Accepted paper:

Cave-houses in Galera (Granada, Spain): new life for a traditional house


Jose Miguel Mejias del Rio

Paper short abstract:

During the last 15 years the cave-houses have evolved due quickly from a traditional house to a touristic product. In parallel to this "evolution" the cave-houses still inhabited by locals have also changed in order to resemble the urban housing.

Paper long abstract:

The cave-houses were a traditional house in south-eastern Spain until the 1980´s, but due to emigration, new housing and the pressure of local and regional governments, underwent a process of abandonment during almost two decades. However at the beginning of this century, the cave-houses began a process of revival thanks to the arrival of British immigrants looking for a vacation or retirement home and also thanks to local promoters who transformed the caves in rural hotels. On one hand, the new inhabitants have introduced a new use of rural elements and a new aesthetic, which have not been fully accepted by the locals. This aesthetic recreates an idealized rural past, using both tools and elements of agricultural work, as modern materials not fully compatible with the underground dwellings. On the other hand, those neighbors who still live in cave-houses have adapted their homes to urban standards, so that at present there are two types of cave-houses coexisting. This parallel evolution is developing without involving a clash between two movements. Meanwhile, local and regional authorities have been considering the caves as a kind of substandard housing, to promote them as a traditional and heritage item.

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Ethnographies of the house, values and manners of inhabit