Cantabria, birthplace of peninsular prehistoric heritage

If anything characterizes the Green Spain –Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country– that is the strong presence of cultural events of great historical importance in its various territories. The north of Spain treasures some of the most important art shows across the country, and Cantabria, with its famous cave of Altamira is one of the best exponents of this rich heritage.

The cave of Altamira was it discovered in 1868 by a hunter named Modesto Cubillas who, while trying to take your dog out from the rocks in which they had been trapped while chasing prey, found the entrance to become a of the largest caves in the world. Its scientific discovery is due to Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, naturalist researcher and patron of the town of Santillana del Mar, where the cave is located. Marcelino, a keen natural sciences, archeology and history, is considered one of the pioneers of Prehistoric Science in Spain.

Interestingly, it was the daughter of Sautuola Sanz, Maria itself, which, while accompanying her father on one of his research on the cave in 1879, looked at the ceiling and discovered to his surprise the impressive polychrome panel in that could be seen protruding from the ceiling of the cave, depictions of bison, horses and deer large. A year later, in 1880, Sautuola released the results of its research, leading to controversy regarding the authenticity of the paintings because the realism of the scenes depicted could lead to questions about its historical origin. The discovery of new cave art in France in the late s. XIX, he caused the cave was officially recognized by the scientific community. Its recognition as an artistic work done by men and women of the Palaeolithic led to a long process in which current studies on prehistory originated.


Now that we know the history of the cave of Altamira, would be relevant to explain where their historical significance lies. We begin by quoting the definition that the English sculptor Henry Moore coined for the discovery in 1934. According to the artist, the most famous natural cavity of the country is the “Royal Academy of Painting Rock”. What sets this cave over others is the fact that, at the time of its discovery, first prehistoric pictorial assembly of great extension known. It was painted during the Stone Age, particularly in the Upper Paleolithic. Research conducted over the years concluded that had started 35,000 years ago and inhabited for millennia, many artists who lived in there were decorating ceilings and walls. The collapse of its entry occurred 13,000 years ago and from that time until the day of their discovery, no one came back into it, something that influenced the good condition and conservation of pictorial samples. This led to the cave recognize Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 1985, a name in which were included in 2008, some 17 caves in northern Spain, under the name of “Cave of Altamira and art Paleolithic of northern Spain ‘rock.

Today, the cave is managed by the Museum of Altamira since the crucial role that spreads its discovery and subsequent study played in the Spanish culture, and especially in the Cantabrian. The museum, plus a variety of activities ranging from exhibitions to workshops for younger Prehistory of the house offers visitors the chance to swim in a natural environment.


Surrounding the main building, it is a landscape that recreates the natural environment in which our ancestors lived in the Upper Paleolithic, with their own species of the time such as ash or oak. Walking a little further, you can see the spectacular mountainous relief that form the Cantabrian Mountains and the Picos de Europa. History and natural beauty and architecture come together in a unique setting whose origins and equity across borders.