Tuesday, 16 January 2024
Nerja Cave celebrated the 65th anniversary of its discovery on Friday, 12 January. Tribute was paid to all five of the discoverers: the brothers Manuel and Miguel Muñoz, José Torres, José Luis Barbero (who died in 2007) and Francisco Navas. Two of them attended the celebration - Miguel Muñoz and José Torres - along with María López, widow of José Luis Barbero.
It was on 12 January 1959 that the five young boys, who were playing in the area, came across a hole that bats were flying in and out of. The curious youngsters decided to enter through the narrow opening which was the section of the cave now known as Las Minas del Cementerio. They reached the area known today as the Sala de los Fantasmas, one of the spaces that forms part of the visit.
The discovery completely changed the course of Nerja's history. The cave was opened to the public just over a year later, in June 1960, changing an agricultural and fishing village into the beginnings of one of Andalucía’s most popular tourist resorts.
Since then, more than 20 million people have entered the cave and it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Andalucía. In 2023 Nerja Cave received almost 489,000 visitors, a new record in the history of the cave and almost 53,000 more than in the previous year 2022, an increase of 12 per cent.
Visitor numbers were already higher in 2022 than before the pandemic as the cave attracted nearly 48,000 more people than in 2019, which in turn was a record year, with more than 441,000 people visiting.
Speaking at Friday’s event, mayor of Nerja José Alberto Armijo said the discovery was "a significant milestone in the recent history of Nerja and Maro" and highlighted "the influence that the discovery has had on Nerja's tourism, economic and social development".
Armijo said he was “grateful” to the discoverers and to all those who have worked to protect and preserve the cave as well as contribute "to it continuing to be a national and international benchmark”. He gave special mention to the cave’s curator, Luis Efrén Fernández, and the scientific team.
Representatives of the Nerja Cave Foundation presented the discoverers with a plaque commemorating the 65th anniversary and further events to mark the milestone will be taking place throughout 2024.
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