Naïca, Mexico’s cave of giant crystals

Grotte aux Cristaux de Naïca au Mexique

Discovery of the Naïca Crystal Cave

There’s something enchanting about Mexico, something that exists nowhere else on the globe. For lovers of the fantastic and the esoteric, for those who love to marvel at the spectacle of nature, Mexico – and the Naïca region in particular – offers the chance to discover its hidden treasures.

Journey to the center of the earth

Like Jules Verne’s novel, you’ll be able to penetrate the bowels of the earth and marvel at an unprecedented, almost unimaginable spectacle: the existence of giant crystals.

And when we talk about gigantic crystals, we mean that some of them measure up to more than 10 metres. A unique, sensational, unreal setting at a depth of over 300 metres.

Excerpts from Ruben Karenfeld’s documentary. Arte. 2008 – In the depths of the earth, astonishing caves with gigantic gypsum crystals were discovered in 2002, by chance during the exploitation of a lead and silver mine. One of these caves boasts the largest crystals in the world.

How is this possible?

The Naïca mine is an underground cavity containing water saturated with chemical elements, meaning that the water can no longer dissolve said elements. As a result, the elements clump together to form structures worthy of a science-fiction film.

For crystals to grow to such dimensions, they naturally require a constant supply of chemical elements, temperature and pressure. The Naïca crystals formed in underground rivers that were steadily heated by magma, and this growth lasted over 10,000 years, at a rate of around one centimetre per century.

When water began to be pumped from the mine, their development came to a halt.

The world’s largest crystals

Fantastically beautiful, the Naïca cave is surely one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries. The internal temperature can rise to 60° and oxygen is scarce, making exploration not always easy. And don’t forget that the underground magma that continuously heats this gallery is only 1.6 km from the surface… It’s the cave, dubbed « Caverne aux Epées », that is much more accessible to the public.

You’ll be able to admire crystals up to 11 metres long, with diameters of up to 1.2 metres, and weighing up to 50 tonnes. Somewhere between reality and fantasy, science and fiction, the Naïca Crystal Cave will transport you into a world of its own.

It takes around 20 minutes to get from the mine entrance to the famous cave: you’ll need specialized equipment containing ice to cool your body and allow you to breathe properly.

The entrance to the cave is sublime, revealing all its splendor: immense crystals that sweep or cross the cave from side to side. Walls, ceilings and floors are all covered in these crystalline swellings, which is why you need to tread carefully. Please note that each visit to the cave is limited to 20 or even 30 minutes at most.

Main photo credit: Wikimedia – Alexander Van Driessche