El Cau: an open-air museum in Sierra de Elche
The arid and unknown Sierra de Elche has places as fascinating as El Cau (the burrow), which consists of a sculptural set carved in an old quarry in the sierra del Tabaià, in the countryside known as El Ferriol.
The fragile sandstone, which centuries ago was used for the construction of different buildings both Ilici (today, L’Alcúdia) and the current Elche, has served to sculpt and record numerous images and representative figures of the city of Elche, which has led to an interesting open-air museum that is well worth visiting. The deceased Mariano Ros (April 24, 2017, at 91 years of age) is the creator of this curious spot, whose first location was in the Sierra del Castellar, next to the Elche reservoir and where there are remains of an ancient Islamic settlement. Due to different protection rules on the previous site, in 2000 he was urged to move to the current place, where, together with some colleagues, he continued making reliefs, sculptures and engravings until 2008. In that year, he was asked to stop his works, for being in public land.
In any case, El Cau continues to be looked after and cared for by those who value it, since the place is not only made up of sculptures, but it also has different plant species that are resistant to the characteristic scarcity of water in the area. Among the different specimens we find rosemary, sage and some carob, among others.
As for the sculptures, clearly embedded in an old quarry (there are over one hundred in these mountains) they represent such well-known images as the Dama de Elche or the abundant Palmeral (palm grove), as well as others less known by foreigners, such as the Basilica of Santa María , the ark that Coast Guard Francesc Cantó found on the beach, the musician Pepico Vaello, the ancient fountain of the Glorieta or the dam of the reservoir. If you also climb the small hill north of El Cau, the visit to the place will have been more than gratifying, since not only you get an incredible view of Elche, but much of the southern Costa Blanca and surrounding mountains, such as Puig Campana, Aitana, Sierra de Crevillent, Maigmó, etc.