The caves of 'Monte Castillo', located in Puente Viesgo (Cantabria, Spain), is a set of four caves with Palaeolithic cave art, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2008. Of the four, two are open to the public:
VIDEO OF THE CAVES OF "EL CASTILLO" AND "LAS MONEDAS"
At the edge of the Pas River and its passage by Puente Viesgo, stands Monte Castillo, a conical limestone elevation that hides an intricate labyrinth of caves frequented by man for at least the last 150,000 years.
Among these caves, five of them with Palaeolithic cave manifestations, stands out El Castillo, discovered by Hermilio
Its stratigraphic deposit, about 20 meters of power is located in the outer zone as a shelter, and contains evidence of human occupation. Thanks to its archaeological record it is possible to have a knowledge of the environmental conditions, flora and fauna, human anatomy, technological development, economic activities and social and symbolic behavior of the last 150,000 years.
From Homo neandertal and Homo sapiens, from glacial and interglacial periods, from cold fauna and temperate fauna, from the organization of hunting, from planning in the exploitation and use of natural resources, from the technical processes of bone work , the stone and the flagpole, the adornments as decorative elements and for social use, the supports decorated as forms of artistic expression and social cohesion, and a long etcetera, speak their sediments and the materials that are found in them.
The interior of the cavity contains one of the most singular and important sets of European prehistory, a reference for History. Its more than 275 figures, all corresponding to the dawn of the presence of Homo sapiens in Europe, represent an underground walk through the origins of symbolic thought, the abstract mind and artistic expression.
In the walls of the almost 275 meters that the visitor walks, are distributed most of the representations, exemplifying the techniques, the themes and the graphic resources that the artists of the Upper Paleolithic used to express part of their mentality. At present, this cave has the oldest Paleolithic art in the world at least 40 800 years old.
Horses, bison, hinds, uros, deer, goats, a mammoth, etc., form the animal figurative cast, a varied bestiary that represents a part of the animals that cohabited with man. The references to the human figure are numerous but abbreviated, expressed by the hand, a special motive in this cave due to its high number; more than 50. Signs, geometric shapes or abstractions are abundant. The so-called point clouds and rectangular shapes stand out, many of them complex in their composition due to segmentations and internal fills.
Drawings and paintings in red, black or yellow (whose colorant was applied through different techniques: pen, brush, finger, or airbrush, among others), engravings (in their different versions, according to the characteristics of the grooves) and minus two simple sculptures associated with painting, show a diverse technical cast.
At about 675 meters from the well-known cave of El Castillo, and continuing along the path that borders the mountain, the cave of Las Monedas opens, the largest route of the cavities known in El Monte de El Castillo.
At the time of its discovery, in 1952, it was called the "Cueva de los Osos". After a while, different imprints of a boot with three nails were observed in the heel. Following the tracks, a lot of 20 coins from the time of the Catholic Monarchs was located in a deep space of 23 meters, one of them resealed in 1503 or 1563. These coins, lost or hidden in the cave by an anonymous visitor of the sixteenth century, are what give the cave its name today.
If you want to buy the ticket online for the two caves, the intervals between the start of each visit must be at least 60 minutes apart. Remember to be at the ticket office, located at the mouth of El Castillo, at least 30 minutes before the start of the first visit to obtain tickets for one or both caves.