Cueva de La Peña

Caverna de La Peña de Candamo - Cueva del Cándamo


Useful Information

photography
Ciervo herido de la cueva de la Peña de Candamo, Spain. Public Domain.
Location: San Román de Candamo. AS-236 Carretera de Grullos to Peñaullán.
Meet at: Centro de Interpretación de la Caverna (Interpretation Center of the Cave), Valdés-Bazán Palace, San Román de Candamo.
(43.456230, -6.072612)
Open: Cave:
Easter Week, 15-JUN to SEP Tue-Sun 11, 12, 13.
Reservation required.
Interpretation Center:
NOV to MAY Wed-Sun 10-14.
JUN to SEP Tue-Sun 10-14.
Guided tours 11, 12, 13.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 2, Children (7-15) EUR 1.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 1.50, Children (7-15) EUR 0.60.
On Wed free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=200 m asl.
Guided tours: MinAge=7, Max=15, MaxDay=45.
Photography: forbidden
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Eduardo Hernández-Pacheco y Esteban, Francisco Benítez Mellado (1919): La caverna de la Peña de Candamo (Asturias), Junta para Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CIPP, no. 24. Madrid. online
J.A. Moure (1981): Algunas consideraciones sobre el "Muro de los grabados" de San Román de Candamo (Asturias), Altamira Symposium (Madrid 1979), pp. 339-352. Madrid.
Address: Ayuntamiento de Candamo, Tel: +34-985-828056, Tel: +34-985-828351, Fax: +34-985-828228. E-mail:
Cueva de La Peña, Information, Tel: +34-985-828056 (Mon-Fri 9-14), +34-985-829702 (Sat, Sun, Hol 9-10). E-mail:
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.

History

1914 explored by E. Hernández Pacheco, assisted by J. Cabré and Ben'tez Mellado.
1942 cave declared a National Monument.
1980 cave closed for the public.
1990s cave opened to the public.
1999 museum in the Valdés Bazán Palace in San Román de Candamo opened to the public.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

Cueva de La Peña (Cave of the Hill), also called Caverna de La Peña de Candamo (Cave of the Hill of Candamo) is one more of the famous Prehistoric art caves, but this one is extraordinary. It is located at the westernmost end of the limestone karst area, so it is the westernmost cave available to Stone Age man. This makes it also the westernmost painted cave in Europe. The entrance of the cave is located at the top of a steep hill called Peña de Candamo, hence the name. This is exceptional too, as all other cave art sites are located just above the present-day river course.

This cave contained no artifacts or other remains of human occupation. A small cave nearby contained a single thick layer, with abundant artifacts of Solutrean age (21,000-16,500 BP). But the paintings of Solutrean and Magdalenian age in this cave are of great artistic importance.

The paintings were first recognized by archaeology in 1914, when they were examined by E. Hernández Pacheco, Professor of Geology at the Complutense University. At the same time the Conde de La Vega del Sella (Count of La Vega del Sella), an important Asturian prehistorian, discovered the the cave. According to legend, they handled the situation civilized, and Hernández Pacheco, who was first, published their combined research in 1919. His book is considered one of the most complete monographs published on Palaeolithic art in the Cantabrian area. The bureaucracy need some decades, but finally in 1942 the cave was declared a National Monument. Unfortunately the cave was not protected and was still accessible without restrictions, which resulted in massive destructions. Finally in 1980 the cave was closed and studies focused on environmental conservation and recovery of the art were carried out. After more than a decade, in the 1990s, the cave was finally reopened to the public on a strictly limited schedule.

Sala de los Signos Rojos (Chamber of the Red Signs) is a small chamber right after the cave entrance. It was named after numerous abstract patterns consisting of a series of red dots and lines and a sort of triangle. We do not know their meaning, one of the theories is that this are male and female symbols.

At the end of the gallery, a narrow passageway leads to the Salón de los Grabados (Engraving Chamber). It was named after a panel of fine engravings, including a reindeer, which is located on the opposite wall. The great majority of Palaeolithic art in the Cueva de La Peña were found on the walls of this chamber. They are separated by stalagmite formations into panels, which are each named after an characteristic aspect, mostly of the stalagmites. The Mogote Estalagmítico (Stalagmitic Mogote) has several engravings, the Panel de la Cabra (Panel of the Goat) has a single black figure of a goat, henc the name. The Talud shows the profile of a red horse and the Columnas (Columns) are decorated with vertically aligned red circles. El Camarín (The Dressing Room) is the most spectacular ensemble in the cave. It is a section of the highest part of the Engraving Room, located between two impressive stalagmites. A group of horses with a bull is considered the emblem of the cave. One of the horses is painted in sienna, dominating two more horses and a bull. El Muro de los Grabados (The Wall of Engravings) is a large uniform wall, showing bovids, horses, deer, goats, a bear, a strange figure interpreted as a seal and an anthropomorphic figure. An important group in the upper left part shows bovids, deer, chamois and an anthropomorphic figure.

The paintings were created between pre-Magdalenian times and the late Magdalenian. Severaldifferent techniques were used to create them, single-line engravings, engravings with multiple strokes, paintings in red, sienna or black. The black colour was often used to outline the animal figures or to oaint symbols. Often engraving and painting were combined.

Since 1999 there is a museum named Centro de Interpretación de la Caverna de Candamo in the Valdés Bazán Palace in San Román de Candamo. It shows replicas of the cave's main artworks, and is open all year and without the massive restrictions of the cave. It is also the starting point for cave tours, it is recommended to visit the museum first as an introduction to the cave.