To truly appreciate the antiquity of Spanish culture, one must start at the beginning. So where is a good place to start?
The answer can be found in twenty eight kilometers west of Santander, near the small town of Puente Viesgo, nestled in a peaceful, green landscape—cows and farms dappling the beautiful hills that roll into a quaint village. But lurking in the shadowy cracks of this pastoral vista are ancient traces of humanity, in the the depths of the Monte Castillo caves. One of the caves open to the public is Cave of El Castillo (Cueva de El Castillo) which contains art painted up to 40,000 years ago.
Upon entering the cave, you will see a historical array of techniques and colors. The wall art includes red dots, negative human (or possibly Neanderthal) hand prints and representations of animals including what appears to be a mammoth. The abstraction of these Paleolithic art styles are said to have been an inspiration for the more recent artists such as Picasso and Miro. No tour of Spanish art is complete without a visit to la cueva de El Castillo.
Reservations can be made on http://cuevas.culturadecantabria.com/english/castillo.asp
Getting to Cueva del Castillo:
Bus – Various bus lines run from Santander to Puente Viesgo everyday. Bus information from most major cities can be found at the official ALSA Spanish bus site, or at santandereabus.com. Google maps also has accurate directions for public transportation to the caves.
Driving -If you are renting a car, Puente Viesgo is a 30-minute drive from Santander, a 25-minute drive from Santillana del Mar, and a 4-hour drive from Madrid. It is located on National Highway 623 (Burgos road).