Gruta do Zambujal

Cave of Zambujal

Useful Information

Location: South of Zambujal, Cabo Espichel
(38.43773, -9.13952)
Open: closed
Fee: closed
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ExplainDestroyed Caves
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
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.


1978 discovered.
1979 declared a natural heritage of national interest.
1980 opened to the public.


Gruta do Zambujal is not existing any more. If you have an old guide book you can stop looking for the cave as it does not exist any more. This cave is still listed on the web, there are various pages which contain info about it. Nevertheless, this is a dead parrot!

Discovered in 1978, it was soon developed as a show cave and opened to the public. It became popular but was finally abandoned. The cave was vandalized, many of the fine speleothems it was famous for were stolen or destroyed. We do not know if it was vandalized because it was closed, or if it was closed because it was vandalized.

Then the cave was open only to scientists, while it was owned by a quarry owner. Quarrying became a danger for the cave, but finally it was destroyed by the construction of a road, the access road to the control tower of maritime traffic. Continuous vibrations a shock waves from the explosions of the quarrying destroyed the rest. So the cave is actually completely destroyed.

However, the loss is lamented by speleologists and conservationists alike, as it proves the uselessness of conservation laws. The cave was declared a natural heritage site of national interest in the first year after its discovery. And although the government cannot be held liable for the theft, it did nothing to prevent the final destruction of the cave. Actually, the protected status did not protect anything.

Gruta do Zambujal, is no longer open to visitors. It is now situated in a large estate which is used as a quarry and cement factory.

Gruta do Zambujal was open to the public in the 1970s; it was a beautiful and popular showcave. Later thieves vandalised the cave and removed the best speleothems. The cave was then closed to the public. The present owner, a wealthy man, is not interested in the cave, only in quarrying. The cave still exists, but quarrying is now very close to the cave. So entry is not only forbidden, but could be quite difficult and dangerous.

Text by Dr Strinati (2005). With kind permission.