May 08, 2011

Nicolás Cabrisas Gili, La cova de sa nacra / The Nacra Cave

pictures by Elena, from the Minube website

The pictures in this post have been derived from a Spanish touristic photo website and indeed, this art environment is located in a touristic spot: the Spanish isle of Menorca, off coast in the Mediterranean.

Life and works

Nicolás Cabrisas Gili (1916-2013), who is the author of this site, was born in a family of modest means in Menorca. Large scale tourist industry had not yet developed and young Nicolas got a job in the local shoe industry.

However, in 1966 at age 50 he could buy a cave, which he transformed into a bar, located in the community of Ciutadella, where around that time holidaymakers began to arrive.

In 1970 Gili sold this cave/bar, to buy another one, on the coast, with sea view. He married a German lady and the couple would run bar and restaurant, located at the premises of the cave.

They also excavated the cave, to make room for kind of house, where they could reside.

Then, in 1973, Nicolás Gili began decorating the cave, making large sculptures, which were situated at the exterior, as can be seen on the pictures in this post.

The name of the site Cova de sa nacra  has to do with shells that decorate the interior. Nacra apparently is Spanish idiom for shells that in English are called bivalves (pelecypoda). The shells used to decorate the cave can be some 50 cm large.

Gili has been active in embellishing the cave for some seventeen years, working on it until 1990.

He also had adopted an artist name, calling himself Kyana. He presented himself as a sculptor and visual artist, making paintings he offered for sale. 

After Kyana's death in 2013, the family arranged for the decorations in the cave to be turned into a small-scale museum (see video made in 2020).

Miguel Seguí Aznar, Cortar amarras y barrer inconvenientes. La cova de sa nacra (Menorca), in:  Juan Antonio Ramiréz, red., Escultecturas margivagantes: la arquitectura fantástica en España, Madrid (Ed Siruela), 2006
* Pictures of the site and the sculptures on Instagram
* A contemporary touristic website (2023) has a series photos of the site, showing that it is still in good condition.
* A website (2021) with many photos, entitled The fascinating universe of Kyana Cova, has a look back at the creation of the cave
* On Facebook a number of pictures, also one of the entrance to the museum

* Video (YouTube, 2020, 1'00") by Nico Cabrisas

first published May 2011, last revised October 2023

Nicolás Cabrisas Gili
La cova de sa nacra
Cala Santandria
Menorca, Baleares, Spain
visitors welcome


  1. Yes a lovely spot for food and drink literally on the edge of the water - heavenly

  2. This cave is now up for sale!