Some 90km northwest of Seville, ARACENA is the highest town in the Sierra Morena with sharp, clear air, all the more noticeable after the heat of the city. A substantial but pretty place, it rambles partly up the side of a hill topped by the Iglesia del Castillo, a Gothic-Mudéjar church built by the Knights Templar around the remains of a Moorish castle. The town is flanked to the south and west by a small offshoot of the Sierra Morena – the Sierra de Aracena – a wonderfully verdant corner of Andalucía with wooded hills and villages with cobbled streets.

Gruta de las Maravillas

Although the church is certainly worth the climb, Aracena’s principal attraction is the Gruta de las Maravillas, the largest and arguably the most impressive cave in Spain. Supposedly discovered by a local boy in search of a lost pig, the cave is now illuminated and there are guided tours as soon as a couple of dozen or so people have assembled; to protect the cave there’s now a strict limit of 35 persons per visit. At weekends and holiday periods, try to visit before noon – coach parties with advance bookings tend to fill up the afternoon allocation. On Sunday, there’s a constant procession, but usually plenty of time to gaze and wonder. The cave is astonishingly beautiful, and funny, too – the last chamber of the tour is known as the Sala de los Culos (Room of the Buttocks), its walls and ceiling an outrageous, naturally sculpted exhibition, tinged in a pinkish-orange light.


Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

27 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook