Cueva de los Franceses

Cave of the French


Useful Information

Location: Páramo de la Lora, between Palencia and Burgos. 15 km from Aguilar.
(42.772360, -4.116550)
Open: MAR Thu-Sun, Hol 10:30-14, 16-18.
APR to JUL Tue-Sun, Hol 10:30-14, 16-20.
AUG daily 10:30-14, 16-20.
SEP to OCT Tue-Sun, Hol 10:30-14, 16-20.
NOV to DEC Thu-Sun, Hol 10:30-14, 16-18.
Closed 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (8-18) EUR 2, Children (0-7) free, Students EUR 2, Seniors (65+) EUR 2.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 2.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=1,173 m asl.
Guided tours: L=482 m, VR=21 m.
Photography:  
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Cueva de los Franceses, Provincial Council of Palencia, 34813 Revilla de Pomar, Palencia, Tel: +34-659-94-99-98. E-mail:
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

1904 cave discovered by Don Luciano Huidobro, a priest, professor and local scholar, temporary resident in the nearby town of Puentetoma.
1972 beginning of development as a show cave.
1974 opened to the public.
1981 massive restauration because of the damages of the first development.

Description

Cueva de los Franceses (Cave of the French) was named after an incident from the Independence War (1807–1814) against the French. The Napoleonic troops and a detachment of Cantabrian hussars commanded by the liberal Perlier fought various fights in this wasteland. The bodies of the French enemies were not buried but thrown into the cave, the natural entrance was a pothole which was known for a long time. At least that's the legend, but there are some flaws in this story. First the bones of those French were never found, and second, why should they fight in this remote place, there was no road at that time. It's a plateau surrounded by escarpments which is hard to reach.

The cave was discovered in 1904 by Don Luciano Huidobro, a priest, professor and local scholar. He stayed for some time at the town Puentetoma and explored its surroundings. It seems he was the first who was brave enough to climb down the 6 m deep entrance shaft. At this time access to the cave was still quite difficult, the road did not exist yet, but the cave nevertheless received a lot of visitors.

The development as a show cave started in the early 1970s, but the natural entrance was not suitable. It was necessary to blast an artificial tunnel as entrance. Unfortunately the idea of conservation and protection of the cave did not exist in this decade. The works were carried out in the same way they would have been done on any construction site. As a result the cave soon showed massive damages, the carbon dioxide level in the cave was plummeting, and the humidity also. The speleothems lost their color and became grey. The main problem was the artificial tunnel, which allowed the humid cave air to flow out. After only 7 years the situation was so bad, massive renovation was undertaken. The entrance tunnel was equipped with three airtight doors, which works like a lock, and has the benefit that there is no force against the open door. For good measure the natural entrance was also gated. Another important work was the repair of the numerous damages caused by the blasting.

The cave tour follows the main passage, which runs from east to west. The more or less horizontal passage has only small drops and goes down 21 m in total. The tour is of the in and out type, when you reach the end you have to return on the same trail. The cave is famous for its wealth of speleothems and has two large chambers.

The cave is located in the Páramo de la Lora, a plain located at an altitude of 960 m asl, with beech groves, oak and holly. It is a part of the UNESCO Las Loras World Geopark. Located in the northeastern part of the province of Palencia, it is at the border between Burgos and Cantabria. On top of this plain is a sort of tepui, a small plateau with a flat surface and an escarpment all around. On top is a typical bare karst landscape with limestone pavements and karren fields. The entrance of the cave is at 1,173 m asl, about 200 m higher than the surrounding plain.

The road was built across the plateau and ends on the other side at the Mirador De Valcabado, which offers extraordinary views of the valleys of Valdavia, Valdelucio and Valderredible. The protected area of the Covalagua Valley, whose name cova l'agua (water cave) hints at the abundance of caves and water in this valley. The lush vegetation with beech, holly, hawthorn, and yew serves as shelter for various animal species. It is located in a valley of the plateau and easily reached from a parking lot at the road to the cave. If you follow the trail into the valley, you will find a nice karst spring and massive tufa deposits.