| The Governing Council has given the green light to this declaration, which joins the existing ones of Monte Arabí de Yecla and Las Gredas de Bolnuevo | The cataloging enhances the protection and enhancement of this underground natural space, which constitutes the largest explored cavity in the Region, with a total development of more than 5,500 meters The Governing Council has approved in its session today the declaration of the Sima de la Higuera, in the municipality of Pliego, as a natural monument, which becomes the third space in the Region of Murcia with this classification, together with Mount Arabí de Yecla and Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, in Mazarrón. This declaration, which implies the recognition by the Autonomous Community of the geological importance of this cavity and its formations, will imply its protection and that of its surroundings in accordance with the provisions of Law 42/2007 on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity. The completion of this process, initiated by the Pliego City Council in 2014 with the support of the Federation of Speleology of the Region of Murcia, also implies the enhancement of this important regional geological resource through the promotion of scientific and speleological activities that reveal the singularities of this unique chasm in the world. The Sima de la Higuera is located north of Sierra Espuña, in the municipality of Pliego.
Its entrance, located in mount No.
26 of the Catalog of Public Utility Mountains, called 'Cabezo y Cuesta de Aledo', is located at an altitude of 485 meters above sea level and under a large fig tree, which gives its name to the cave. The cavity presents original and strange morphologies and formations not related to the traditionally accepted caving processes, derived from the infiltration of rainwater through cracks and fissures in the rocks.
For this reason, in recent years this chasm has become an international benchmark in the speleological group for the study and interpretation of cavities of hypogenic origin, formed by hydrothermal processes linked to the ascent from the depths of hot water flows with a high content in carbon dioxide. The exceptionality of the Sima de la Higuera happens, in addition, because it houses a formation not observed so far in any other known cavity, called double cones, located 98 meters deep with respect to the mouth of the chasm and created by the deposition of floating calcite on the floor of the Hall of Paradise, the best known place in the cavity. La Sima de la Higuera is the largest underground complex discovered in the Region, with a known route of more than 5,500 meters.
The technical difficulty, which requires the descent of more than 70 meters through several chained vertical wells, and its geological richness, implies the request for a permit for its visit and the demonstration of knowledge of the Techniques of Vertical Progression in Speleology. Visits from more than 500 specialists a year The Sima has seven main rooms along its route that have very different shapes and speleothems: from fragile formations of calcite and aragonite or floating calcite to strange double cones or imposing rock clouds up to two meters in diameter. Its international recognition, which attracts more than 500 cavers and scientists from all over the world each year, makes this chasm an important natural resource for the municipality of Pliego. The marking of the pit marks the end of the route authorized for sports visits at the end of the Sala del Paraíso.
From this point on, access is only allowed with a specific authorization for the development of speleological research and scientific studies.
From that point and crossing the Cuatro Picos pass, the cavity continues its downward horizontal development to the deepest point, located at 156 meters, in what is known as Sala Pedro.