A CHILEAN photographer has spent two weeks in Andalucia documenting hundreds of cave dwellers and their fascinating homes.

As part of her project, Tamara Merino photographed cave homes and their residents in Gaudix and Sacromonte in Granada.

“The most important thing was not to have any preconceptions,” she told The National Geographic magazine.

“I like to sit with people and hear their stories. I share my life with them as well.”
Gaudix is home to around 2,000 underground houses, where residents still live an agricultural life similar to that of 500 years ago.

“They still live with the animals inside the caves,” added Merino.

Tocuato Lopez and his family have lived in the Guadix caves for four generations. They offer shelter from the unbearable summer heat while ‘providing a sense of deep-rooted community’.

“I’m very proud of being from the cave and still living in the cave,” he said, “I will die in the cave.”

Sacromonte, which sits across from the iconic Alhambra in Granada, is mainly occupied by illegal squatters.

Meanwhile, the lower portion is mostly home to legal residents drawn to cave life for environmental and cultural reasons.

Many members of the community, like Henrique Amaya, continue to live in the caves as a way to honour their Romani culture.

“I was born inside a cave with the animals and the beasts,” Amaya, whose family has lived in the Sacromonte caves for six generations, told photographer Merino.

His ancestors were the originators of the Zambra flamenco, first performed in the caves more than 500 years ago.

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