Cueva de Santimamiñe

Santimamiñeko Kobazuloa - Santimamiñe Cave


Useful Information

Location: Basondo Auzoa, 17, 48315 Kortezubi.
Kortezubi, Gernika, Euskadi (Basque Country). Follow signs to Gernika and the Santimamiñe Basilica. Parking on the big parking lot of the church.
(43.345334, -2.637214)
Open: 15-APR to 14-OCT daily 10, 11, 12, 13, 15:30, 17, 17:30.
15-OCT to 14-APR Tue-Sun 10, 11, 12, 13.
Reservation by phone or email required.
[2023]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-16) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 3.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: VR=150 m, A=150 m a.s.l., T=12 °C,
Guided tours: D=90 min.
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: M.J. Ramirez, R. Ruiz Idarraga (1986): El material cerámico de la Cueva de Santimamiñe, Gernika. Kobie v.XV pp. 7-33. (Español - Spanish)
R. Ruiz Idarraga (1987): Avance al estudio del nivel VIII de la Cueva de Santimamiñe, Kobie v.XVI pp. 133-142. (Español - Spanish)
Address: Cueva de Santimamiñe, Basondo Auzoa s/n, 48315 Kortezubi.
Booking: Tel: +34-94-465-1657, Tel: +34-94-465-1660. E-mail: contact
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.

History

JAN-1916 cave discovered by a group of local kids in search of an adventure.
11-AUG-1916 composer Jesús Guridi visits the cave with the kids and reports the finding in Bilbao to Manuel Losada, a member of the Vizcaya Monuments Commission.
16-SEP-1917 visited by Abbé Henri Breuil, invited by the Vizcaya Monuments Commission, who certified their authenticity.
1917 first excavation by Telesforo de Aranzadi, José Miguel de Barandiarán, and Enrique Eguren.
1925 cave art published by T. Aranzadi, J. M. Barandiaran and E. Eguren.
17-JUL-1984 declared a Historic Monument.
1997 number of visits limited to 75 per day.
2006 cave closed to the public to protect the paintings.
2008 3D virtual tour installed in the nearby San Mamés hermitage.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

The Cueva de Santimamiñe contains cave paintings from the Magdalènien, about 13,000 years old. Almost fifty animal figures painted on the cave walls show bisons, a bears, a deer, and six horses. The excavations revealed a complete sequence Mousterian, Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, Magdalenian, and Azilian. Also remains from Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age were found. The cave is located on the southern flank of a hill named Ereñozar (448 m asl), above the church named Santimamiñe Basilica.

The trail leads uphill from the meeting point at the ticket office to the cave entrance. The place has a nice lookout which was obviously also important to the hunters of the Stone Age. This strategic location was probably the reason why the cave had such a continuous habitation, from the Neanderthals to Homo sapiens. Then the cave is entered, the entrance room is the place of an ongoing archaeological excavation. The rooms with the paintings can not be visited in order to protect them. They were open to the public until 2006, when it became necessary to restrict access. The light system and the presence of people damaged the painting. Until that point about one million people were able to see the original paintings.

The tour returns to the ticket office where a projection room offers a 3D virtual tour of the cave paintings. The cave was surveyed in 3D and the paintings projected on the model. The work was done by a local computer company. The virtual cave was opened in 2008, two years after the original was closed.

A track is starting at the cave, leading to one of the magical places of the Basque Country. The Oma Forest is called an animated forest, many of the pine trees were painted by the artist Agustín Ibarrola. The paintings show human figures or eyes and resemble graffitti or the works of Keith Haring. The trail leads to the top of the hill where the church San Miguel de Ereñozar offers a great view.