Mallorca, The Caves of the Dragon
Though it was occupied for centuries during the Iberian Moorish rule, Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is now a self governing Spanish Province.
We arrive in Mallorca early in the morning with hopes of seeing how the famous Mallorcan pearls are created and also to visit the Cuevas del Drach—or the Caves of the Dragon. The pearls, we know, are beautiful—and they are—but we have little idea of what to expect from the caves. After all, we have seen caves before. We have descended into many stygian depths and have left with polite interest and praise.
Nothing we have read or heard has prepared us forwhat we find. The cave descends precipitously into the earth with sides and ceilings covered with stalactites and stalagmites of such fantastic shapes that it takes the breath away. Gently and strategically lit by a lighting plan conceived and carried out by the famous Dr. Buigas, whole city- scapes emerge out of the darkness. Limestone deposits have created a pipe organ here, a Hindu temple there, a grotto over there. There are sky scrapers and gardens and fountains and look—over there is a perfect slice of bacon formed out of stone!
Below lies Martel Lake, an underground body of water that is one of the largest in the world. So still is this water that it reflects the majestic limestone formations, and I notice that some parts seem greener than others. “It is not the stone that is green,” one of the cave custodians tells me. “As the water deepens, the salt, seeping in from the ocean, makes the color.”
We walk down the sloping limestone path and carefully navigate stone stairs all the while keeping eyes glued to the incredible scenery. Surely Gaudi must have come here, we tell each other, for the towering stalactites and stalagmites remind us of the Church of the Sagrada Famiglia . It makes sense. No artist save nature has been at work here, and Gaudi believed that Nature was the only way to praise the Creator.
We have at last reached the huge cavern that marks the end of our journey. We sit on benches facing Martel Lake, and soon we hear the soft strains of music. Boats, lit by lanterns, are being rowed toward us and on one of the boats is a three-piece orchestra. “Parlez-moi d’amour,” sing the violins—sing to me of love—and the words seem somehow appropriate. These caves have slumbered peacefully under the earth for millennia while aboveground empires have clashed and fallen. Throughout the years while intolerance and hatred have ran rampant amongst men, the silent beauty of this place has remained undisturbed. I wish that we could take the lesson that it teaches back with us to the surface.
Music swells as the boat passes us, then ebbs as it turns and glides back out of view. Invited to take a short trip on the underground lake, we step down into rowboats which slide through the pristine, silent water—away from the heart of the great Dragon Caves and back toward the kingdom of the sun.
Under earth’s surface
What wonders may lie hidden
In cool, silent dark?