Cuevas del Drach

Coves del Drac - The Caves of Drach - Dragons Cave


Useful Information

photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
Location: Mallorca. 1.5km South of Porto Cristo, East coast.
(39°32'N6.15", 3°19'51.53"E)
Open: NOV to 15-MAR daily 10:45, 12, 14, 15:30.
16-MAR to OCT daily 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.
Closed 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 16, Children (3-12) EUR 9, Children (0-2) free.
Online: Adults EUR 15, Children (3-12) EUR 8, Children (0-2) free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=1,700m, VR=25m, T=20°C, H=80%. Subterranean lake: L=177m, W=30m, D=9m.
Guided tours: L=1,200m, D=60min, St=250.
Photography: allowed, no flash, no tripod, not during concert
Accessibility: no disabled access
Bibliography:  
Address: Cuevas del Drach, Carretera Cuevas, E-07680 Porto Christo, Mallorca, Tel: +34-971-820753, Fax: +34-971-815089. E-mail: contact
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

1338 first written notice of the cave, in a message of Roger de Rovenach, Governor of the island, to the mayor of Manacor.
1632 first appearance of the name "drach" in the book "History of the Kingdom Mallorca" by Demeto.
1778 mentioned in Berard y Solà: A Journey through the Internal Mallorca.
1784 included into the Mallorca map of Cardinal Despuig.
1878 cave visited by two tourists from Barcelona who got lost and nearly died of starvation in the cave.
1880 first map of the cave drawn by the German cartographer a speleologist M. F. Will, published in Munich.
1881 second edition of Will's map published in Palma.
1895 mentioned in the book Clovis Dartentor by Jules Verne.
1896 exploration by ExplainE. A. Martel, discovery of the Cueca de los Franceses.
17-JUN-1922 cave bought by Don Juan Severa and his wife Angela Amer Nadal. They immediately start the development of the caves.
1925 the trails are completed.
1929 new entrance tunnel opened.
23-APR-1935 the electric light, made by Carlos Buigas, was inaugurated. Buigas was so happy with this work, that he refused to accept any payment for 5 months of work!
1950 light redone by Buigas.
1951 archaeological excavation revealed arabic caramics (3000 years old), Bronze Age, Punic, and Roman remains.

Description

photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.
photography
Cuevas del Drach. Public Domain.

The Coves del Drac in Catalan, Cuevas del Drach in Spanish (Castilian), or Dragons Cave in English, is the most famous and most visited cave on Mallorca. The reasons are probably its outstanding features, like the wealth of speleothems and the impressive underground lake. Or its the long history as a show cave. It may also be a result of very good marketing and millions of leaflets which can be found in each venue on the island. But the cave is actually worth a visit. There are numerous stalactites and stalagmites of pure white colour. At some parts of the ceiling, the stalactites are covered by helictites, on others there are fragile soda straws. And there is of course the lake.

The tour starts with a walk through a lush green park landscape with an impressive overhanging limestone cliff. The limestone is riddled with small caves and crevices, and at the foot of the cliff is the entrance to the show cave. The cave visits are scheduled hourly, visitors walk on their own into the cave. The visitors must walk at a steady pace to reach the Lago Martel in time. The chamber of the lake is equipped with seats for about 1,000 visitors, who listen here to a 10 minutes long concert with classical music. The concert is held by musicians on three boats, who glide silently into the lake to play their lake concert. They play Alborada qualleqa by Caballero, Plaisir d'amour by Martini, Tristesse, study 3 opus 10, by Frederik Chopin, and Barcarola from Hoffman's Tales by Jaques Offenbach. The music is available on CD.

After the concert there is a light show called sunrise over the lake, which was invented by Carlos Buigas. The Catalan engineer created the first electric light system for the cave in 1935. Buigas was so happy with this work, that he refused to accept any payment for 5 months of work! And until today his idea to slowly increase the brightness of the lamps to simulate a sunrise, is a central part of the show, although the light system had to be replaced several times.

There is also the possibility to make a boat ride, but this is voluntary. After the concert the visitors queue to enter the boats and glide across the lake. If you are not interested, there is a trail along the lake and across a bridge, so you can walk instead. And finally you leave the cave through the second entrance.

It seems, the opinions about this cave differ pretty much, and they are quite controversial. Many people regret that there is not enough time to enjoy the cave and its speleothems, others think the concert is kitschy. Most people are irritated by the complete lack of any guide or explanation. But at the end everybody has to make up his own opinion. To avoid the crowded times, it is probably a good idea to take the first or last tour, or visit the cave during the winter. During high season the tours are sometimes full, which means actually 1,000 visitors on a single tour and all seats used for the concert.

The name Cuevas del Drach is, of course, derived from the dragon. The first inhabitants of Mallorca gave the dragon rather different attributes: on one hand, he is evil, a sort of devil, on the other hand he is a symbol for strength. This second aspect was definitely the reason, why King Jaime I is shown on the medieval paintings of Francesc Comes and Pere Nisart with the dragon on his helmet. In the medieval legends, in the Rondaies mallorquines, the most important collection of Mallorcan fairy tales, the dragon has a third aspect: he is the sentinel of a treasure. With his horrible looks, snake like body and bat like wings, and his enormous strength, he defends the treasure against intruders.

The cave was visited during centuries, an example is a cave visit by two tourists from Barcelona in 1878. They astrayed, although they had a local guide, and they nearly died of starvation in the cave. However, this near death experience reduced the number of visitors. This story is retold quite eloquently in the book Ténèbres by Norbert Casteret. He also tells that E.A. Martel discovered an inscription, in the last chamber of the cave which is today called Chamber of Catalans. It was written by those unfortunate lost, in one of their darkest hours. It reads "Ya no hi ha esperanza!", which translates "Here is no hope!". Creepy story? What he did not tell: they were found after 30 hours, a little more than a full day in the cave and, yes, they were hungry.

The most famous name in the history of the cave is ExplainE.A. Martel. He arrived early September 1896, after an invitation of Archduke Ludwig Salvator, who lived in Miramar. On the 9th September he entered the cave the first time. Until then three chambers where already known: Cueva Negra (Black Cave), Cueva Blanca (White Cave) and Cueva Luis Salvator. At the end of this third chamber was a place called La ventana (the window) where terra inkognita started. La ventana allowed a view on an enormous lake. Martell used his newly developed gear, which were in fact two boats, to cross this lake, which is today called Lago Martel (Lake Martel) to his honor. He was rather impressed by this silent boat tour on one of the world's largest subterranean lakes, 177m long and 30m wide. Lago Martel has a temperature of 17°C and is a little salty, which proofs a subterranean connection to the Mediterranean Sea. Behind the lake he discovered a new part of the cave, today called Cueva de los Franceses (Cave of the French), also to his honor.

The members of this expedition where Martell, his companion Luis Armand, Fernando Moragues, son of the cave owner, and Pedro Bonel de los Herreros, the grandson of Ludwig Salvator's steward. The expedition with its calm - almost psychedelic - boat ride on the huge lake is described in the Annuaire du Club Alpin 1896. "Thousands - if not millions - of tightly clustered stalactites hang down like long diamond tear-drops. Reaching down to almost touch the surface, they form perfect reflection on the water, creating the impression as if the boat were suspended between two pine forests."