Sistema del Cerro del Cuevon
The deepest cave in Spain and one of the deepest in the world is Cerro del Cuevon – a 1,589 m deep cave. This is an extremely complex cave for research and not accessible to common visitors.
Map of the site
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Picos de Europa massif
The gorgeous Picos de Europa massif is a Carboniferous limestone massif with steep mountain peaks, up to 1.5 km deep gorges, numerous caves, and powerful springs.
In 2019 there were known 3 407 caves with a total explored length of 420 km in this massif (1.).
The deepest cave in Spain – a dangerous abyss
There are at least 14 very deep caves whose depth exceeds 1 kilometer, but the deepest is the system of two interconnected sinkholes named Sistema del Cerro del Cuevón. It is one of the most complex and dangerous caves in the world. The two sinkholes – entrances are:
- Torca del Cerro del Cuevón (T33) – located at the height of 2,019 m. This is a deep well without much possibility to stop on rock ledges until its bottom.
- Torca de las Saxifragas (TR-2) – less deep sinkhole, located at 43.2307 N 4.8621 W. Its entrance is at the height of 1,590 m.
The better-known entrance is Torca del Cerro del Cuevón – a small hole in the ground. As the speleologists descend into it, they should be prepared for relentless descent into numerous consecutive abysses with at least two nights spent while hanging in the air because there is no suitable location to rest on the ground. In total, the cave has more than 100 wells and the tallest is 135 m high.
Sistema del Cerro del Cuevón definitely is not a show cave: it is absolutely not suitable for mass tourism and it also does not have too many speleothems – stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations.
The cave system was formed mainly by underground rivers and the collapse of the cave ceiling above the voids that were formed by these currents. The largest stream in the cave is Rio Marbregalo with a flow of approximately 10 l/s.
It is possible that the water of this river reaches the surface at El Farfáu de la Viña spring in Garganta del Cares, 315 m above sea level.
Since 1990 the cave research in Picos de Europa massif is made by Interclub Espeleológico Valenciano with much involvement of Cocktail Picos (France).
These caving specialists put heroic effort into the research of Sistema del Cerro del Cuevón over several years until in the summer of 1998 they reached the present depth of 1,589 m.
This achievement has been extreme – another Spanish team reached the bottom of the cave in 2017 and speleologists recognized that this was an extremely complex caving expedition.
- G. Pomarada, Geólogos animan a abrir cuevas de Picos al turismo dada su buena conservación, El Comercio, 3 November 2019. Accessed on 10 April 2023.
The heritage of Europe is diverse and endlessly interesting. Incomparably rich is the wealth of European historical architecture, but this part of the world has exciting natural heritage and archaeological heritage as well.
Every year there are reported exciting discoveries of new caves and discoveries of new qualities such as cave paintings in the ones known before. But there still is a feeling that our knowledge covers just a small part of all these monuments of nature.
Though, those which are known to us, offer a surprising diversity of unusual features and impressive sights.
The wealth of cultural heritage in Spain is immense. Throughout the millennia this land has seen the development and demise of many cultures, each leaving unique artworks and structures.
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The Picos de Europa, one of Europe’s last mountain wilderness areas, are the high point of a long ridge of mountains which runs along the north coast of Spain, the Cordillera Cantabrica. Rising to 2648m, about 8700ft, the Picos are divided into three spectacular limestone massifs separated from one another, and from the surrounding ranges, by precipitous gorges – a truly spectacular area in which to walk or tour.