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.


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


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rosie Flower (4 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.
tomas partman (4 months ago)
I love it! They made beautiful replica of the cave and the museum is really nice! Entrance is pretty cheap too. Recomended at the end I bought a beautiful t-shirt ☺️
Alex K (10 months ago)
Near exact replica of the original, which is not really accesible to public (visitors list is closed). Must-see for those interested in the subject. The museum is an added bonus, quite informative.
julia bainbridge (12 months ago)
This museum was amazing! They’ve recreated the original cave to preserve the paintings and there’s an audio guide with info in English. Plus there’s an extensive museum of ancient artifacts. Make a day of it and visit the nearby village of Santillana Del Mar!
tHeoiss (14 months ago)
Waited 40 minutes at the entrance, saw something exposed and waited another 60 minutes to enter a room and see some plastic walls and nothing more. If u comr here, don't expect anything crazy, it's a waste of time. Don't recommend!
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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.