Cueva de Santián

Useful Information

Location: Peñas Negras. CN-623 exit Revilla de Camargo, follow CA-240 west to the cave.
Open: MAY to SEP daily 9:30-14:30, 16-20.
OCT to APR Wed-Sun 9:30-13:45, 14:45-17.
Pre booking required!
Fee: free
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=45 min, max 6 persons.
Bibliography: H. Alcalde del Rio, H. Breuil, L. Sierra (1911): Les cavernes de la region Cantabrique. A. Chene, Monaco.
A. Moure (1991): Documentación del arte rupeste cantábrico: la cueva de Santián (Piélagos, Cantabria). Zephyrus 44-45, pp 7-15.
Address: Cueva de Santián, C.P. 39609. Escobedo de Camargo, Tel: +34-942-253007.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1880 discovered by Manuel Santián.
1905 prehistoric remains recognized by Alcalde del Rio.
1911 Alcalde del Rio publishes his conclusions in Les Cavernes de la Region Cantabrique.
1989 Prof A. Moure Romanillo from the University of Cantabria examined the cave.


The Cueva de Santián is located at the slope of the Peñas Negras (Black Rocks). It was discovered during road works, and soon developed as a show cave, because of its various speleothems, like stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and even discs. But although it was discovered only one year after the paintings of Altamira, nobody discovered the paintings here. Altamira was thought to be not genuine, and this cave was not searched for prehistoric remains. After the Altamira paintings were accepted by science, Alcalde del Rio visited this cave in 1905 and found the paintings. He published his discoveries 1911 in his famous book Les cavernes de la region Cantabrique.

The remains in the cave are classified into two different groups. About 75 m from the entrance is a group of paintings with two abstract figures and some animals. The second group is located 125 m from the entrance with 15 more abstract symbols. Those symbols, vertical lines with forks, resembling tridents are rather unusual. Palaeolithic art generally shows animals, somtimes hands or regular patterns. They have been interpreted as animal feet with their claws, maces, boomerangs, or harpoons. However, there is so far no plausible and widely accepted interpretation.

Unlike many other painted caves in the area, this one may be visited. In order to protect the speleothems and the paintings this cave is visited in very small groups, we heard about groups of six, other pages on the web say the maximum size is four. It is absolutely essential to book in advance, the guides will then also tell where to meet.