Altamira to reopen

This item appears on page 67 of the August 2010 issue.

Over the protests of Spain’s scientific community and preservationists around the world, the Spanish Culture Ministry announced that it plans to reopen the Caves of Altamira to tourism, possibly by the end of this year. The caves, discovered in 1868, contain prehistoric art estimated to be from 14,000 to 20,000 years old. 

As many as 3,000 people a day visited the caves during the 1970s. Although the number of daily visitors was sharply curtailed from 1982 to 2002, the paintings still suffered significant deterioration, including green mold, from exposure to body heat and moisture. The caves were closed in 2002 and a replica of them was built near the site in Santillana del Mar.