The cave of the Güixas is located in the western part of the Aragonese Pyrenees, at the foot of the Collarada mountain. If you are a pilgrim on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, you can make a small stop to visit this marvel that we are going to present to you today during the stretch that connects Villanua with Canfranc. We are talking about a visit of one hour and fifteen minutes long, with a route of just 800 meters. You may wonder why we have considered a stop as light as essential, why this recommendation…
The answer is “magic.”
Pilgrimage and magic
We know from the fact that all of you who make the Way of St. James are inborn travelers and your eagerness to know new places, people and above all else: the history of the ground you are walking on. We are also aware that you love natural environments and to be able to share them with your family. We thought, that there will be nothing like this cave to meet each and every one of these expectations you have about your trip. That’s why we want to tell you the story of this wonderful cave full of old dreams and new lives. The Cave of Güixas.
Journey to the past
It is known that the cave was inhabited in the Neolithic by remains that may have been found there: ceramic remains and a fragment of a cereal mill. Approximately, this occupation lasted until A.D. 300. And it was then, between the 15th and 18th centuries, that magic came here to come to life. Specifically, it was witches who frequented the cave to perform their coven rituals.
According to legend, “full moon baths” were given naked. This was possible thanks to the chimney of the underground cavity: through it they could see the moon. They also say that these baths were the secret of their youth. But it doesn’t end here: after these sparkling ladies, the cave was a dungeon and a refuge for soldiers in times of war.
Perhaps now you understand better the reason why this incredible natural beauty comprises the magnificent number of 20,000 visitors a year…
It is formed by a dissolution of limestone rock. In other words, this natural wonder began to form drop by drop, underground. The time period in which its creation is located is during the quaternary glaciations. But this is not all! Currently the cave is still being altered. Through it runs the bed of a river that is usually dry but runs during periods of melting ice or heavy rains. And since we talk about them, we want to take this opportunity to remind you to take into account the storm for your visit. You probably won’t be able to walk it if it’s raining so you’ll have to ask first.
You’ll start at the Underground Nature Interpretation Center. During your visit you will be able to see an impressive amount of “nature sculptures” or rather, calcareous forms such as the famous stalactites, stalagmites, coladas or gours. You will visit the famous and renowned chimney along with another of the cave’s highlights: the Cathedral Hall, which is 16 metres high. Both the fireplace and the living room were formed in a completely natural way, just like the rest of the cave.
Another great attraction that resides in this cavity is much more active. Perhaps you could have predicted it, traveler. It’s about bats. Several species of insectivorous food coexist. Some live here only to raise children, while others reside in a concrete way as a refuge. The different species you’ll see are:
- Horseshoe bats: Those who wrap themselves with their wings when resting hanging.
- Mouse ear bat: Its wings are folded next to the body while resting, its eyes are small and its snout flat.
- Brown or split-eared bats: They come to the cave as a refuge between the months of March and October.
- Cave bat.
The preservation of these animals is very important as they are endangered species. And it was thanks to these endangered inhabitants that the cave was named as a Site of Community Interest (SCI) in the Natura 2001 network.
…but not less important, we want to remind you a few very valuable details for your enjoyment. It is essential that you wear warm clothes, as you know in caves is usually cold. We keep in mind that this type of trips and above all, this type of visits are made with the family and we want you to take care of the youngest.
In pursuit of this, we must exalt the fact that this tour is in everyone’s opinion extremely didactic. You will have specialized guides who will delight both adults and children. I mean, first of all, this visit is enjoyable. Also the price is very affordable and if you are pilgrims, you are just passing through! The sound of water and bats make up a dream atmosphere, so traveller, do you dare to travel?