Cueva de Altxerri

Useful Information

Location: Municipality of Aia (Gipuzkoa), south of San Sebastián.
Open: Closed for protection.
Fee: Closed for protection.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: none
Dimension: A=20 m asl, L=2,200 m.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Jesús Altuna, Amelia Baldeon, Koro Mariezkurrena, Pedro Diaz de González (1996): Ekain und Altxerri bei San Sebastian, Zwei altsteinzeitliche Bilderhöhlen im spanischen Baskenland. Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3799590021. (Deutsch - German)
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1956 start of road construction in front of the Altxerri farm, discovered in the quarry for the road after a blast.
1962 explored by members of the Aranzadi Science Society .
1964 first study of the figures by José Miguel de Barandiaran published in the magazine Munibe.
1976 second publication by Jesús Altuna Etxabe.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Cueva de Altxerri (Altxerri Cave) contains rock engravings and paintings from the period between 13,000 and 12,000 BC. The engravings are well conserved but the paintings have started to dilapidate, an process which is fastened by any change in climate. To protect the paintings, the cave is closed to the public.

The cave was discovered in 1956 during road works. At first only locals visited the cave and left some graffities. In 1962 members of the Aranzadi Science Society explored the cave and discovered the paintings. They informed José Miguel de Barandiaran, the director of the Prehistory Department at the Aranzadi Science Society. The cave was gated and then the discovery published.

Altxerri is dominated by representations of bison. Nevertheless, there are some other animals like carnivores, birds, fish and even a serpentine shape.