|Location:||Mallorca. 1.5km South of Porto Cristo, East coast. (39°32'N6.15", 3°19'51.53"E)|
|Classification:||Karst cave. (see post below, Within Her Secret Depths...)|
|Dimension:||T=20°C, H=80%. Subterranean lake: L=177m, W=30m, D=9m.|
|Address:||Cuevas del Drach, Carretera Cuevas, E-07680 Porto Christo, Mallorca, Tel: +34-971-820753, Fax: +34-971-815089. E-mail:|
|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.|
|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 E. 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 dug.|
|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||archaeologic excavation revealed arabic caramics (3000 years old), Bronze Age, Punic, and Roman remains.|
Cuevas del Drach is the most famous and best visited cave on Mallorca. The reasons are probably its outstanding features, like the wealth of speleothems and the impressive underground lake. It may also be a result of very good marketing, but the cave is really worth a visit. There are numerous stalactites and stalamites of pure white colour. At some parts of the ceiling, the stalactites are covered by helictites, on others there are fragile soda straws.
The cave visits are scheduled hourly, visitors walk on their own into the cave. The tour is more than two kilometers long, so there is not very much time to reach the Lago Martel. The chamber of the lake is equipped with seats for about 1,000 visitors, who listen here to short concert with classical music. There is also the possibility to make a boat ride, but this is voluntary.
The concert is held by some 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.
It seems, the opinions about this cave differ very much, they are controversial. Many people regret that there is not enough time to enjoy the cave and its speleothems, others think the concert is kitschy. 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.
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.
The most famous name in the history of the cave is E.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 new 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, grandson of Ludwig Salvator's steward.
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