Majorca under ground
On the outer edge of the Majorcan municipality of Capdepera, through cliffs that rise tens of metres above the Mediterranean, the Artá caves receive visitors wrapped in semi-darkness and a fear of the unknown. These cavities created by water erosion over thousands and thousands of years, for part of a Majorca hidden from the eyes of normal tourists: this is the Majorca 'Under ground'.
Rediscovered in the mid-nineteenth century, this natural enclave harbours many legends in the darkness, like James I finding 2,000 Arabs hidden there after the conquest of Majorca or the writer Jules Verne beginning to get the idea for his book Journey to the Centre of the Earth after visiting the caves and seeing the depths of the planet.
A huge natural formation called the La Reina de las Columnas [The Queen of Columns] stands out in particular. This monarch, formed by a stalagmite and a stalactite coming together, is 25 meters high and grows only two inches per century. It is water which, as usual, gives life to these strange forms with its continuous line of drops.
Each of these drops filters patiently through the ceiling, depositing the dissolved limestone material around it and slowly forming a stalactite. The drops that fall to the ground, still retain salt bicarbonate, and deposit it year by year to create a stalagmite. Over the centuries the two formations may come together to form a Queen of Columns.
The truth is that ‘under ground’ Majorca is a route full of options, as can be seen from the Drach or the Hams caves, Artá is a good start. In the end this is where Verne’s pen started its Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
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