LA VALL D’UIXÓ – In Spain, numerous rivers are famous for their strength, beauty, length, or unique properties. But there is one type of river that often remains in the shadows and those are the underground rivers.
These underground waterways come in all shapes and sizes, some are short, some are long, some are navigable, and some are not, but there is one that stands out above all the others and it can be found in Spain, the town of La Vall d’ Uixó in the province of Castellón.
The Cova de Sant Josep – Cuevas de San José
The underground river in this article is known as the ‘Cova de Sant Josep’ or the ‘Cuevas de San José’, and it is not only the longest underground river in Spain but also in all of Europe. What makes this river extra special is the fact that no one knows its exact origin or mouth. How the river is formed is still a mystery hidden between rocks and in dark, inaccessible caves.
An underground mystery
Experts consider this underground river a true mystery. There has been evidence of the existence of these caves since the Upper Paleolithic. Yet little was known about it until the mid-19th century. It was not until the early 20th century that people began to explore and document the caves, leading to a growing interest in tourism.
A partially navigable beauty
Of the approximately 3,000 metres of underground river passages, only about 800 metres are accessible by boat, while another 250 metres can be explored via a dry gallery. The remaining 2 kilometres remain inaccessible and surrounded by mystery.
It is not without reason that these impressive caves in Castellón have been declared a Cultural Heritage Site because of their beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, which can be visited in 45-minute guided tours. Furthermore, the caves have received recognition from UNESCO for their prehistoric cave paintings.
Visitors can also enjoy kayaking on the underground river for an hour and a half, followed by a 250-metre hike.
The Coves de Sant Josep are one of Spain’s many natural treasures waiting to be discovered. The underground river system remains largely unexplored, but what little has been explored so far offers a stunning glimpse into the secrets the Earth still holds for us deep beneath the surface.
To visit the underground river you must buy a ticket at a predetermined time via the official website. The general admission price is €14 and the reduced price is €10 (pensioners, disabled, students). For children up to 13 years old, admission is €8.