Photo: PDF guide

Know the cave of Ardales!

How to visit the cave of Ardales. Neanderthals in Spain.

03 July 2022

What is this page about

Ardales is an idyllic village that hides an incredible treasure – one of the most important archaeological sites where we can find traces of prehistoric Spain – the Cave of Ardales.

If you want to visit the cave of Ardales, you must book a guided tour via email or through the Giglon ticket platform. A ticket for an adult will cost you 15 euros, 8-12 years old children 5 euros.

How to visit the cave of Ardales

There are some restrictions for visiting the cave: it is not suitable for small children under 8 years old and over 70 years old people, as well as highly pregnant women, since the cave is not equipped with comfortable stairs and the floor is slippery due to the constantly present humidity. It seemed an exaggeration to me, because it was very convenient to move inside the cave, but if you wear suitable (hiking) shoes, you will be ok.

If I understood correctly, there are no English tours to the cave (a common problem in Spain), and if you don’t speak Spanish, it’s recommended to bring a Spanish-speaking friend with you. The tour lasts 3 hours and starts at the museum in the center of Ardales. Important: you need to come on your own vehicle, as you need to drive from the center to the cave on your own, following the guide (about 3 kilometers on an unpaved road).

The museum is small and very interesting. You will have enough time to explore it during the tour. The museum contains a collection related to the human origins of the municipality and its surroundings. In its six rooms, in chronological order, tools and objects relating to all periods of prehistory, from the Lower Paleolithic to the Bronze Age, are exhibited. The guide will tell you a story about interesting objects and demonstrate you how they used to make fire with flint and stone. Full immersion in the prehistoric era.

Exhibits of the Museum and Prehistoric Center of Ardales

Entrance to the cave of Ardales

History of the cave of Ardales

Unfortunately, you cannot take photos in the cave. At the entrance everyone receives a flashlight.

The cave is huge, it consists of many halls, each of them has its own name. The cave was discovered in 1821, and it has not been fully explored since then. A group of archaeologists works in the cave discovering new halls and remains of people who lived there.

Much evidence about Neanderthals´ presence has been found in Ardales. The Neanderthals were an exclusively European population whose geographical border reached the lands of the eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus. The Neanderthals were the pinnacle of the evolutionary process of the first people who lived in Europe for over a million years, but they seem to have had problems that prevented positive demographics, perhaps a lack of knowledge about genetic anomalies, or climatic changes that could reduce the amount of fauna in the territories, causing distance between groups to the point that they isolated themselves and doomed them to a population with no future.

Judging by the age of the remains found in the area, Neanderthals were the first who inhabited these lands. Nowadays scientists are doing research to create new technologies that will provide more reliable information about what happened in the period from the decline of the Neanderthals (-50,000 years ago) to the arrival of Homo sapiens from Africa (-40,000 years ago), who also lived in the cave of Ardales.

Hall of Stars in the Cave of Ardales. Source: PDF guide.

Important “exhibits” of the cave that you will see: red marks made by Neanderthals more than 45,000 years ago, animal figures carved into the rock from 14,000 to 30,000 years ago, children’s handprints left more than 35,000 years ago, and a series of painted female figures made over 25,000 years old. Also some burials of people were found in the cave (one will be shown to you) aged from 6500 to 3500 years. Isn’t that impressive?

Handprints in the cave of Ardales. Source: PDF guide.
Rock art in the cave of Ardales. Source: PDF guide.

Human remains buried in the Ardales Cave represent a huge base for future scientific research. More than a dozen tombs are still inside and have not yet been studied. The selection of bones for research was carried out on the basis of their preservation. Some remains are waiting for their research when new future technologies will provide much more data than now.

Human remains in the cave of Ardales (3500 years old). Source: PDF guide.
Burial place (one of these will be shown to you during the tour). Source: PDF guide.

Many lamps (portable or stationary) were found in the cave, which were made by converting stalagmites into a fuel tank.

Prehistoric lamp. Source: PDF guide.

How many new things scientists still have to discover and show to the world! Spain is full of archaeological sites that are not yet open to the public. In the meantime I will continue to show you places, including underestimated places, which are just worth visiting!