Cueva del Tesoro

Treasure Cave


Useful Information

Location: Av. de Picasso, 21, 29730 La Cala del Moral, Málaga.
Rincón de la Victoria, 13 km E of Malaga. A7 exit 251 La Cala del Moral, towards La Cala del Moral/Cueva del Tesoro. First roundabout towards coast, then straight ahead.
(36.7197600, -4.2975885)
Open: MAY to SEP daily 10:30-14, 16:30-20.
OCT to APR daily 10-14, 15-18.
Last entry 1 h before closing.
Closed 01-JAN, 06-JAN, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
Booking online or phone mandatory.
[2024]
Fee: Adults EUR 4.65, Children (4-14) EUR 2.75, Children (0-3) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 2.75, Students EUR 2.75.
[2024]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided, L=500 m, D=1 h, audioguides. V=50,000/a [2000]
Photography: no
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Henri Breuil (1921): Nouvelles cavernes ornées paléolithiques dans la province de Málaga In: L’Anthropologie. Band 31, Nr. 3–4, 1921, S. 239–253.
S. Giménez Reyna (1946): Memoria Arqueológica de la Provincia de Málaga hasta 1946 Español - Spanish
M. Laza Palacios (1962): La Cueva del Tesoro Español - Spanish
S. Giménez Reyna, M. Laza Palacio (1964): Informe de las Excavaciones en la Cueva del Higuerón o Suizo Español - Spanish
J. Pérez de Barradas (1968): Los primitivos pobladores de la Costa del Sol Español - Spanish
M. Laza Palacios (1988): El hombre que creía saber donde había un tesoro Español - Spanish
J.A. Pérez Berrocal, L. Moreno Wallace (1988): Guía de las Cuevas de Málaga Español - Spanish
J.B. López Moreno (1989): Proyecto Interdisciplinar sobre la Cueva del Tesoro y su entorno Español - Spanish
Address: Cueva del Tesoro, Av. de Picasso, 21, 29730 La Cala del Moral, Málaga, Tel: +34-952-406162. 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

86 BC Marcus Crassus takes refuge in the cave for eight months as he is persecuted by Marius and Cinna.
1145 the royal treasure of the five kings of the Almoravid dynasty sent towards Al Andalus.
1847 Swiss Antonio de la Nari dies as a result of an explosions in search of the treasure.
1918 Abbé Henri Breuil visits the Cueva del Suizo and publishes a description of it in an article in the magazine "L'Anthropologíe".
1985 declared an Bien de Interés Cultural (Asset of Cultural Interest, BIC).

Description

This marine cave at Rincon de la Victoria, with a main gallery of 500 meters, is believed to have started life as a prehistoric sanctuary of the Moon Goddess Noctiluca, Goddess of fertility, life, death and hunting. Cave drawings of animals and ceramics from the Neolithic period have been discovered here.

Tesoro translates as treasure in Spanish, and legend has it that in the 7th century a certain Emperor Tasulin Ibn hid his fortune within the cave's salty walls. Since then countless treasure hunters have tried in vain to discover the booty.

The cave is to be found at Urbanización El Cantal, just off the N-340 between La Cala and Rincon de la Victoria. From La Cala or Rincon de la Victoria take the local green bus.


Text by Tony Oldham (2007). With kind permission.

The Cueva del Tesoro (Treasure Cave) is a karst cave located only 750 m from the coast in the middle of the city La Cala del Moral, only 750 m from the A7 motorway exit. Some say it is a sea cave, others say it's a marine cave, both is actually nonsense. The worst nonsense is found on their website stating: "It is one of only three caves of marine origin known in the world and the only one in Europe". It was even copied by Wikipedia, nevertheless it lacks any reality. Actually there are many thousand caves of marine origin, they are called sea caves, and this is not one of them. The Mediterranean sea was much lower for a long time, the sea level actually changed numerous times. During the Messinian Salinity Crisis it was almost completely empty. During the cold ages it was up to 100 m deeper than today. During such a period the Cueva del Tesoro formed as a karst cave, draining towards the Mediterranean. When the sea level was rising some 8000 years ago the lower part of the cave system was flooded by seawater. Only the part which is still higher than sea level is air-filled, the lower parts are filled with the cave river, which mixes with seawater. In other words there is brackish water which becomes more salty towards the submarine springs. A quite interesting hydrological structure, unfortunately not accessible. The show cave has some cave lakes though.

