Yesterday we spent all day at the beach in Santander, in northern Spain, where we will be staying for two more days. Today we did something incredible. A bus with a guide picked us up from our little hotel in the morning. We were going to see the Altamira Caves, seventeen caves filled with drawings and paintings from the Stone Age. Last night I read a bit about this magical place, and just couldn’t wait to get there! I was so excited I could hardly wait. (I think I was driving Mack crazy during the entire bus ride!). The guide told us that we were very lucky because the caves had been closed to the public for several years, but now they are open to the public again.
When we got to the site, the guide took us to the museum, where we learned all kinds of cool things about the caves and the people who lived there. He told us that a hunter discovered the caves in 1868, but the person who made these caves’ well known to the world was a man named Marcelino (I can’t remember his last name!). Actually, his 8 year old daughter, María, was the one who saw the drawings first and alerted her father. From then on, these caves have been famous everywhere, and it changed what archeologists and anthropologists thought of humans during the Paleolithic period (aka Stone Age).
There were signs everywhere saying “NO TOMAR FOTOS EN LAS CUEVAS” (no picture taking in the caves), so I bought every post card I could find at the museum store to show my family and friends back home. (Maybe I can scan them at the hotel. That would be cool).
After a few minutes we were told to get together in front of the main cave where the local guide was standing. WOW! There were drawings, carvings, and paintings everywhere…on the walls, on the ceiling…everywhere! Most of them were of animals like bison, horses, boars, and deer. There were also hand drawings of hands and of mysterious signs painted and engraved on the rock. The colors were red, brown, yellow, tan, and black. It was amazing to realize that I was looking at the artistic expression of the caves’ habitants 15,000 years ago! Our guide told us that this was one of the most important sites with prehistoric art in the world and that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
After our visit, we had lunch in Santillana del Mar, the cutest little town near to the caves. We were all so excited about what we had seen that we talked about it during lunch and our ride back to Santander. I think we drove our guide crazy with so many questions!
I LOVE all kinds of art, but this experience was beyond anything I could have imagined!