11 June 2008

Caves & Tapas

Many people ask us "Do you honestly live in a cave???" Yes we do! Here is an insight to these fabulous dwellings in Andalucia.

Fuente Nueva, literally meaning “New Fountain” lies on the outskirts of Orce village. Six kilometres into the countryside the hamlet is distinguished by its cave dwellings hewn from the rock around two hundred years ago. Fuente Nueva is home to both Orce Serrano Hams and the “La Veranda” hotel – a substantial cave of some thirty rooms which has played host to numerous guests and travellers over the years.

Another feature which has made the area famous is its prehistoric discoveries; this is due to the fact that both Fuente Nueva and neighbouring Venta Micena lie in what used to be an enormous prehistoric lake. Finds include sabre tooth tigers, woolly mammoths and various prehistoric tools, during summer months excavations can be observed in the area with most significant finds being displayed in Orce museum.

There are around one hundred cave dwellings in Fuente Nueva, mainly consisting of holiday homes and full time residence. However there are many older caves too which have not been habited for decades making the hamlet a mixture of modern and old. In the 1980’s families began to leave the hamlet and move to the village, hence abandoned caves. The reasons include modernisation of conventional housing and that at the time cave dwellings were regarded as a “poor mans house”, nowadays the opposite is happening with many caves modernised to accommodate all the luxuries and services that you would find in the most tastefully decorated 4 bedroom detached home.

Fuente Nueva nestles at the bottom of the “Sierra de Umbria” a line of mountains which stretch as far as the eye can see. The hamlet is truly in the “campo”, a mainly agricultural area, abundant in wildlife and spectacular through all four seasons. In the winter months snow can fall overnight blanketing the countryside creating a picture postcard theme. Cave homes deal with the changing seasons in a very economic way, due to their insulation properties temperature rarely fluctuates although a wood burner is needed through the winter – ideal for that lamb and rosemary with roasted potatoes! Siestas and Fiestas also play an important part of cave living in Fuente Nueva, with summer months bringing temperatures in excess of forty degrees your cave is the ideal place for that afternoon siesta – hot outside and cool inside. The fiesta is a very neighbourly affair with traditional food and tapas always present as well as a fantastic Spanish atmosphere.

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