Altamira:Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art!

November 11, 2008


How many people, let alone homeschool kids, get to visit both Altamira and Lascaux prehistoric caves  to have a deeper understanding of art and prehistoric man? We placed them close together on our summer tour with ultra modern Guggenheim in Balboa in between! Mozart proudly has a pin for each (as that seems to be the small souvenir collection quest this year). The stupendous cave art  is a stunning sight for adults and children, that is simply unforgettable.

"...we are confronted with nothing less than the birth of art.....From this instant, the history of civilization began...".
Jose Camon Aznar


"Nothing you may read or hear about the caves of Altamira quite prepares you for the sensitive artistry, the sophistication, the elegance, the spirituality of the cave paintings of Altamira, executed some 15,000 to 20,000 years ago and considered the most important in the world from the prehistoric Magdalenian period." Penelope Casas


For many years, it was easy to see both Altamira and Lascaux, but then it was discovered that the carbon monoxide damage from visitors could destroy the paintings. Thus, sadly, we did not get to see the originals, but both have great museums that have good copies and information that are well worth seeing. Mozart probably did not notice the difference and perhaps it was even better for her visit because of the educational additions, but we adults wish we could have seen the original.


Museo De Altamira  did a good job of recreating the cave, although we must admit that we all preferred the Lecaux tour, as the French  just seemed to have a superior way with creating good museums and tours in our experience. Nevertheless, we all learned a lot. I like the way they added the archeological aspects and Mozart loved the holographic cave people and how she got to do some chipping away at the rocks to get an idea about how hard that was. Just seeing the drawings shatters anyone's idea about prehistoric man, which my photos explain better than my words.


They also had some good books. "Kushuk in Altamira" is a popular Spanish one and Mozart also enjoyed one called "Noune, Child of Prehistory" by Michel Vaidisthat that taught about prehistoric times through a young boys story. Boy of the Painted Cave  and Dar and the Spear Thrower are good  historical fiction chapter books from this time period, although I wish they had more stories with pre historic girl heroes.  This is a good bibliography of Prehistoric Fiction and we liked these fun sites for kids about prehistoric art.


This was a homeschool field trip, well worth taking!







I am participating in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday series with this post. Please check it out!

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Beth Blair

What a fantastic experience!


What a fortunate young lady to be having such amazing experiences. And even more fortunate parents to get to see the world through your child's eyes!


As always, your reports & photos fascinate me! I know you don't post "awards" on your site, but I gave you a Blog Award anyway...because I truly love reading about your adventures!

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to update!


Thanks Beth! It was more fascinating than we expected.

Karen-Thanks! Aren't we lucky? We really do not take these blessings for granted and some days want to pinch ourselves!

HappyCampers-Wow! You do not know how this touched my heart!

I was starting to feel really bad that I was not posting as much as I want to, due to our faster travel and writing on another blog for the disadvantaged school kids that follow us virtually. Your timing was perfect!

( I have many written, just not up yet...should speed up once I settle back in Spain)

Sometimes I am tempted to give up on the blog world as I still am trying to learn how to balance it all on the road.

I retired early, but blogging,pictures and writing for Reach The World gives me a full time job & stress!

Thanks so much for the encouragement, as it is not always easy to blog & homeschool while one tours the world. ;) Slow internet is the bane of my existence.

I would put up the award if I knew how, but I am still internet challenged and don't know how to add things on typepad. ;)


what a fantastic experience. Thanks for sharing this.

Lil' Boozie

See, now why couldn't field trips have been more like this?

As always, striking images. I love reading about your adventures, and also trying to experience life through your daughter's eyes. What a great life lesson you've given to her!

"3 Troopin' Travelers"


Your child is super super lucky not only to visit these caves, but to be experiencing everythign you are giving her. she will be such an open minded adult.
i would love to home school, but simply dont' have the patience for it, however, in the interim i try to get my kid to see as much of the world as possible. for now we're mainly in central america and US, but more is coming really soon:)


Our family just eats up caves and prehistoric cave art too. We especially love descending into the cool earth on a hot summer day.

Last summer we checked out a cave near Ronda (and also near your winter digs!) called La Cueva del Gato. Nothing like Lascaux, but we loved venturing in with our propane lanterns to look for the paintings.

There is an adjacent swimming hole too for a swim afterwards (cave water, brrrr).


We've had few chances to see such art...mostly a few pictographs in the Boundary Waters area and petroglyphs near Sanilac (Michigan) and in northern Ontario.
This looked like a fascinating trip!

We did manage the Bilbao Museum when we went to Spain/France a few years ago. I wasn't much for the ultra modern art, but the Gehry building itself fascinated me. I have scads of photos I took there!

Mother of all trips

I do think that some of the power comes through in these photos. Isn't it the best when you can

a. show your children phenomenal stuff that you know they will always remember and

b. help them to make real-life connections?

It's one of my favorite things about travel - the ability to provide a liberal arts education to my kids.

Debbie Dubrow

Thanks so much for sharing this. I always love seeing the world through your eyes.

kat calvin

How incredible! This is what makes homeschooling completely worth it!


REALLY cool - and how much fun, to be mozart? lucky girl!


These are amazing and looks like fun!!

Mark H

The caves around France are special. Would love to see Altamira as well. The same France region has some original caves too if you want to see "the real thing"


Wonderful! Those are something I have always wanted to see.

Barbara Steinmetz

we will visit all prehistoric sites in may / june 2009
thank you for information -
we will send you our photographs if you like ...


That looks like a great museum! I love the archeological dig display and the hands on rock chipping!
It's a shame you can't visit the caves, but it seems like they tried to make up for all of that with the museums.

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