Spain re-opens Altamira Cave to public

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The amazing prehistoric Altamira cave has re-opened for limited public viewing after being closed for over a decade.

Spain re-opens Altamira Cave to public
Painting of a bison in the cave of Altamira [WikiCommons]

The cave is located in northern Spain and contains jaw-dropping, well-preserved polychrome prehistoric cave paintings.  The cave was discovered in 1868 by a hunter and contains abstract shapes and animal depictions painted some 13,000-to-35,000 years ago by cave dwellers.  Altamira is located in Cantabria, Spain and is a World Heritage site managed by UNESCO.

In 2002, when experts determined that the quality of the cave paintings deteriorated due to large amounts of carbon dioxide expelled by human breath, the cave closed.  UNESCO has now determined that groups of five people a week visiting for eight minutes will be allowed for a limited time. UNESCO will allow the visits until August to see if there is any negative impact from the limited public viewing schedule.  During the testing period some 190 visitors will be allowed inside the cave.

The cave is nearly 900 feet long with the “great lateral chamber” containing most of the paintings. The roof of the chamber is covered with paintings, mostly of bison, painted in vivid colors of red, black, and violet. There are also wild boars, and some horses depicted.  The property represents the peak of Paleolithic cave art that was located across the European continent.

This Thursday Spain’s culture ministry will welcome the first lucky group of visitors at 11 a.m.

Source: Hispanically Speaking News [February 25, 2014]

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