Meeting point: Calle Puerta Nueva nº 9, Utiel Tourism Office
on variable open days, only with reservation.
Conjunto de Cuevas de Utiel, Utiel Tourism Office, Calle Puerta Nueva nº 9, Utiel, Tel: +34-962-170-222.
Serratilla de Utiel Cultural Association, Tel: +34-651-033-466, Tel: +34-666-348-046.
|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.
|14th cty||first mentioned.|
|1947||cellars abandoned with the centralizing of wine production in the Agricultural Cooperative.|
the Conjunto de Cuevas de Utiel (Uriel Cave Complex) at the town Utiel are subterranean wineries and wine cellars. The wine is stored in huge amphorae which are integrated into the walls and floors of the cellars. The cellars cover practically the entire subsoil of Utiel, counting more than 200 in the historical center and many others outside the walled enclosure. The rocks were mined to build the houses, so the cellars were not originally constructed as wine cellars. Even more rocks were needed for the defensive constructions like the city wall. As a result the cellars were created continually with the growth of the municipality since the Castilian conquest in 1219. There were many uses for the cellars, warehouses, passageways in times of war and epidemics, and even anti-aircraft shelters during the Civil War.
The massive use of the cellars for storing wine was obvious. Many inhabitants produced wine and needed cellars anyway. The wine cellars were first mentioned in the 14th century. And the end came with the attempt to make the production and marketing of wine profitable in the 1940. The cooperative movement is basically the use of work saving technology by forming a cooperative and giving the grapes to the cooperative for processing. The producers were together owners of the cooperatives and still did the work, but they were now able to buy modern machinery. As a result the wine was stored in the optimized cooperative cellar and the other cellars were disused. The Agricultural Cooperative was installed in 1947 and the cellars almost immediately abandoned.
However, to abandon underground structures has some drawbacks. If they are forgotten, new buildings may collapse if they are built on top of such a cellar without knowing. But finally they were reopened for their enormous tourist potential. The reopening, exploring and restoration of the cellars is still ongoing, and now and then new sections are completed. Currently there are no regular open hours and the cellars are only open on special weekends. From time to time, the Serratilla Utiel Cultural Association organizes guided tours. They are obviously meant for locals, as it is a gamble that they will be open while you are on holiday in the area. And it is necessary to book the tours well in advance, as the are sold out very fast. The curiosity of the locals is enormous, and what's more, the tours are free of charge. Nevertheless we recommend to check for availability anyway.