Subterranean wine cellars of Central-Spain (Ribera de Duero): An underground built heritage to preserve
"From the dawn of civilization, human beings have exploited the underground space provided by natural or excavated caves for the purpose of habitation and as storage space for different agricultural produce. Throughout the Mediterranean countryside, and particularly in many rural areas of the Iberian Peninsula, an ancestral example of that underground architecture survives through the ages: the subterranean wine cellars. These human-excavated caves, originally devoted to the winemaking and vintage processes, are placed near the villages in groups of several tens of constructions, giving rise to outstanding visual landscapes. This paper is concerned with the formal and functional features of this vernacular subterranean architecture. By a research carried out in one of the most traditional winemaking regions of Spain – Ribera de Duero – the characteristics, excavation techniques and typological classification of the caves are discussed. Moreover, the problem caused by the obsolescence and consequent dereliction of these subterranean constructions is shown here and several alternative uses are examined to preserve this underground heritage. "