Mallorca is famous for its caves, which are carved out of the island’s limestone rocks. Many were known by the locals for hundreds of years and they once provided shelter for the early settlers, or served as hiding places from marauding pirates, dens for smugglers or religious sanctuaries. In the 19th century Archduke Ludwig Salvator began to take an interest in them and recruited a French geologist, Edouard Martel, to study them. In 1896 Martel rediscovered the Coves d’Arts. He was amazed by their size (some are the size of a cathedral) and the large number of stalactites and stalagmites.
Underground lakes that can be found in many caves are an additional attraction to visitors. Caves with lakes have excellent acoustics and visitors are usually entertained with short concerts performed by musicians seated in boats.
Dripstones can assume the most fantastic forms. To emphasise their beauty they are often illuminated by coloured lights.
Mallorca has nearly 200 caves, but a mere handful of them are open to the public. They can be seen only as part of a guided tour.
Entrances to the caves are hidden in the rock faces. Some of them are overgrown by dense macchia; others are situated high above, like the Coves d’Artà where steps have been built to provide easy access for tourists.
Excursion routes in the caves are arranged so that everybody can see the chambers easily. There are steps and walkways provided in some places.