Ekain shows an exceptional cave art of the Upper Paleolithic era. These artistic manifestations (paintings and engravings) created by the inhabitants of the cave, 14.000 or 13.000 years ago, appear as a global scale phenomenon. Ekain was declared World Heritage of Humanity in 2008 by UNESCO.
The museum Ekainberri, located 600 m away from the original cave, shows a representation of the most characteristic paintings found in Ekain. About 85% of the total art work is presented in a very realistic way.
Ekainberri offers an extraordinary adventure to the visitor. Once inside the museum, visitors lose consciousness of spatial boundaries, and walk throughout the cave discovering the magnificent paintings and creations.
Ekainberri contains one of the most interesting groups of cave art on the Cantabrian coast, not so much for the number of figures it has, but above all for the exceptional artistic quality of many of its paintings, and the good state of conservation of the art and its surroundings inside the cave. Among all the art work shown in Ekainberri there is one that stands out, the big panel of horses, named by André Leroi-Gourhan as the most perfect set of horses around the Quaternary Art. In addition to horses, there are also other animals such as bisons, deers, and goats.
THE EKAIN CAVE
The paintings of Ekain were made in the Upper Palaeolithic (from 40000 to 10000 years ago), particularly in the last period of it, in the Magdalenian period, from 14000 to 13000 years ago. The humans of this era had our own ways, they were homo sapiens, but their way of life was completely different from today, they were hunters and gatherers, and they knew neither agriculture nor livestock. Therefore, their diet was based on what they collected hunting and fishing, or what they could get directly from the land, such as fruits, roots or herbs.
Ekain is located in a spring hunting ground. At that time the climate was much colder than at the present time, it was the period of glaciations, so the temperature was about 10 ° Celsius below the current temperature, and the Basque mountains taller than 1,500 meters were covered with snow throughout the whole year. In order to protect themselves, humans used caves as shelters.
They used the cave entrance for a living, inhabited the area with most sun and light. The paintings, however, were located inside the cave, which was thought to be more special and sacred. They did not perform their everyday tasks here, they used the inside of the cave for their beliefs and to connect with the spiritual world instead.
All visits to the museum are guided tours. However, the tours will be a bit peculiar as we will walk through the cave in complete silence. The guide will not say anything either, each of you will start experiencing, what it felt like being and living within the cave. Look for paintings, peer with the darkness, listen to the sounds, and start connecting with the cave. Then, we will have the chance to see the paintings one by one and we will give some explanations for better understanding. Thus, we will leave Ekainberri with a better understanding of the Magdalenian period.
THE EKAIN ADVENTURE
Move around the valley as Sastarrain living in prehistoric times! Ekainberri allows us to approach the works of art created by our ancient ancestors . However, the visitor may prefer to get into their lifestyle. Experimental archeology gives us the option to rebuild with our own hands the different prehistoric techniques and allows us to test the supposed difficulty surviving during the Paleolithic . With the " Ekain adventure " we can hunt different animals in the hunting circuit adapted to that end , in a wonderful natural environment of the Sastarrain valley . The tour will also allow us to get closer to the flora and fauna of the area.
In the " Ekain adventure " you will also learn to paint and make fire, the way they did in the ancient times. Once the game is over, you will be given the option to have lunch and taste the typical delicacies of the area.