Museo Altamira

Geology and archaeology

Interior de la Cueva de Altamira

The cave of Altamira is located in the central region of Cantabria (in northern Spain), on the borders of the municipal districts of Santillana del Mar and Reocín.

The landscape is gentle to the north, made up of small coastal sierras, the low stretch of the River Saja and the coastal plain. To the south are mountainous reliefs and in the background stand the Picos de Europa. A few miles away, there are other caves occupied by humans, which also possess Upper Palaeolithic cave art, such as La Clotilde, Peña Caranceja, Las Brujas, Las Aguas, El Linar and Cualventi.

The cave of Altamira is located 158.5 metres above sea level in the upper part of a Pliocene karst formation. Its geological structure is composed of an almost horizontal stratum of calcerenites up to one metre thick, separated by fine layers of clays, although there are almost no remaining signs of the circulation of water beneath the ground since its formation is a result of the collapse of the roof and the gravitational subsidence of the subsoil. Detachments occur in large blocks that leave flat stigmas, trapezoidal sections, and a floor formed of a chaotic arrangement of collapsed blocks. One such detachment finally sealed off the access to the cave some 13,000 years ago, burying part of the archaeological site at the entrance.

Altamira currently runs in an almost straight line for 270 metres. The archaeological site and the polychrome room are located at the entrance, both forming part of a large hall. Further along the cave, its development leaves little room for wide spaces, with the exception of the large chamber, the only room of a significant size. The cave ends in a narrow gallery that is difficult to access but which is also contains paintings and engravings, like the rest of the cave.

Planta de la Cueva de Altamira (Adobe PDF. 1,36 MB)

Santillana del Mar (Cantabria) 39330 España / Teléfono: 942 818 815 / 942 818 005 / Mapa Web / Contacte / Ver mapa en GeoCultura
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