“The bats gave us the idea," explained Miguel Muñoz, the youngest of the five boys who would change the course of Nerja’s history in 1959 when they discovered the cave. He was speaking during the 64th anniversary celebrations of the discovery of the cave on Thursday 12 January.
Three of the five gathered for the annual event. Miguel was accompanied by his brother Manuel, along with José Torres and María López, the widow of José Luis Barbero, who died in June 2007, on Plaza de los Descubridores outside the cave. Only Francisco Navas was absent.
As they have been doing for more than six decades, the discoverers returned to recall the day they discovered one of Andalucía’s most visited monuments.
On 12 January 1959 the five curious local lads discovered the Neolithic caves while playing in the area. They had spotted a hole where bats were flying in and out and decided to investigate further.
Although that first expedition took place on 12 January, 1959, it was not until 19 April when the five boys, accompanied by another large group of youngsters, among them the photographer José Padial, were able to prove the extent of their discovery.
The photographs taken by Padial, who died in October 2011, appeared in Diario SUR on 22 April and from that moment on the news and images reached the international press.
Just over a year later, on 12 June, 1960, the Nerja Cave was opened to the public. Since then around 19 million people have visited the Neolithic monument, making it one of the most visited places in Andalucía.
"It was a fundamental finding, the five discoverers are part of the history of Nerja, having allowed us access to one of the most wonderful enclaves of our country," said the Nerja Cave Foundation’s manager Javier Salas.