As we left Granada, Spain, our tour guide Pascal told us he had a surprise for us. “We are going to visit my friend, Paco,” he said. “And we have been invited into his home.”
Wonderful news for me, for sure. I’ve mentioned before that I always welcome the chance to go inside people’s homes as I travel and going to Paco’s house had an added twist: his home was built inside a mountain cave! I couldn’t wait!
Purullena is a small town in Andalucia where many people reside in cave dwellings built into the mountains. The entire population of the town is only 2260, and until recently, all inhabitants lived in cave homes. Now, about 1100 residents still do.
When we stopped to visit Paco, his children were eating their breakfast, seemingly immune to the 45 strangers filing through their house to hear more about this unique way of living.
“My family is 6th generation,” Paco explained. The original cave dwelling was dug in 1876 and Paco’s family has since expanded with two more caves on top of the original since the only place to build is up.
The second-story cave has been turned into a museum and contains relics from the previous generations that lived there. We saw old bicycles, family portraits, tools and plates. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of all the adornments inside this simple, but cozy cave. For all intents and purposes, it seemed like any other house to me. Any house, that is, that remains a constant 17-21 degrees Celsius and has no windows or doors other than in front.
Once we’d finished touring the caves and another tour group arrived to visit the museum, we spent some time browsing through the shop where the family sold ceramics they’d made. Each was unique. All were beautiful. My daughter and I were happy to come away with two small bowls as a reminder of our visit with Paco. Though, honestly, it was not a visit I’d ever forget.
Could you live in a cave?