Cueva de El Buxu

Cueva del Buxu - Buxu Cave

Useful Information

Location: North of 33589 Cardes.
From Cangas de Onís AS-114 towards Panes 5 km, turn left to the town Cardes. From the La Casona de Cardes hotel 1 km hike uphill to the Cave. Signposted.
(43.358784, -5.100064)
Open: JUN to SEP Wed-Sun 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 13:15.
OCT to MAY Wed-Sun 9-13, 15-17:30.
Prior reservation essential.
Fee: Adults EUR 3.13, Children (7-12) EUR 1.62, Children (0-6) not allowed, Seniors EUR 1.62.
Wed free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=100 m, A=177 m asl.
Guided tours: D=40 min, MinAge=7, Max=6.
Photography: no
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Hugo Obermaier, Ricardo Duque de Estrada y Martínez de Morentín Vega del Sella (1918):
La cueva del Buxu (Asturias)
Memorias Numero 20, Comisión de Investigaciones Paleontológicas y Prehistóricas. Junta para Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid. online
Lawrence Guy Straus (2018): Review of the book
Mario Menéndez, Jesús Jordá, José Manuel Quesada, Julio Rojo, Pedro Saura (2016): La Cueva del Buxu (Cangas de Onis, Asturias) en el Centenario de su Descubrimiento Oviedo: Principado de Asturias, 2016, 126 pp. €13.00, paper. ISBN 978-84-7286-462-7.
Journal of Anthropological Research, Volume 74, Number 2, Summer 2018 online pdf
Jesús Jordá Pardo, Pilar Carral, José López, Mario Menendez (2019): The Solutrean Site from El Buxu Cave (Asturias, Spain): A Current Vision In: Human Adaptations to the Last Glacial Maximum. Chapter Five. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN (10): 1-5275-3848-6 ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-3848-1.
Address: Cueva de El Buxu, Cardes, Tel: +34-985-940054, Tel: +34-608-175467.
Reservation: Wed-Sun 15-17, Tel: +34-608-175467.
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.


DEC-1916 discovered by Cesáreo Cardín during a survey commissioned by the Count de la Vega del Sella.
1917 exploration by Count de la Vega del Sella and Hugo Obermaier.
1950s access to the interior of the cave improved.
1970 limited excavations by Biblical archaeologist Father Emilio Olávarri.
1985-1990 archaeological excavation directed Mario Menéndez.
2007 collection of data and geological samples compiled.
2016 monograph published on the centenary celebrations of the discovery.


Cueva de El Buxu (El Buxu Cave) is one of numerous painted caves in Asturias. It contains engravings of horses, goats, deer and bison, and geometric and zoomorphic figures. The cave combines paintings and engravings in various techniques. Like all those caves, access is extremely restricted, only 25 people per day and 6 people per visit are allowed. At least the cave is open at all.

The cave was discovered by Cesáreo Cardín in DEC-1916. He was commissioned by the Count de la Vega del Sella, an important Asturian prehistorian and researcher, to survey the area for archaeological sites. When he reported his discovery the Count and Hugo Obermaier studied the cave shortly after. Beneath the examination of the engravings and paintings, the sediments of the cave were excavated. Solutrean remains of lithic and bone industry, accompanied by various manifestations of movable art were revealed. They were dated between 20,000 and 18,000 BP. A rare sculpture of a bird carved on the fang of a cave bear and a limestone plaque engraved with different motifs stand out. The results of recent excavations are interpreted, that El Buxu functioned as a seasonal summer and autumn settlement for hunting deer, chamois and goats.

Hugo Obermaier grouped the artistic representations into different sets distributed in three different places in the gallery. The first set includes several cervids painted in black, which are unfortunately in a poor state of conservation. The second set, located in a small chamber is characterized by a very particular type of abstract pattern. It is quadrangular, divided internally and surrounded by small vertical lines. The third set is located in a small side branch and show animal representations like horses, deer, caprid and bison, made in different engraving and painting techniques. The fine-lined engravings are sometimes filled with multiple scratches to give them more volume, the black paintings are limited to the contour line.

The cave faces south and is located at the foot of the Pena el Sedu limestone cliffs overlooking the course of the Entrepeñes stream before it flows into the Güeña River. This is the south face of the 1000-m-high coastal range (Sierra de Cuera) in eastern Asturias. The opening has a large overhang which offers shelter, but it has been transformed considerably since the Palaeolithic period due to an ancient rock fall. Layers of flowstone sealed the archaeological remains in the entrance area and virtually blocked the entire cave entrance itself. The cave’s main gallery is a narrow passage about 100 m long, the cave paintings are located at the end of this gallery about 70 m from the entrance.

For obvious logistical reasons the cave was modified to allow the archaeological excavations, the current situation is a result of this work. In the 1950s, when several caves were opened for tourism due to increasing tourist numbers after World War II, the cave was also improved. The sedimentary deposits in the entrance area were removed and a trench was dug inside the cave. The cave was severely damaged over the decades by vandalism, use as a shelter during the Civil War, and too much tourism. Several paintings which were recorded in the early publications are lost. Today the cave is gated and the low visitor numbers are intended to preserve what is left. If you are not able to visit the cave, the mongraph La Cueva del Buxu by Mario Menéndez et al from 2016 with numerous color images is recommended. It is only in Spanish though.