Discover the mountains, enjoy the coast Diversity in Green Spain

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El Soplao

Caves in Cantabria, Spain

Cantabria has the highest density of caves with cave paintings in the world and has over 60 with paintings on its walls. Altamira and the other nine cavities that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the universal symbol of this valuable legacy from the Palaeolithic Age that coexists with another no less surprising underground legacy: the more than 6,500 caves with breathtaking geological forms and spectacular landscapes, such as El Soplao.

El Soplao Cave

  Book your tickets Altamira Cave

In addition to its great geological value, the cave retains an exceptional industrial archaeological heritage derived from its zinc and lead mine workings. Inside, it houses an unusual diversity of speleothems characterised both by their beauty and by the abundance of them. Their most impressive shapes, which are those becoming “single cavity”, are the so-called ‘eccentric’ ones and they cover the floors, ceilings, walls and other formations throughout the route. The eccentric ones, along with the incredible shapes adopted by the stalactites, columns, casts, etc, make this an amazing journey into the underground world.

Tourist visit: 1 hour long, suitable for all kinds of visitors, adapted for people with reduced mobility and wheelchairs may be used for around 90% of the route.

Tourist-adventure visit: for the more daring. 2.5 km route where the visitors can feel like speleologists for a day. It is not a route that is exclusively for experts, but the idea is to bring the beauty of the underground world closer to anyone with normal mobility.

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Altamira Cave

  Book your tickets Altamira Cave

The Altamira cave, discovered in 1875, is located inside the grounds of the Altamira National Museum and Research Centre, in the village of Santillana del Mar. It was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1985.

Altamira is incredibly rich in samples of Palaeolithic art that are spread out over the entire cave, with the hall and the so-called horse’s tail (the cave’s end gallery) being most covered with paintings. The Hall of Polychromes is without any doubt the most well-known panel of Palaeolithic art in the world and it has been called the Sistine Chapel of Quaternary art. The paintings contain a large herd of bison, with around twenty large animals and generally painted in two colours.

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Other prehistoric caves

The paintings of animals from the era (bison, horses, goats, deer, bovine animals…), of hands and the presence of many paintings in the caves of Cantabria, form the most direct sample of how the ancient peoples of the Upper Palaeolithic era (36.000-9.000 B.C.) thought.

Nine of the caves of Cantabria are contained in the UNESCO’s declaration of World heritage sites under the name of Altamira Cave and Palaeolithic cave paintings from the North of Spain, which covers a total of 18 chambers. Some of them are…

  • El Castillo Puente Viesgo
  • Covalanas Ramales de la Victoria
  • Las Monedas Puente Viesgo
  • El Pendo Escobedo de Camarg
  • Chufín Riclones
  • Hornos de la Peña San Felices de Buelna
  • Cullalvera Ramales de la Victoria

More information on cuevas.culturadecantabria.com/english

Caves open to the public

Caves with cave paintings and of geological interest

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