The replica of Ekain Cave is in Sastarrain Valley, 600m from the cave and 1km from the centre of Zestoa. Sastarrain is a small valley surrounded by deciduous woodland, farms and meadows, and was the setting for the Palaeolithic artists at Ekain about 14,500 – 10,000 years ago. In order to conserve this natural scenery, measures have been taken, such as to forbid all access to Ekainberri by motor vehicles.
Regional Archaeological Context:
The valleys of the Rivers Deba and Urola contain a large number of caves with evidence of Upper Palaeolithic occupation, as well as some rock art from the same time (at Praileaitz I and Gastarigarriaga). Ekain is the main site, however, especially for the late Magdalenian period.
Archaeological evidence at the site:
Ekainberri is an architectonic and museum project which has involved the collaboration of several institutions and individuals, grouped in the Ekain Foundation. The replica, designed by the architect Jose Maria Alberdi and the archaeologists Jesús Altuna and Koro Mariezkurrena, is located in a large building integrated in the landscape of Sastarrain Valley.
The interior of the museum is a reproduction of the original cave. The Palaeolithic rock art was produced with the same techniques and materials as the original paintings. The darkness, sounds and temperature envelop visitors to transport them to the past. The suitably-lit walkway invites visitors to move through the replica, and discover the images painted by humans 14,500 – 10,000 years ago.
Horses and bison painted in ochre and black, engravings, and reliefs with evocative forms appear to visitors along a route which faithfully reproduces the inside of Ekain Cave.
Ekain Cave contains a large ensemble of rock art with over seventy figures in five groups. Most of the representations are very naturalistic, and about 50 – 70cm long. The figures of horses, which are especially outstanding, are concentrated on a large wall, in association with bison. Other animal figures include ibex, deer, fish and two bears.
Paintings are more numerous than engravings, while some figures combine both techniques. Most paintings are in black, but red figures are also frequent. The animals are represented as outlines or the bodies may be filled with colour-wash. There are a small number of incised engravings.
Late Magdalenian (between 13,500 and 12,000 years ago).
Type of Site: Ekain Cave and Visitors' Centre with replica.
Address: Ekainberri Information Office, Portale Kalea 9, 20740 Zestoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Telephone: 943 868 811
Fax: 943 868 811
State/Region: Pais Vasco
Location: Sastarrain Valley
The exhibition has information about other aspects of Ekain and explains in greater detail what visitors can see in the replica. The information is shown with displays, audio-visual presentations and objects. It describes the discovery of the cave, the context in which it was occupied and decorated, and other caves with rock art in the Basque Country and the rest of the world.
Visited areas: the visit includes the natural area of the cave (Sastarrain Valley) and the Ekainberri Centre, with the replica of the cave and an exhibition about Palaeolithic rock art in the Basque Country.
Booking and access:
Activities and Workshops:
There is a service of educational workshops and a full programme of activities for school groups.
Nearby cultural destinations:
Historical town of Zestoa: town hall, parish church, toriles house, the main square and other architectonic works.
Zubi Zaharra Bridge (12th century) and Lauiturri Fountain (18th century).
Lili Group: Mansion house with Lili Palace (15th-16th centuries), Llibea House and the ruins of Errotatxo and Errotazar mills and Nagusiay Txikia iron foundry. Loyola Sanctuary, birthplace of San Ignacio de Loyola (Azpeitia) (7 km).
Traditional fishing villages of Zumaia (6 km), Guetaria (9 km) and Zarautz (12 km).
Nearby natural destinations:
Pagoeta Natural Park (Aia) (15km).
Accommodation near the site:
Gran Hotel Spa of Cestona
Bainuetxeko errepidea 12. ZESTOA
Tel: 943 147 140
Fax: 943 147 064
Restaurants near the site:
Kaleokerra 5 (Zestoa)
Tel: 943 897 331
Erdikalea 7 (Zestoa)
Tel: 943 148 464
Gesalaga kalea 24 (Zestoa)
Tel: 943 147 040
Toribio Altzaga 1 (Zestoa)
Tel: 943 147 758
Gran Hotel Spa
Bainuetxeko errepidea 12 (Zestoa)
Tel: 943 147 140