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Senderismo en la Cava de Agres

Set in the Parc Natural de la Serra de Mariola, the Cava Gran de Agres, is an example of the industrial architecture developed throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th century, for the supplying of ice to the valencian territory. It is also known as Cava Arquejada, for its unique masonry arches that supported its rooftop. Over the years it has become one of the most identifiable symbols of this natural place where culture, heritage and landscape meet. Built on the second half of the 18th century to store and keep snow to make ice and for trade, linked to the increasing demand of this resource for therapeutics, culinary purposes and for food preservation.

The Cava Gran is an inverted truncated cone volume deposit tank of 17 meters depth and 15 meters of diameter with a net capacity of 2,000 m3. The exterior facade is hexagonal with a window on each six sides, where the snow was thrown in. The roof top structure is a ribbed pointed vault, formed by six half arches. It has an access gallery to the well to enable ice extraction tasks. In the early 20th century, the revolution on the ice industry due to the artificial production of ice caused its abandonment, the dismantling of the roof and subsequent decline. Public ownership since 2008, the recovery and enhancement of this cultural facility has been done by the Diputación de Alicante.


Harvest and storing

The industrial activity begins in the winter period, when it is harvested and stored. Workers are called to work by public announcement. The snow was harvest in baskets, carried to the well where is tamped down in layers or levels using pilons, so it gets compacted and loses volume. The work had to be done per shifts due to the hard working conditions, wrapping their feet in sacks to avoid from getting frozen. Once the well was fi lled up, doors were blocked to isolate and preserve the snow.


Extraction and transport

The extraction of the ice was carried out in the summer and at dusk. The snow was very hard and compact; it was sawn into blocks and lifted using pulleys. Ice was loaded wrapped in straw and blankets into the saddlebags of the animals, each load weighted 10 arrobas (about 120kg). The journey was at night to arrive to the destination before dawn, to avoid ice from melting. Once there, it was stored in the nevaterías or snow houses where the sale took place, being of compulsory dispose daily. If it was not open they could face sanctions or fines. The price of ice was variable during the peak season in summer the price increased in order to compensate the losses occurred during the transport. In the early 20th century the trade of snow arrived to its decline with the arrival of the first factories of artificial ice, causing the abandonment of this industrial architecture once scattered around our mountains.


The Cava Gran of Agres along with others “pous o caves de neu”, or snow deposits, are recognizes as Protected Property of Local Relevance by the Cultural Heritage Law of the Generalitat Valenciana. Thus constituting cultural treasures of the Parc Natural de la Serra de Mariola.


We can also find the “Tejera de Agres” as part of the natural environment surrounding the Cava Gran within the Parc Natural de la Serra de Mariola. Here we have one of the most southern yew wood in Europe, with some centennial specimens and others hovering around the millennium.

At the bottom of the well and sheltered under the Cava Arquejada is located one of the 14 existing males among the 57 surveyed.


This special setting, along with the enjoyable experience to reach the bottom of the ancient well makes it worth visiting.

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