Tourist Attraction The Cave of Altamira at Cantabria's Central Coast: Position on map

The Cave of Altamira Santillana del Mar

The Cave of Altamira
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last update on Mar 10, 2023
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The cave of altamira

The cave in the north of Spain is famous for its cave paintings dating back to the stone age. Due to these impressive cave paintings, the 270 m (300 yards) deep cave was listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Especially the various techniques applied do not fail to impress. Quite striking is the application of three dimensional depictions, large size paintings, abstraction and symbolism.


The cave had been inhabited from 20,000 B.C. until the entrance collapsed in 11,000 B.C. Only in 1868 it was rediscovered by accident. Initially, the cave did not receive the acknowledgment it deserves. The cave paintings were doomed by then contemporary archeologists and historians to be fake and not more than mere scribblings. Only in the beginning of the 20th century more cave paintings were found, which drew the attention of historians to the cave of Altamira.  A natural preservation of the paintings was only possible because the entrance collapsed and thus allowed a sphere of preservation for a period of thousands of years.  Having made the cave accessible to the public lead to a severe suffering of the quality of the paintings. Particularly, the breath of visitors, the construction of wooden corridors to walk through and the application of electronic gadgets had severely affected the quality of the paintings. Due to these factors, the cave had to be closed for the public in 1979. To be able to still present the uniqueness of the paintings and deliver information about prehistorical life, the whole cave was rebuilt only 500 m (550 yards) away from the original cave. Here, one can learn more about the history of the cave, its paintings, former life of humans in the cave, and the output of archeological work that has been done by now.

Visit the cave!

If you want to experience another side of Spain other than beaches and have a change of the usual touristic must-sees such as churches and museums, the cave of Altamira might be an alternative that is worth a visit. It is an insider's tip and a true gem for any Spain tourist.

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How to get there

By car:

By public transport, the museum is not well reachable. That is why it is recommended to travel here by car. The parking is free of charge.  

Use the A67 or the A8/E70, then take the exit 234 in the direction of Santillana del Mar. From Santillana del Mar or Puente San Miguel you will only need to follow the signs to get to the cave of Altamira.


Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave... | 02:51


Museo de Altamira
Avda. Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola
Santillana del Mar
+ 34 942 818 005
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