The last king of the five kings of the Almoravid dynasty, Tesufín ibn Ali, died in the square of Oran in the year 1145, at the hands of the Almohads. But before this happened, he sent the royal treasure towards Al Andalus, and its whereabouts is unknown. Fray Agustín de Milla y Suazo, a native of Oran during the time of Spanish sovereignty in the 17th century, collected the legends on this topic. He wrote a manuscript which was titled Historia Eclesiástica y Secular de Málaga y su Obispado (Ecclesiastical and Secular History of Málaga and its Bishopric) which was never published. In this manuscript, he speculated that the treasure was hidden in Cueva El Higuerón. Cristóbal Medina Conde published a book named Conversaciones Malagueñas in 1789 under the pseudonym Cecilio García de la Leña. He wrote that Marcus Crassus took refuge in the cave for eight months in 86 BC when he was persecuted by Marius and Cinna. He also cited the treasure theory, and also reported that a group of 17 brave men entered the cave to search for the famous treasure, and came out terrified, convinced that they had seen a monster. He wrote:

The figure of an extraordinary animal, which some, in spite of their fear and disturbance of the senses, described as an alligator or some other similar animal... Among the confused footprints of their footwear, they noticed that there was one of bare feet, each of which occupied more space than the width and length of two of our feet...

There are some guesses, what he meant. One interpretation is a rock formation which resembles an alligator. Some people still believe in the treasure, especially after Professor Laza Palacio found a ceramic lamp in which 6 Almoravid gold coins from the time of Ali ibn Yusuf during his excavations. One detail is the number 6, which is of magical and superstitious value for some Sahrawi tribes. They argue that the lamp was deliberately hidden next to one of the cave entrances as part of a magical ritual to hide the treasure. The Swiss Antonio de la Nari spent almost 30 years searching for the legendary treasure of the five Mohammedan kings. He opened galleries with dynamite but died finally in 1847 as a result of one of those explosions.

There were originally three different caves named El Higuerón, El Suizo and La Victoria. After Nari's works, the three caves were connected and formed a single cave system which was named Cueva del Tesoro, after the treasure. The Cueva del Suizo (Sala del Lago) and the Cueva del Higuerón form today a huge chamber called Sala de la Virgen. Its sheer luck that those works did not destroy all the archaeological evidence. The cave was visited by the famous Abbé Breuil in his 1918 visit to Spain. He published a description of the cave, and excavations followed. In the 1970s, the section with the most prehistoric remains was separated from the tourist part for protection. There are special tours for this section and the Cueva de la Victoria, but the number of visitors is restricted. The visit to the Cueva del Tesoro is also limited, and reservation is mandatory, but it is visited self-guided with audioguides, which is quite exceptional.

The site is a rocky hill in the city, which is riddled with caves, named Rincón de la Victoria, which is protected under the name Parque Arqueológico del Mediterráneo. The park also has additional caves, for example, the Cueva de la Victoria and the Cueva de la Esperanza, which are not accessible for the public. The Cueva del Tesoro is located at the eastern edge of the park, with a visitor center and museum built on top of the cave entrance. But there is a cave replica of the Cueva de la Victoria in the museum. The park also has a gorge and an outlook on top of the hill.

The cave was the location of numerous film shoots in the last years. Several short films and music videos, but the most famous was probably the Netflix series Warrior Nun in 2019. Many scenes were filmed in Malaga, not only in the cave. Even some flamenco songs were recorded in the cave by the famous Ortigosa brothers.