Cave living – why? Caves have been home to mankind forever. We have all seen pictures of ‘cave men’ huddled around an open fire whilst they look out for predators trying to join them in the safety of the cave. In more modern times these caves have become homes that we would recognise today. Within the Province of Granada in southern Spain there are thousands of cave dwellers, or Troglodytes as they are fondly known, who’s families have lived in caves for hundreds of years.
My first thought upon hearing about cave dwellings was a very negative one. Surely the caves are damp, dark and dirty? How can anyone live in a cave? Yes, some are damp, dark and dirty but often it is not the cave itself – you get houses like that all over the world. The majority of cave dwellers have the perfect homes. Dry, clean and can be added to quite easily by digging out another room. Apparently, not long ago, when a wife became pregnant she would start digging ready for the new arrival. It is not unusual to find an 8 bedroomed cave!
Until only a few years ago cave living was for the poor and cave homes seen as inferior to the modern town houses. Shepherds and farmers used them for shelter (and for their animals) as they worked. They were dug out of the land often by hand or small tools. Today caves are becoming big business. There are many hotels and restaurants in caves and even churches and council offices. Cave living is on the up and up.
What advantages are there to cave living? The answer is simple – lots!
When the heat is high especially July and August and everyone is melting, the cave dwellers can relax in their caves in temperatures ranging from 17-20 degrees all year round. Even in the winter. (Now this is where I must add that not everyone agrees with this statement. Some say it gets very cold in the winter. I cannot comment from personal experience as yet but I do wonder whether it depends on the depth of the cave, the thickness of the roof/walls and the area the cave is situated. I will let you know as soon as we move in!) No air conditioning units needed here. Heating in the winter is necessary no matter what as even a 17 degree temperature is cool. Heating is usually provided today by log burners but as time goes by there are more eco friendly fires becoming more available. I am looking into just that as we speak.
Cave houses are unique, you never get two alike. Over the generations the caves have grown by the work of their owners. Soft rock being dug out by hand and the harder rock, in more modern times, by machinery.
They are quiet. When you sleep in a cave the noise can be zero. In fact it can take a little getting used to but after a while it is simply bliss.
They can be extremely comfortable and can be beautifully restored in a traditional or contemporary style. The sky’s the limit to what you can do with a cave. If you have ever been to Lanzarote and visited the home of Cesar Manrique you will know what I mean. Absolutely beautiful.
They are eco friendly and cheap to buy. I say cheap but as they become more popular and trendy the prices are rising. You can buy a basic cave from €12,000 up to €85,000 and rising depending on the quality and size of the reform.
They are certainly sturdy and have often seen many hundreds of years flash by. You cannot say that about the modern houses can you? Our cave has been around for hundreds of years and was only extended in the last 9 years.
A cave home can have all the modern facilities you would expect in a modern home. Internet, mains water, electricity and mains sewerage- but some of these things do depend on where your cave is. Our cave will certainly not have mains sewerage and may not have town water or electricity. But, that’s for another day. We certainly have many options to explore.
Cave reforms are exciting and soooooo varied. You may see a window and door in the side of a hill and never know what lies behind. It may very well be an 8 bedroomed home with several bathrooms and an office etc. You may come across a reform that has a full frontage to the cave giving you a clue to what is behind. It is an exciting life, and if you are lucky enough to have bought a unreformed cave like us, a challenge that has endless possibilities.
Watch this space!