Caves of the Villa

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The caves, now reclaimed from obscurity, bear witness to the life of the inhabitants, to their customs, to their way of life and to what they did and thought.

In Requena are many houses that have their own cave, which was used as a cellar, pantry, silo and even shelter. Calcareous materials extracted by drilling and extract tufa limestone clay subsoil were used to build the houses themselves.

The caves are one of the human habitats where it enjoys greater thermal comfort, cooler temperature than outside in summer and warmer in winter. The temperature inside the mean annual ground hover thanks to the thermal inertia of the walls delayed several months external variations. Moisture slowly seeps through the walls, so that their relative value in air is approximately 50%, which makes the environment pleasant and healthy.

From the geological point of view subsurface morphology Requena facilitated the caves were broken into. The Villa sits on a large platform of limestone tuff was once a lagoon that dries and erode it, broke tufa, completely filling clay.

Recorrido por las Cuevas de la Villa (Fotos)

1. UNDERGROUND WORLD

2. CENTRAL GALLERY

3. OSSUARY

These caves next to the El Salvador church, one of three in the old town, were used centuries ago as a repository for dead bodies. This particular underground ossuary was in use until the early 1800s. The steady build-up of bones led to the construction of the town's first cemetery, far away from the town centre.

4. GRANARY

As we proceed deeper into this intricate labyrinth, we find ourselves in the caves of the old Town Hall, which presided over the La Villa square from 1685 until it was demolished in the 19th century. Here was the Requena granary, a communal storage area used to store grain in times of plenty so that farmers would have seeds to plant and the poor could have bread to eat after a bad harvest or in times of need.

5. SILO

Centuries back, the locals found, between the silence and refuge of these caves, with their constant low temperature and humidity, a natural storage area in which to keep all kinds of foods. They were used to store wheat and other grains. Originally it was only connected to the surface through a hole that is now closed off. It features a typical bottle or amphora shape, with a narrow opening into which the grains were poured. Once the volume was filled, they were able to "vacuum seal" it by lighting a fire inside it to consume all the oxygen. The opening was then sealed off to preserve the contents intact.

6. WELL

Some modern-day houses in La Villa still have a well to supply their inhabitants with drinking water. In this cave, we can see that the house it belonged to relied on a well for its water, and that the cave/well also had its own water extraction point.

7. WINE CELLAR

The most recent and important use of some of the La Villa's caves was to store and preserve wine in large, clay jars. The cave/wine cellar was also used along with other areas and components involved in wine making, such as the tanks and basins used when stomping the grapes. In this room we see a jaraíz, a type of pool with brick walls and a slightly inclined floor. At the high end, the grapes were piled up and patiently stomped, with the grape juice settling in the deeper part. This grape juice, extracted by the tireless vintagers wearing straw sandals, was allowed to fall into the small lower basin, and from there it was transferred to the clay jars, where it fermented without skin or stalks to create clarete wine, so called because of its light colouration.

Text: Fermin Pardo Pardo Official Chronicler of Requena.

We thank Antonio Monzo their generous collaboration in recovering the Caves de la Villa in the 70s.

PRICE

Average entry: 4 €. Reduced admission: 3 €

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