Cuevas de El Castillo y Las Monedas

Cueva del Castillo - El Castillo - Caves of Monte Castillo

Useful Information

Location: Puente Viesgo. N-623, Carretera de Burgos. (43.2908, -3.9665)
Open: MAR to 15-JUN Tue-Sun 9:30-15.
16-JUN to 14-SEP Tue-Sat 10-14:30, Sun 10-15:30.
15-SEP to 18-OCT daily 9:30-15.
19-OCT to FEB Tue-Fri, Sun 9:30-15:30, Sat 15:30-17:30.
Last visit 1h before closing.
Closed on 01-JAN, 06-JAN, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (4-12) EUR 1.50, Children (0-3) free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: H. Alcalde del Rio, L. Sierra (1911): Les Cavernes de la Region Cantabrique.
A. W. G. Pike1, D. L. Hoffmann, M. García-Diez, P. B. Pettitt, J. Alcolea, R. De Balbín, C. González-Sainz, C. de las Heras, J. A. Lasheras, R. Montes, J. Zilhão (2012): U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain, Science 15 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6087 pp. 1409-1413, DOI: 10.1126/science.1219957
Address: Cuevas de El Castillo y Las Monedas, Interpretation Centre of the Caves of Monte El Castillo, National Highway 623 (Burgos road), Puente Viesgo, Tel: +34-942-598425, Fax: +34-942-598305.
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.


1903 discovered by Alcalde del Rio.
1911 exploration results of H. Alcalde del Rio and L. Sierra published.


The hill El Castillo near Puente Viesgo is riddled with caves. Although not connected they are part of the same cave system which crosses the whole mountain. The caves were opened by the erosion of the limestone and are accessible for many thousand years. Many of the caves have been used by Stone Age man, many contain artworks like paintings and engravings. The entrance areas were inhabited and contain thick sedimentary layers with archaeological remains.

The 1,000m long Cueva de El Castillo (El Castillo Cave) contains more than 150 paintings of different styles from the upper Palaeolithic. In the entrance region an 18m thick deposit, the thickest known at the Cantabrian coast, was excavated and revealed remains from the Acheulien to the Bronze Age. At the beginning of the 20th century this allowed to establish a complete relative sequence of the European palaeolithic for the first time. Excavated by H. Alcalde del Rio and L. Sierra, the results were published in 1911.

Nearby lies the 300m deep Cueva Las Monedas (Las Monedas Cave). Next to the central chamber lies a small lateral chamber containing black paintings of animals and a panel of engravings.

The next cave is Cueva Las Chimeneas (Cave of the Chimneys). The chimneys this cave is named after are shafts connecting the two levels of the cave. There are some panels of parallel lines called macarroni, abstract figures and also some animal pictures.

And finally there is Cueva La Pasiega (La Pasiega Cave). The complex cave has a length of 300m and shows both paintings and engravings. The artworks are of comparable quality as in El Castillo Cave. It was discovered by H. Obermaier and P. Wernert.

According to a study which was started in 2005 and was still ongoing in 2012, a painiting at El Castilla is 40,800 years old, which is at least 15,000 years older than previously thought. The red sphere was dated using the Uranium/Thorium method, which is more accurate than the C14 method with older samples. Until now the paintings at Chauvet cave in France were thought to be the oldest, being about 32,000 to 37,000 years old. The consequence of this discovery is a new discussion about the origin of the paintings. According to current theory Homo neanderthalensis lived in Europe from about 250,000 years ago until about 35,000 years ago. Homo sapiens arrived in Europe around 45,000 years ago from the east and it took several thousand years to reach the western parts around 41,000 years ago. The question is, were those painting made by the first arriving modern men or by the native Neanderthals.