Altamira: the Homo Sapiens Museum

Altamira and its museum, 2 kms far from Santillana del Mar, shows the lifestyle 35.600 earlier /
Altamira and its museum, 2 kms far from Santillana del Mar, shows the lifestyle 35.600 earlier

The copy of the cave, considered the Sistine Chapel of Quaternany, is 2 Km far from Santillana del Mar, a village with medieval atmosphere


After cloning a sheep and create human embryons in a laboratory, Could we go a step beyond? The answer is yes. The bisons from the Upper Paleolithic period, goats, deers and horses that were frozen during, at least, 35.600 years inside Altamiras Cave, have been reproduced accurately in a cave located less than 400 metres from the original. It has the same historic reputation, it produces the same prejurassic frenzy and causes the same rock feelings. The most exacting copy of Altamira, which opening is being considered.

Going to the complex means to discover a 130.000 square metres area where we can find a 3.000 square metres building that hosts the museum, the copy, the research centre, the library, a conference room, a restoration workroom and the cafeteria; all integrated into an Upper Paleolithic flora area (heather and bush) achieved thanks to a pollen study found in the original cave.

The spaces are organised around three basic rooms: the permanet exhibition, that contains backgrounds of the Prehistory Museum, other museums and backgrounds of Altamiras diggins; the projection room, where you can see how was the daily life during the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods... And the jewel of this place: the neocave. The first surprising image is the huge passage that is located on the left of the entrance and has the same dimensions of the original cave before the demolition.

Useful guide

How to get there? Santillana del Mar is 30 Km far from Santander. Take N-611 or A-8 highway Santander-Oviedo
Museum 2 Km far from Santillana del Mar. General price 3 euros. From Tuesdays to Sundays (9.00-20.00). Sundays and public holidats (9.00- 15.00)

A big entrance, covered with glass, where you can see the same landscape that, some years ago, saw the inhabitants of the cave. If nature, full of birch trees, always captures everyones attention, the virtual reality achieves stop looking it and see a scene at the entrance of the cave.

Through a catwalk we can reach the ritual and most beatiful zone, without doubt: polychromes room.

Any details are missed. It was painted at the same colour temperature used thousand years ago; it preserves any minimun crevice on the rock and, for sure, the cross crack which separates the bisons from the other painted animals 2.000 years before.

Only two kilometres far its located one of the most beautiful villages in the Iberian Peninsula: Santillana del Mar, the town of the three lies. This statement remids us that the village is not saint (santa), plain (llana)and has no sea (del mar). In fact, quite the opposite. Santillana changes the marine environment for cobbled streets and a medival atmosphere, dressed by its ochre stones and the redish roofs. Its a famous town and you can feel it. Even Jean Paul Sartre wrote about Santillana del Mar on Nausea, his famous novel. The French author wrote that Santillana was the most beautiful place because it was where Gil Blas was born.

The Colegiata, an old abbey, was built in a Romanesque style. At the centre of the church is placed the sepulchre of Santa Juliana, a saint and martyr from whom the village took its name. The 43 capitals of its cloister are a really pleasure for the eyes, frames of XII Century documentary. At the square stands out the gothic towers of Don Borja, the one of Merino, and la casa de la Parra. The Dominican Order convents (San Ildelfonso and Regina Coeli) are really interesting too. They are located on the outskirts of the village. At the last one you can find the Museo Diocesano de Arte Religioso Popular, guarded by a community of Poor Clares who also has a restoration art workroom.

Some of Santillanas palaces, as Sánchez de Tagle, were finannced by emigrants who left America. Its cobbled streets and its manor houses, all of them forced to keep its medieval appearence, find out a village from another time.

Here, all the balconies are full of flowers; this habit it is not only common on the south of the country.