Cava de Sant Blai

Useful Information

On CV-81 between Ontinyent and Villena. In the village follow the Carrer Mossén Hilario, at the northern end of village there is a parking lot. May be crowded in summer, especially in the afternoon and on weekends. Its a bit tricky with numerous one ways.
(38.768900, -0.607940)
Open: All year Tue-Fri 11-14, Sat, Sun, Hol 11-14, 16:30-19.
Fee: Adults EUR 2.
Classification: SubterraneaIce Cellars
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Address: Cava de Sant Blai, Tel: +34-
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.



The Cava de Sant Blai (Sant Blai Ice Cave) is an ice cellar, used to store ice or snow in the winter for use during the summer. The ice from Mariola was sold to customers at Xàtiva, Ontinyent, Gandía and other towns and villages in the Albaida Valley, the Costera and the Ribera. Bocairent has numerous such ice cellars, for example the Cava de En Miquel (Ice Cellar of En Miquel) and the Cavetes de Xàtiva (Xàtiva Ice Cellars). The use of the Cava de Sant Blai has been documented back to the 18th century. They are located at the path from the Medieval Quarter of Bocairent to the Moorish Caves.

The Cava de Sant Blai is a circular well, 7.7 m in diameter and 11 m deep, with a hemispherical roof. About a third of the roof is actually dug into the rock, the upper part is masonry. On top of the cupola is a manhole, which allowed the workers to enter, and to throw in snow or ice. At the bottom of the well is a passage with a ditch which drained the water produced by the melting of the snow stored inside. It is 1.8 m high and 1 m wide, and today it is used as the entrance. The floor of the well has a network of channels dug into the rock which converge at the drainage ditch. The interior walls are lined with a reddish-coloured material. A door at half height suggests another connection to the outside, but it was never completed.

This cellar has an entrance fee, open hours electric light, and is located in the village. There are numerous cellars nearby, which are not developed for tourists, but have been secured and are open for visits. There is a Ruta de Les Caves, a cellar trail connecting them. They were all built on a 1,000 m asl high mountain ridge, obviously because there is snow in the winter. Ice was obviously very well paid in the 17th century, because the collecting of the snow and the transport of the ice to the customer required massive efforts.

The Cava de En Miquel (Ice Cellar of En Miquel) is located on the northern ridge of the Sierra Mariola, to the north of the Mas de Arbres, at 1,050 m asl. This cellar was built on top of the limestone, with a 40 m wide base and eight massive pillars on the outside of the walls. The inside of the ice cellar is 14.50 m in diameter with a height of 10.20 m. There are three entrances at different heights. The lowest at the bottom is the access tunnel from outside and drainage tunnel, leading the melting water to a basin 130 m away. The entrance halfway up leads to an adjoining room with the remains of a bench and a chimney, and a domed roof. The upper entrance leads into the dome and was obviously used to throw in the snow. The ice cellar was constructed in the first half of the 17th century, in order to supply the city of Xàtiva. The keystones bear the years 1780 and 1792, probably a renovation.

The Cava Gran (Big Ice Cave) is located on top of a broad plateau, near the mountain refuge Santiago Reig del Moral. The circular well is 11 m deep and has a diameter of 15m. It was partially dug into the limestone, a sort of rectangular tower with a cupola inside built on top. It has six entrances which were used to transport the snow into the well, each 2 m high and between 1 m and 1.5 m wide.

The Cava de la Habitación is a circular ice well with a diameter of 7 m and a height of 10 m. The 30 cm thick hemispherical dome is partly collapsed. There is a tunnel at the bottom from the south which allows to enter. It was built in the 17th century. The Caveta del Buitre (Vulture Ice Cellar) is one of the best-preserved ice cellars, the dome is in perfect condition. It is 7 m deep and has a diameter of 8 m. And finally there is the Cava Arquejada (Arched Ice Cave). All three are very close together.