The Cave of Altamira

The cave of Altamira is known for its prehistoric art. It is located in northern Spain, Europe. These paintings are complex and more populated than the other paintings found in Spain. It has many natural caves. They have original cave paintings that belong to the palaeolithic age. They are archaeologically important.

It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1985.


The cave was discovered by a hunter in 1868. It was visited by archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola in 1878 and later excavated by him in 1879 who discovered various artefacts and paintings. During his visit, he was accompanied by his 8-year-old daughter named, Maria, who first noticed the painting of bison on the ceiling of the cave. Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola published his findings in 1880, but nobody took him seriously. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that the paintings were recognized as Palaeolithic paintings.

The Cave of Altamira (pic-

Description of the Cave

The cave is approximately 1000 feet long and has many twisted chambers and crossings. The paintings are found throughout the length of the cave. Altamira caves are one of the places where the very first human art is made. It shows unique artistic cave illustrations. These paintings represent the social, economic and cultural aspects of humans of that period.

The floor of caves has rich deposits of artefacts. These paintings depict the daily life of palaeolithic people. There are paintings of human hands, masks, animals like horses, deer, bison, buffaloes, oxen, possibly wild boars etc. and also various unknown symbols are discovered here.

Paintings were deteriorating due to visitors so it was closed in 1977 but reopened in 1982 with limited access. Various research programmes have been carried out to preserve the paintings.


Altamira Cave Replica (pic- Atlas Obscura)

Nowadays cave of Altamira remains closed to the public due to preservation problems. Archaeological experts recreated the cave that can be visited. There is an Altamira museum containing artefacts collected from Altamira caves. This museum is built right next to the cave with the original cave paintings. A replica of the cave is recreated inside the museum for visitors.



Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain


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