Caves of Drach (Coves del Drac) – near Porto Cristo Majorca
The Caves of Drach (Coves del Drac – The Dragon Caves) are located about half a mile out of Portocristo and are well worth a visit. They have been known for about 300 years and in 1339 the Governor of Majorca sent men down into the blackness of the caves – their mission was to locate the missing treasure of the Knights Templar which was said to have been secreted down in the caverns of the Caves of Drach after vanishing when the Order was suppressed. It is not actually known if they were successful in finding anything however.
Pirates were supposed to keep their ‘goods’ in the cavern, to be guarded by the dragon, hence the name Dragon Caves, but neither they nor any other inhabitant ventured much further than 200 yards into the caves – this is as far as you can go without losing sight of the entrance.
In 1878 a group of Catalans went into the caves and after they had not emerged for three days were given up for dead. They re-surfaced after this time frightened but unscathed and told of the wondrous sights that had been seen below, however they could not tell where or how far they had gone within the Coves del Drac system. It was as late as 1896 when a Frenchman, Edouard – Alfred Martel made the first serious study of the cave system mapping it thoroughly. Deep in the caves, he found a lake of crystal clear water whose temperature stays at a constant 20 degrees centigrade. Martel also found a message on the cave wall left by the lost Catalans ‘No hi ha esperanca’ – there is no hope any more.
Opening the Caves of Drach
A Majorcan named Joan Servera bought the area around the caves as well as the cave entrance (the law of the time meant that if one owned a cave entrance, one also owned the cave as far as it went underground!) as he had the idea he could ‘do something with it’. Private shows of music and ballet were given inside the caves from about 1931 and in 1935 Servera had the caves illuminated with coloured lights to create a fairy grotto effect.
The caves are much the same today and you enter the cavern and walk down various steps and paths – always going downwards – you will be able to see the artistically lit stalactites and stalagmites that look as though they have been built like that instead of being formed over millions of years by the dripping of the mineral laden water. Don’t be tempted to take any photographs in the Caves of Drach though as it is forbidden and Rangers are stationed every 50 metres or so strictly enforcing the ban!
Once you have completed the ‘descent’, you will come to a massive natural theatre where rows and rows of benches are provided overlooking the lake. When everyone is seated, the lights go off and you will experience absolute darkness. The announcer will then tell the audience a little about the ‘Coves del Drac’ in a few languages including English of course. Then you will hear music coming from the lake as several lit-up boats slowly come into view one with the musicians on board. Be in no doubt that the music you will be hearing is absolutely live and not recorded! The boats slowly traverse the lake and then turn round to retrace their passage and eventually go out of sight, the music fading as you lose sight of the boats – it is quite a magical and moving experience. When the lights come up again, you can either make your way out of the caves by the nearby exit on foot, or you can queue up near to the lake and have a short boat ride to the way out. All this is included in your entry fee to the caves.
The trip down the ‘Caves of Drach’ or ‘Dragon Caves’ has remained more or less the same for decades and the caves are open most days throughout the year. If you visit this part of Majorca you must go and see them!