Gruta del Palacio

Grutas del Palacio


Useful Information

Location: Near Trinidad. Flores Department. On the road 14 from Trinidad to Young, 45km from Trinidad. (-33.276111, -57.133333)
Open: no restrictions. [2020]
Fee: free. [2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1877 discovered.
1909-1938 explored by Doctor Karl Walter.

Description

The Gruta del Palacio (Palace Cave) is a quite exceptional cave in ferrified sandstone. Permian sandstone was later ferrified by hydrothermal ground water, which obviously followed columnar regions of higher porosity. As a result the sandstone is internally made of resistant columns while the sandstone in-between is much less resistant. The obvious thing happened: the sandstone was eroded and so the material in-between was removed while the pillars are still standing. The result is a huge maze-like cavern with hundreds of pillars supporting the layer above.

The Gruta del Palacio looks like a row of columns at a Greek temple or palace, hence the name. The pillars are some 2m high which means you cane walk between them without stooping. The front of the sandstone layer is almost 400m long, less than half of the cave openings are wide enough to enter. Most of the caves are 8m long, but there is one with a length if 30m, but unfortunately it is only 50cm to 70cm high.

There are numerous legends that those are actually ruins of ancient indigenous people. Obviously a result of the fact that they look like the ruins of an ancient palace. However, the caves formed naturally, although they were used by the indigenous people as shelter.

The caves were explored by Doctor Karl Walter between 1909 and 1938, while he was in charge of the Geology chair of the Agronomy School.

The place is now a part of the Monumento Natural Grutas Del Palacio. It is developed with an interpretation centre and infrastructure like café and restrooms.