Cave of El Castillo
Cave of El Castillo
4.5
About
The Cave of El Castillo contains a very well preserved cave art ensemble and an archaeological deposit with a stratigraphic sequence dating back from the Lower Paleolithic Era (about 150,000 years ago) to the Bronze Age (about 6,000 years ago).
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles725 reviews
Excellent
549
Very good
145
Average
23
Poor
5
Terrible
3

Louise
Chesterfield, UK60 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022 • Couples
The caves were wonderful.
The guide said he would do some if it in English for us.
He didn't.
He made no effort for the English speaking ones in the group who made up half the group for them to understand.
At points he was exceptionally rude, trying to hurry up a gentleman who was having difficulty with the steps.
He even snapped his fingers to make us turn the torch off on our phones when it came to him turning his torch on to see the drawings on the caves.
He had no time at all for anyone in the group except a certain few.
We came out with no knowledge at all of what we had been looking at.
he spent time laughing and chatting with some in Spanish when he could have been giving the English speaking some of the points of the tour.
Completely ruined the experience.
Written September 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Frivolous Diversion
Ventura, CA12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022 • Couples
Best cave and parietal art you can see firsthand in Northern Spain, but don't just take my word for it (read all that you can before you go). Juan was our guide who did a great job answering questions in an exceptionally courteous and candid way which separated hypotheses from (substantiated) theories.
He was extremely informative, to say the very least, but his professionalism, English and interpersonal skills were particularly impressive. We don't have children, but if you do, definitely wait for Juan (he's amazing with kids).
Written August 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

pfefmeister
San Francisco, CA4,346 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
As others have pointed out, poor ticketing system. You drive to the top only to find out you have to go back and buy tickets at the bottom, except they’re closed for siesta until 14:30, so you wait for them to open, and then the next tour is 16:00, so now you’ve wasted 3 hours to get in. Still, absolutely worth it! Don’t give up, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see real cave art, not some replica crap like Altirma. Great one hour guided tour, loved it. No photos allowed, but that’s ok. Go now before it closes to the public.
Written May 10, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Greg W
Birmingham, UK32 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023
Brilliant experience being in a cave surrounded by paintings from 30,000 years ago. They only do tours in Spanish of which we only speak a bit so were struggling a little bit to keep up with the guide, but he kindly did a quick review of the key points in English as we walked from location to location. Incredible experience.

Don't forget to collect your tickets from the museum at the bottom of the hill in the village. We missed the sign and had to go back.

If in a big enough group they might do a purely English tour.
Written April 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ColinBurcombe
Colchester, United Kingdom17 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022 • Couples
Visits to these caves are arranged in small groups. Despite the guides speaking mostly in Spanish, they were also really accommodating and asked which languages and also interjected with some English. In any case, these caves are amazing to just look at. Drawings on the walls and spectacular rick formations.
Written April 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kathysjourneys
Aptos, CA263 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
When we visited the Santillana del Mar area this summer, we did not want to see a fabrication of cave paintings (such as those in the Altimira Cave Museum). We wanted to see the “real things.” We were thrilled with our experience at the Cave of El Castillo (Cuevas del Monte del Castillo), near the town of Puente Viesgo (about 13 miles southeast of Santillana del Mar).

Our family of four (with 2 kids, ages 7 and 10) arrived at the caves in time to take a guided tour. There were perhaps a dozen people in our group--us, Spanish tourists, and one English couple. Our guide was Alfredo, who was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the cave paintings. The tour is generally given in Spanish, but Alfredo spoke very good English too. Although my husband and I can understand a lot of spoken Spanish, our children cannot; and neither could the English couple. So after giving his description in Spanish, Alfredo took the time to translate parts into English.

Alfredo showed us many paintings throughout the cave. We learned that the red paintings were made from iron oxide about 28,000 to 30,000 years ago. The black paintings were made from burned wood carbon about 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

I thought the paintings were absolutely amazing. We saw many hands, which appeared to have been created by blowing iron oxide around each hand that had been placed on the wall—like a stencil. We also saw bison, a horse, deer, red circles, and an oro (an extinct animal related to the cow). Sometimes the lines were faded, and Alfredo would point out how to discern the animal shape by connecting certain lines together visually.

I was very grateful to have been able to see actual cave paintings that had been created thousands of years ago. These caves are definitely worth a visit!
Written October 27, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AndyHManchester
Manchester59 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Unless you have academic credentials and apply a year in advance you won't be able to get into the Altamira Cave. You can, however, tour the Castillo and Las Monedas Caves at nearby Puente Viesgo. El Castillo is fantastic - 15000 year old rock art with hand prints
of the actual early humans which made them and weird animal and abstract drawings. The tours are only in Spanish, but the guides are friendly and patient and will try to explain the main points. Though you don't really need any explanation, just look and marvel! Take your own water and food - the cafe was closed when we went although it was August.
Written November 1, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RatonCantabria
Cantabria2,729 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2010
I agree with some of the other reviews here, this is definately a better visit than Altamira. The whole experience is more genuine and raw, you get to see the paintings close up, they are very impressive, especially the hands, and there is a choice of caves to see. The explanations are very good, the guides very informative, and they made the effort to try out their English (not brilliant!) on my mother, and were patient of my translating! My parents have seen many UNESCO caves in their time and were very impressed. It is not overdone or over touristy either, but it is best to book in advance, there are timed slots. The town of Puente Viesgo itself is very pretty, with walks down by the river (a bit further along the bike track past the old station there are several places where you can swim in summer with BBQ areas etc.), some artesania shops and some very good restaurants (try El Marques by the bridge, expensive but delicious fish and paella). The spa is also very famous (the Spanish national team stay there once a year!), but expensive. At Monte Castillo itself there is also a track which takes you up from the car park right to the top of the cone shaped mountain that has the caves, it's a good hike up, but the views from the top are amazing over the valley. The whole village and caves is definately worth a day visit.
Written January 6, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mjsomaha
Omaha, NE681 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014 • Couples
El Castillo is one of a series of Paleolithic cave in Northern Spain in the Cantabria region that include pre-historic cave art. This beautiful landscape of rolling hills is remarkable and scenic in- and-of itself, but what lies under the surface inside the caves is truly remarkable. The walls of EL Castillo feature art created by Cro-Magnon man between 11,000 and 16,000 years ago, before the Egyptians, before the Greeks, before any other recognized western culture. The walls inside this cave feature outlines of buffalo, stags and horses. Many were created by actually spraying pigment through animal bones onto the rock walls. Perhaps the most intriguing is a frieze of the outlines of human hands and other markings. Be sure to book in advance. These caves are well worth the effort to see them.
Written September 24, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mary H
Menomonee Falls, WI85 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2017
We had a reservation for El Castillo cave & were able to get in on a tour to Las Monedas afterward. El Castillo is a fairly extensive cave complex, and you can see animals and hand prints from 40,000 years ago. Las Monedas has less art, but some interesting rock formations. Both tours were in Spanish and English. Cave floors can be slippery in places, and El Castillo at least was quite cold, so dress accordingly. And you can have a nice meal in Puente Viesgo after.
Written October 14, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Cave of El Castillo - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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