Altamira to reopen to visitors

June 8th, 2010 | by nick |

Spain has decided to reopen the Altamira cave complex in Cantabria after eight years being closed to visitors, despite scientists warnings’ that heat from human visitors damages the art. Visits are to resume next year on a restricted basis. The main chamber at Altamira features 21 bisons painted in ochre, red and black, which seem to charge against a low, limestone ceiling. The site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. The caves were first restricted and then closed after scientists warned that visitors’ body heat and carbon dioxide from breath were damaging the paintings, estimated to be 14,000 to 20,000 years old. El País

On seeing the paintings of bisons, horses, fawns and wild boars, Picasso famously proclaimed, ‘after Altamira, all is decadence’. A long line of great 20th century artists from Henry Moore to Miquel Barceló have been astonished and inspired by them. See also Altmira cave paintings

The caves are inscribed as masterpieces of creative genius and as the humanity’s earliest accomplished art. UNESCO

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