What do you imagine, when you hear the word cave? It probably sounds like a huge, dark, wet, Hobbit-like place with some spiders or other bugs inside. Where you need to walk in crooked shape, because the ceiling is so low and you have to be careful if don’t want to get dirty. Like in Indiana Jones movies, there you can find some kind of treasure.
Welcome to the 21st century, where in a cave you can find completely different treasures. In a cave house, you can enjoy the rustic environment and have all you need – from water pipes to electricity or even the wireless internet. Granada Province is the perfect example of this kind of living – it has the largest cave dwelling population in Europe, where thousands of people still live choose to spend their daily routine in a cave shaped house.
Ecological and cheap living
As it is said in the book “Regional architecture in the Mediterranean area”, cave houses naturally maintain a steady temperature of around 19-20 degrees of Celsius year around. That is why living in houses like this is so attractive for the people.
“This is quite exceptional in a montane climate like Granada city, where summertime temperatures surpass 40 degrees and where it occasionally snows in winter”, – explain Alessandro Bucci and Luigi Mollo in the book. Also, caves are ecologically-friendly houses, where you can find the same quietness you would find in a church.
“Arguably, they are the most ecologically-sensitive form of construction, and could be combined with an alternative energy system to become almost completely sustainable. They maintain a constant indoor temperature with natural earth insulation, which also keeps them quiet”, – Bucci and Mollo write.
The prices of accommodation like this are suitable for a lot of people too. For example, you can rent the whole cave apartment for 25 euros per night on airbnb.com. In a cave like this, you can find everything – the pipes, electricity, internet, the kitchen equipment, etc.
If you are interested in buying a cave, prices generally range from around 20,000 euros for a ruined hole-in-a-hill ready for reform, up to 200,000 euros for a top-of-the-range cave (think swimming pools, underfloor heating, spa baths). A small ready-to-go town cave can be bought for less than 50,000 euros, according to “The Telegraph”.
“Sometimes people just buy a piece of land and make a cave for themselves”, – says Granada tour guide Mika Bukowski.
A place for creativity, tourism, and craziness
According to Bukowski, a cave is the place for creative people to have a different experience in their living. He is been guiding the tour around the caves for 7 years and it is getting more and more attention. “People are asking how they can get a place like this, they want to explore it from inside”.
As it was written in “The Telegraph”, tourism is on the up in Granada, thanks to a developing geothermal spa on the shores of nearby Lake Negratin. The British Airways recently opened a direct service from City Airport to nearby Granada. In the prettiest towns and villages,many of the caves are bought as holiday homes.
The book “Regional architecture in the Mediterranean area” says that you can also find some theatres, spa resorts, hotels, restaurants that are set up in caves. There is even an elevator inone of them. Can you imagine the lift in a cave?
Mika also explained that in Granada there are some people who are squatting and live in caves for free. In those kind of caves you can meet some gipsies, hippies, or local strangers, who live without water, electricity and so on.
He reveals that a lot of squatters do not like that caves are getting more and more attention from the tourists. For example, during one of his tours, one of the local cavemen screamed “Do you want to take a picture of a r
eal cave? Look at this one!” and showed his ass.
Meeting a caveman
The 37-year-old professional tour guide from Krakow, Mika, experienced the life as a cave man first-hand. He lived in a cave for a year and a half.
Since he was a little boy, he was obsessed with caves and wanted to visit them and even one day to live there. So, when he came to Granada and realized that here there is a big population of people who are actually living in caves, he started to look for a place in one of them.
“One day during my tour with group in caves, we met a crazy-looking guy from Mexico, who stopped us and said that he has two caves in Granada and one of them, the smaller one, is for renting. So I said ‘I am taking it’ and the next week I was already living in that cave”, – said Mika.
As Mika explained, the person who offered this cave randomly found those two next to each other, cleaned them and made them as his property. “He told me that he needed 3 tracks just for moving the rubbish, which he found in the cave”.
“We lived in two caves next to each other and shared just the garden. There was no such a thing which I could miss, even though my cave had no windows, because, for example, you can see the sun and have fresh air in the garden. Pretty much every breakfast, lunch or dinner was eaten outside”, – Mika said.
Mika paid 180 euros per month with all the bills included and had a 30 square meters cave with two small rooms plus the kitchen.
“I loved living in a cave. Every day I was meeting thousands of people, who were keep telling me like ‘Wow, you live in a cave, can you show me how it looks? Can I go inside?’ and so on. How can you do not like that?” – smiled the former caveman.
The main reason why Mika moved out was that he just needed a bigger place. In the future, he is planning to try this experience again.
“My dream is to open a tapas bar in Granada, which could offer the polish food. But, for this moment, it is not that easy, I need a partner for that, who can I share responsibilities”, – he told.