Cave of Altamira

Santillana del Mar, Spain

The Cave of Altamira is located near the historic town of Santillana del Mar. It is renowned for prehistoric parietal cave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands. The earliest paintings were applied during the Upper Paleolithic, around 36,000 years ago.

Because of their deep galleries, isolated from external climatic influences, these caves are particularly well preserved. The caves are inscribed as masterpieces of creative genius and as the humanity’s earliest accomplished art. They are also inscribed as exceptional testimonies to a cultural tradition and as outstanding illustrations of a significant stage in human history.

Altamira was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as a key location of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain.


Your name


Founded: 36,000 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Spain


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Αλεξανδρα Κωνσταντοπουλου (15 months ago)
If you find yourselves close to Santander or santillana del mar you should really visit the caves! The museum is great albeit not huge and the tour in the "caves" is really worth it!! The actual caves are not accessible in the tour in order to protect them as they explain in advance but there is an exact replica where they also show some scenes of life back then according to the remnants they found in the caves..
David Heslop (15 months ago)
This is an excellent museum, The reproduction cave is the obvious (and deserving) highlight, but the video presentations, exhibits and clear explanations add depth, meaning and context to the artwork. Very impressively put together.
Henrietta García (17 months ago)
Very interesting and really well organised. We had a guided tour in spanish. Easy to get to and plenty of parking.
Sheriff Nottingham (17 months ago)
I agree it is a well done museum. However I must say that it feels a little bit like a waste of money just to see a replica. Also the tour will bring you through the museum as well but not cover every single thing. I think it might have been better to go by myself because all the things the guide was saying were things I could’ve read on the plaques.
Rosie Flower (19 months ago)
This is a must see spot. The recreated caves were fantastic, I would recommend lying down to see the paintings from a different angle (they don't suggest but also didn't stop us from doing it) . The museum attached was also incredible, with a huge amount of information, not only about those caves but all the surrounding discoveries. It gave an indepth overview of the history of human evolution, with many fascinating artifacts to bring it all to life.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I. 

The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.

The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.