached the Boca del Forn sump.
1915 exploration by the famous historian Carlos Sarthou Carreres.
1926 a party of explorers reached the Llac de Diana (Lake of Diana) but was unable to cross the Galeria dels Sifons (Gallery of the Siphons).
1929 Herminio Arroyas Martinez died in the cave while trying to develop the cave for tourists by installing footbridges.
1936 footbridges replaced by a boat, electric light installed.
1950 new entrance tunnel built to avoid the Mouth of the Furnace.
1954 explorations by the cavers group of the Centre Excursioniste de València.
1958 first survey by the same group.
13-NOV-1960 Galeria dels Sifons finally crossed by Joaquin Saludes from the Centre d'Investigacions i Activitats Subacuatiques de Valencia.
14-APR-1961 tunnel completed to reach the cave behind the Galeria dels Sifons.
1971 new galleries discovered.
1973 new parts opened to the public.
1975 new galleries discovered.
2019 LED light by Cave Lighting.

Description

The Grutas de San José or Rio Subterréneo de San José is, as the name says, a river cave. The visit is done by boat, and the river is said to be the longest navigable cave river in Europe (what ever this means). Excavations (in the dry parts obviously) revealed Paleolithic remains and cave paintings which were C14 dated around 16,000 years old.

The cave was first mentioned by the naturalist, illustrator, and botanist of Valencian origin Josep Cavanilles. At the end of the 18th century he described the spring in his book.

"…se han aprovechado para el riego las aguas que nacen por la raíz del Cerro de San Josep… al mediodía y casi al nivel de la rambla o río Belcaire, que corre por su derecha, tiene dos cuevas que se comunican… aún en estaciones muy secas sale un pie cubico de agua…”
”…The waters that spring from the Cerro de San Josep have been used for irrigation… in the south and almost at the level of the Belcaire ravine or river, which runs on its right, there are two caves that communicate with each other… even during very dry seasons, a cubic foot of water comes out…"
Antonio José Cavanilles (1797): Observaciones sobre la Historia Natural, Geografía, Agricultura, Población y Frutos del Reino de Valencia (Observations on Natural History, Geography, Agriculture, Population and Fruits of the Kingdom of Valencia), volumen I, páginas 115-116. En Madrid : en la Imprenta Real : siendo gerente D. Pedro Julian Pereyra. online

In later centuries other historians, such as Sebastián Miñano or Pascual Madoz, also cited the existence of this cavity in their geography works. From the 19th century there are descriptions of the Font de San Josep, at which the neighbors gathered for the Festa de les Flors. But over centuries nobody dared to enter the river cave.

The first exploration happened in 1902, when the cave was first explorated by boat. Two groups of people competed to see who was better, which was actually not a good idea. The competition force a young man to enter the sump Boca del Forn and almost lose his life. As a result the exploration was stopped. But still exploration of the cave went on, and the explored parts were opened to the public by artificial tunnels. And finally the cave cost a life in 1929 when Herminio Arroyas Martinez died in the cave while trying to develop the cave for tourists by installing footbridges. As a result the footbridges were replaced by a boat tour which was opened to the public in 1936. The exploration of the cave continued until today. And with new discoveries the show cave was extended too. The end of the cave has not been reached, when one sump is overcome, the next one waits behind. Even today there are now or then new discoveries.

The surroundings of the cave have a very good infrastructure. There are not only souvenirs and cafe, there are restaurants like paelleros and barbecues. There are also two swimming pools and children's play area. The cave is located in the outskirts of the town La Vall d´Uixó, behind the cave the Sierra del Espadán starts. The nature protection area is a popular hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking area.