La Cueva de la Pileta en la Red

The Pileta cave on the Net


Spain, Day Four - (Monday) - Gaucin and Cueva de la Pileta.
Posted by Gabrielle. February 22, 2008.

... Oh, the caves were AMAZING!!!!! Amazing! Amazing! It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen! After a long climb up rock steps on the side of a mountain there is a little round door...turns out the mountain is practically hollow. We had to wait outside for almost an hour with the guide, who was hoping that more people would show up, but in the end it was only us. Inside, there are chambers (galleries) that have paintings, some of which date back as far as 25,000 B.C., among the oldest cave paintings that have ever been found...


It rocked - La Cueva de la Pileta.
By LambsOnTheLoose on May 13, 2006.

NOTE: Bring patience, seriousness, a flashlight & shoes with good traction. You must be able to walk over rough terrain to climb from the carpark up to the mouth of the cave, where you wait for the guide. Also, inside it's rather slippery, with few handholds to prevent falling.

In 2001 we drove out from Ronda to visit this prehistoric cave that still lets ordinary people, and not strictly scientists, view pictographs. When enough people had gathered at the entrance to justify a tour, our group had a brief introduction by the guide, who then handed out several lanterns. Walking back into the cave, our guide pointed out some of the highlights, which he asked the lantern-holders to illuminate. It would be much better to have your own flashlight, because you can't always rely on the little, smoky lanterns to do a good job. The route was never very small, so we didn't feel claustrophobic. As I recall, we went only about 500 m. inside, but the cave goes much farther back than the guided tour does. There was an incredible feeling of being face to face, almost, with the users of this cave 20K years ago. Where these people had had fires in one chamber, the charred rock at the back of the "fireplace" had been partially covered up by now-solid layers deposited by limestone drips over the eons*.

It's impossible to describe the intellectual/emotional experience. It was one of the highlights of my life. The first 2 links below treat the cave as if it were an amusement for cavers, but that doesn't do it justice. La Cueva de la Pileta is definitely accessible to able-bodied non-cavers who - I sincerely hope - plan to take it seriously: this is one of the only prehistoric caves which "mere mortals" can enter...


The Cueva Pileta near Ronda.
07 Jul 2007. Posted by Glynis.

... The cave system is of limestone and there are some incredible geological phenomena including the calcite formations of stalactites and stalagmites, some of which were damaged in Antiquity, probably for ritual purposes; the "Venus of La Pileta" and El Organo. The Organ consists of huge vertical pleats of hollow rock which can be played like an organ or a drum. Most memorably The Organ was played by Ringo Starr during a 1960s Beatles recording session in the Cueva....


26,000 year old paintings (Podcast).

February 1, 2006. This includes a story about Cueva de la Pileta, a cave in southern Spain where I experienced 26,000 year old Paleolithic paintings. This reality changed everything.

13-01-07. Pileta Cave, Spain pics off web (Slideshow) Pileta de Prehistoria

Little known archeological wonders of the world.

... And in Spain, we were just at the Cueva de la Pileta which has prehistoric cave paintings. There isn't as many drawings as in the more famous caves in France, but there are also far fewer visitors. Basically, the drawings are protected by simple spaning chicken wire in front of them. Not very developed in a touristy way, you walk around in a group for an hour and they ask for volunteers to carry the lanters. Posted 31 July 2005 03:59 by Elis.


Homes of Bullfighting and Prehistoric Cave Art in Southern Spain.

12-11-06. On a fall trip through southern Spain we paged through guidebooks in search of prehistoric caves along our route. Our grail: caves where art created by primitive man had not yet been closed off for preservation...

... Driving along the Costa del Sol, which has in many spots become a cliffside jumble of resort development, we turned inland at Nerja and drove a short distance to the well-known Nerja caves. These huge caverns attract lovers of stalactites and stalagmites as well as those interested in prehistoric cave art. While the guidebooks indicated that the original art might no longer be on view, we decided to doublecheck. A quick conversation at the ticket office confirmed that only reproductions could be seen at the museum.

Not good enough for us!! While we understand the need to preserve the paintings, the thrill of seeing them by flickering lantern light on the cool cavern walls where artists first placed them can’t be equaled in a museum setting. We were set to spend the next night in the mountain town of Ronda, known for its claim as the home of the art of bullfighting, its 1740 bridge over a spectacular gorge and its unspoiled white town. We decided we would detour the next day to the Piletas Caves, set high on a cliff. These lesser-known, smaller caves have not yet closed off all their paintings—some said to be as old as any in Spain...


