Cueva de Ekain

Useful Information

Location: Near Zestoa.
From Autostrada del Cabtabrico A8 (E70) exit Zumaia follow GI-631 south to Zestoa, turn right on Calle de Zestoa Diseminados.
Open: Cave: not open to the public.
Ekainberri: All year Tue-Fri 10-18, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-19.
Fee: Cave: not open to the public.
Ekainberri: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-17) EUR 4, Seniors EUR 4, Students EUR 4, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (15): Adults EUR 4, booking required.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SubterraneaCave Replica ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Bibliography: H. Alcalde del Rio, H. Breuil, L. Sierra (1911): Les cavernes de la region Cantabrique (Espagne). Imp. Vve. A. Chene, Monaco.
Jesus Altuna, Amelia Baldeon, Koro Mariezkurrena, Pedro Diaz de Gonzalez (1996): Ekain und Altxerri bei San Sebastian, Thorbecke Speläo. Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Stuttgart (Oktober 1996), ISBN-13: 978-3799590020. (Deutsch - German)
Address: Ekainberriko informazio bulegoa, Portale kalea 9, 20740 Zestoa, Tel: +34-943-868811. E-mail: contact
Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi, Alto de Zorroaga, 20014 Donostia, San Sebastian. 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.


1969 discovered by Rafael Rezabal and Andoni Albizuri, members of Aranzadi Natural Science Society.
1969 start of excavation by J.M. Barandiaran.
1975 excavations completed under J. Altuna.
1985 first plans to build a replica to protect the fragile paintings.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
11-SEP-2008 cave replica opened to the public.
19-SEP-2008 Lower Palaeolithic settlement at the cave entrance excavated by Jesús Altuna.


The Cueva de Ekain (Cave of Ekain) contains Magdalenian cave paintings, which are regarded as outstanding examples of the franco-cantabric school. All pictures were created in this period of the Upper Palaeolithic, about 13,000 years ago, but the excavations in the entrance area revealed remains from a much longer period. Occupation started during Chatelperronian (little evidence), through the Magdalenian, and lasted to the end of Azilian.

The pictures include all kinds of animals and also some symbolic paintings. There are both paintings and engravings. All the paintings are either monochrome red or black, or they used both colours. But no other colours were used. Together about 60 animal figures were found, showing deers, goats, bisons, fishes, and bears. The paintings are found between 50 m and 150 m from the entrance.

The most commonly depicted animals are horses. They more skills than the other animals, which may be a result of more practice. Some of the horses have a characteristic ventral M, which distinguishes from horse paintings in other caves.

This cave has been closed to the public since its discovery, and so the paintings are preserved extremely well. Concerning the bad experiences with other caves this will not change in future. In order to make the extraordinary painting available to all people, there are numerous initiatives, like high quality books, 3D Scanning, and finally a complete replica of the cave called Ekainberri. This replica has now been completed and does not simply concentrate on the paintings, but it is a perfect copy of the whole cave and its content, including faked bones of a cave bear, which had been found in the original cave. The visit includes the unlimited visit of the museum plus an 30 minutes guided tour of the cave replica.