Covetes dels Moros

Covetes dels Moros de Bocairent


Useful Information

Location: Ruta Covetes, Bocairent
(38.770263, -0.606882)
Open: All year Tue-Fri 11, 12, 13, Sat, Sun, Hol 11, 12, 13, 16:30, 17:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 3.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaKeller
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
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Accessibility:  
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Address: Covetes dels Moros, Ruta Covetes, s/n, 46880 Bocairent, Valencia, Tel: +34-962-90-50-62.
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

1908 part of the lowest cave destroyed by explosive in a try to improve access.

Description

The Covetes dels Moros (Moorish Caves) are a series of artificial caves in a huge cliff face 300 meters from the medieval town Bocairent. There are about fifty windows, each giving access to a single chambers, and there are nine windows without a chamber, which thought to be incomplete. The windows are on three different levels but without actually forming regular floors. They all have anchoring rings for ropes, and runnels and grooves for fitted doors and window frames. Probably the majority of these chambers were constructed as isolated units. But they were connected by doors in the walls while they were still in use. Then there are vertical shafts which are called chimney, which connect the different levels. One of the windows was located lower than the rest of the group, at a height of about 8 m above the ground. It has no internal chamber but leads to a chimney with a staircase of carved steps. This part was partly destroyed in 1908 when the try to improve access with dynamite failed.

There are actually four types of cave. The most common is just a rectangular chamber of varied sizes, on average from 2.5 m x 3 m to 2.5 m x 4 m. They do not contain silos or other noteworthy features. Then there are rare caves which are called Calvary, Colomar, and En Gomar caves.

The origin of the caves is unknown. Unfortunately there is no way to date artificial caves. Normally they are dated by content, which should be younger, but those caves were completely empty. There were no inscriptions, murals or frescoes. Local legend says they were built during the Moorish occupation, that's how they got their name.

Without knowing the origin, there is not much known about the use. But some aspects seem quite obvious. The caves were not easily accessible and not suitable for living, so they were most likely used for storage. They are quite practical for any sort of food storage, because they were out of reach for any kind of pests. However, during the years many possible explanations like ancient funeral chambers, granaries, or a Visigoth monastery were considered. Recent archaeological explorations by the Archaeological Museum of Ontinyent and the Albaida Valley (MAOVA) suggest that they were secure granaries. They also confirmed the Andalusí period (Hispano-Arabic) age, probably between the 10th and 11th century. It seems that this type of granary model was brought over from the north of Africa. The Berber and the Tazaghin in the High Atlas use similar granaries.

In recent years a metal stairway has been installed to access the lowest cave. From here it is possible to walk through a series of connected caves.