A few years back when I was traveling in Southern Spain in the region of Andalusia. In that region there are a series of white washed towns located at the tops of hills. Besides being picturesque, the town locations aided with defense as this was the last area contested by the Moors at the time of the Spanish re-conquest of Spain in the late 1400s. These towns are know simply as "Los Pueblos Blancos" or the white towns. While this region seems very old to most Americans, what we were looking for was much older.

Near Rhonda, the home of bull fighting, and located above the village of Benaoján we had read of the existence of a cave which contained Palaeolithic cave art. Unlike the better known caves in Europe, this cave is still open to the public and tours are given daily by the family of the farmer on whose land the cave resides... By Chris Christensen (08/18/06)


He is the first thing I see when I stumble onto the landing, gasping for air, after an all-too-ardous climb in the Andalusian sun. I hear German, lots of German, children's voices and the occasional parental warning, but José is all I see. He is an older man, 56" or 57", lean and tan. He is balanced against a rock, half sitting, half standing. Arms crossed over his chest, face blank. Silent. Looking past him I spot the cave entrance, blocked by a wrought iron gate... By a wandering woman (06/04/05)


March 17, 1991
Strolling in the Sierras Of Ancient Andalusia

... At this point we were to visit the Cueva de la Pileta. I wasn't looking forward to it. I'd been to touristic caves in the United States and had visions of neon lights, organ music, signs and figurines -- Disneyland with a joke-telling guide. The Cueva de la Pileta is not like that. You have to climb quite a few stair steps cut into the hillside to reach an unpretentious wooden door. Perhaps they weed out the uncommitted that way. From the entrance, in a small group, you will be conducted by the flickering light of a spirit lamp along a slippery path hollowed out by a subterranean river. The calcite formations are superb and the prehistoric art, so ancient, so mysterious, is likely to send shivers down your spine.

NOT far from the entrance you will see a horse and a bull in red and yellow ocher outlined in charcoal on a wall. In the new galleries, reached by ladder, are ocher meanderings that are presumed to be man's earliest symbol for water. At the far end of the central nave is an extraordinary panel -- a pregnant mare surrounded by double finger strokes, made at different times by different hands and believed to be symbols for birth and water.

Beyond the lake is the chamber of the fish. On one wall is the outline of a great black fish within which was added at a later time the likeness of a seal. The seal faces left toward a mass of geometric markings that scholars think are about 7,000 years old...


Marshack distinguishes several styles among the severines of La Pileta Cave:

These include idiosyncratic individual ‘styles’ made in various contemporary traditions…. [Some are] meanders and additions made by one, two, or three fingers using a yellow ochre. These are in the early, ‘primitive,’ basic style. Although many of the markings present a double or triple marking, each is a ‘unit.’…The style is clear: there is a basic, ‘central’ meander and then branches or additions are attached or are arranged in proximity. In some panels…the meander is associated with animals: ibex, bull, and ‘rhono’ or bear….A later, more evolved meander usage [also exists] in which a more formal style begins to give a geometric appearance to the linear, carefully drawn [severine] structure…[a] core meander consisting of doubled lines and the additions….[An] essential tradition of attached lateral branches, crossing marks, and linear extensions of the serpentine form (Marshack 1977:301)...



...The spiral and circle are both dynamic symbols that “are either themselves energy incarnate or are stimulators of the process of becoming” (Gimbutas 1989, p.277). Since the Upper Paleolithic period, the spiral has represented energy and cyclic time such as in the spiral markings at the La Pileta cave, near Gibralta, Spain, c13,000-10,000 BC, (Figure 1) (Gimbutas 1989, p.279). For many thousands of years these markings have continued to be produced by disparate cultures worldwide with variations often appearing as opposed spirals, horns, crescents, snakes (Gimbutas 1989, pp. 279-293), tree of life, which is a stylised spherical vortex and labyrinth (Purce 1974, p.29). The spiral symbol, represented as a stylised abstraction of the snake, suggests associations of rebirth and regeneration which may allude to the periodic shedding of the snake’s skin as it goes through its life cycle, and also to the movements of the waxing and waning moon (Gimbutas 1979, p.282). The spiral therefore may operate as a metaphor for the eternal transformational nature of a universal life force. This symbol is an archetype that represents the eternal human search for wholeness within the divine essence to achieve knowledge of true self and transcendence (Purce 1974, p.19)...

(Figure 1). Serpentine forms and horned animals, ca.13,000-10,000 BC. Painting, H. figure at left 80cm, La Pileta cave, near Gibralta, Spain.
Gimbutas, Marija. 1989, The Language of the Goddess, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London.