The Altamira Cave discovered by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola in 1879, are located in one of the hills that surround the nice valley where Santillana del Mar village is placed. Its discovery started big polemics between the archaeologists, because they did not believe that prehistoric men were able to do such perfect paintings. The main gallery, called the “polychromes chamber”, is also known as the “Cappella Sistina” of the quaternary art.
In its ceiling there are nearly a hundred of animals and signs, especially bisons in different postures, with other animals as deers, horses, wild boars and bulls, sometimes superimposed, made with different techniques – engraving, print, scraping- that produce an splendid composition, full of movement and beauty, which is unique in the Palaeolithic art. They were painted 14.000 years ago.
The rest of the cave (270 metres -890 feet- long) has plenty of engravings, some of them older than the paintings, and an important archaeological deposit in the hall. Near the original caves there is an Investigation Centre and a Museum.
The Altamira Caves were declared by UNESCO protected cultural heritage site.