From Chalet Río Cubas, in 30 minutes we arrive at the ALTAMIRA cave, we take the A8 highway towards Santander and Oviedo, we exit at Puente San Miguel, to reach the cave on the outskirts of the town of Santillana del Mar.
The Altamira cave, which has received the title “SISTINE CHAPEL OF THE PALEOLITHIC” is a natural cave, in which there are paintings that are considered among the most important in Prehistory. The engravings and paintings are from the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods in the Upper Paleolithic.
The history of the discovery and subsequent recognition of the cave was very conflictive for many years. Altamira was discovered in 1868 by the hunter, Modesto Cubillas, who was looking for his lost dog.
Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, a fan of paleontology, visited the cave for the first time in 1875, having been able to learn about the existence of the cave from Cubillas himself, a renter on his farm. Four years later, in the summer of 1879, he returned
Sautuola for the second time to Altamira. On this occasion, accompanied by his daughter María Faustina Sanz Rivarola, 8 years old. The discovery was made by the girl, while her father remained at the mouth of the grotto, she went inside until she reached a side room, there she saw some paintings on the ceiling and ran to tell her father. Sautuola was surprised when he saw the grandiose set of paintings of those strange animals that covered almost the entire vault.
Years of controversy followed, with the authenticity of the paintings not being accepted until the year 1902. It took 23 years from the discovery until the Paleolithic character of the Altamira paintings and engravings was finally universally recognized.
From that moment, studies and debate about the antiquity of the work began, finally determining that the main complex dates back to the year 13,540 BC. C. The artistic work was kept in perfect condition thanks to a collapse, estimated to be 13,000 years ago, which closed the cave, and which maintained a stable temperature of approximately 13° over time, facilitating the conservation of engravings, paintings and the entire archaeological site.
The Altamira cave is relatively small, it is only 270 meters long, of which the Hall and the Great Room stand out.
It is a spacious hall, illuminated by natural light before the collapse of the cave entrance and which was part of the place inhabited preferably by generations since the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. Thanks to the excavations carried out in this hall, remains have been found that have facilitated the study of the way of life of Quaternary man.
There are many names that have been given to this part of the cave, Great room, room of animals, Great ceiling, great room of polychromes and many others, which houses this great vault of the Altamira Bison, in addition to “CHAPEL SIXTINE “.
Once you have seen the Cave, the guides will take you to the Altamira Museum, modern, very pleasant didactic and with a lot of information about the way of life of the man of the time, food, clothing, hunting, fishing...
To prevent the deterioration that the cave was suffering, due to the many visits, the Altamira Museum and the Neocueva were built next to the original, a faithful copy of the original and which remains open throughout the year.
For visiting hours and prices call 942818815 or 942818005. Guided tours. All year
From Altamira we can go to Santillana del Mar, just 2 km away. of the cave. Santillana should be walked calmly, cobbled streets full of medieval charm, savoring its corners, appreciating its facades dotted with shields, palaces and humble houses, which seem to have been put together to highlight their differences, mansions and chapels, and standing out above all The collegiate church of Santa Juliana from the 12th century and its Romanesque Cloister.
If we move back along the coast, we reach Suances, where we can enjoy beautiful views of the mouth of the San Martín estuary, the Lighthouse, and a spectacular beach, Los LOCOS beach. In the Concha beach area, we can taste fresh seafood and fish that Suances knows how to do very well.