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Doña Trinidad cave

Andalucía (Spain)

Natural Environment:

Natural park of Ardales. Reservoirs of El Chorro (la Encantada), Conde de Guadalhorce and Guadalteba. Los Gaintanes Gorge.

Regional Archaeological Context:

Natural Park of Ardales (an area with geological, palaeontological and hydrological interest, as well as natural and historical-archaeological value), Bobastro Archaeological Zone and Historical Site, Medieval castles at Ardales and Turón, and other prehistoric, Roman and Medieval sites.

Site History:

All the evidence confirms that in late 1821 a powerful earthquake caused the boulders that had blocked the entrance since the late Neolithic to collapse, opening the northern entrance to the cave.

Doña Trinidad Grund (1821-1896), a member of nineteenth century Malaga society paid for the cave to be prepared for the annual festival. It was probably the first cave in Spain to be prepared as a show cave, and was visited by thousands of people.

The paintings and engravings were discovered by H. Breuil. To be precise, Miguel Such and his teacher Breuil found the Upper Palaeolithic representations of deer and horses in 1918.

Ten years later the State listed the cave as a National Monument. In 1981, a small single theme shrine was found in the Upper Galleries, in which an outstanding hind is representative of the black figures.

Archaeological evidence at the site:

The cave is 1577m long, following a NE-SW direction, with two inter-connected levels. The cave reaches a height of 7m above the entrance and a depth of 28m below it. It now has a single entrance at 565m above sea level, near La Calinoria Farm, and it is formed in Triassic marble limestone. Inside the entrance gate, the cave consists of several chambers, most of which can be visited, apart from areas which are delicate in terms of their access and conservation. The chambers in the cave are:

  • Sala del Saco: the area with evidence of the prehistoric occupation of the cave.
  • Sala de las Estrellas: the ceiling is over 20m high. It contains large columns, and evidence of prehistoric burials older than the Chalcolithic period.
  • Galería del Calvario or of the Engravings: It contains most of the Palaeolithic rock art.
  • Sala del Lago and Galería del Arquero: It is a small side-chamber with seasonal pools or gours, and Post-Palaeolithic paintings.
  • Sala de los Laberintos: The technical difficulties mean this chamber cannot be visited, despite the beauty of its formations.
  • High or New Galleries: A series of passages above Los Laberintos, discovered in 1981. Because of the difficulties of access and delicate archaeology, it cannot be visited.

Short Description:

The cave has a total length of 1577m. For its description, the cave has been divided into different units.

Sala de las Estrellas (with pre-Chalcolithic prehistotic burials), Galería del Saco (with prehistoric remains), Galería del Calvario or of the Engravings (with most of the engravings), Salita del Camaría, Galería de la Alcayata, Sala del Lago (Post-Palaeolithic paintings), Galería del Arquero, Los Laberintos and Final Cornice in the Lower or Old Galleries. Sala de la Olla, Galería de los Huesos, Sala del Redil and Galerías Blancas in the Upper or New Galleries (numerous paintings and archaeological remains). The archaeologist Sanchidrían Torti has identified as many as 220 representations distributed throughout the cave.


  • The cave was formed between the Upper Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene (2,000,000 to 300,000 years ago).
  • The collapse and blockages of the different entrances took place in the second half of the Middle Pleistocene (about 120,000 years ago).
  • The growth and development of the formations in the Upper Pleistocene is dated from 125,000 to 10,000 years ago.
  • During the Holocene (10,000 to 3000 BC) calcite covered part of the Palaeolithic paintings and engravings, and the floors with Neolithic remains. The entrance to the Upper Galleries was blocked in the third millennium BC, and the modern entrance, blocked since the late fourth millennium BC was not re-opened until 1821.
  • The prehistoric occupations date from the Neolithic and Copper Age. The rock art is above all Solutrean (Upper Palaeolithic) and Neolithic.


Type of Site: Cave
How to Find the Site: Municipal Museum, Ardales Town Hall, Municipal Tourism Department: Plaza de la Constitución 1, 29550, Ardales, Málaga. The cave is 2km from the town of Ardales. After a brief our round the Visitors Centre/Museum near the entrance to the town, vehicles and the guide drive along the road and track to the car park near the cave. The cave is only open to visitors who have booked, the rest of the time it remains closed. A strong gate and protective structure impede the entry of visitors without a guide.
Telephone: 952 458 087 
Fax: 952 458 169
www.malaga.es/provincia/cuevas/ficha.asp www.naya.org.ar/congreso2002/ponencias/rafael_maura_mijares.htm

State/Region: Andalucía
Province/Department: Málaga
Municipality: Ardales
Town: Ardales

Nowadays it is strongly protected and under a visitor controlled regime by the Ardales Town hall.

Information and contact: 
Ardales Town hall (Malaga)

 Constitution Square, 1 - 29550 Ardales -


Telephone: +34 952458087 - Fax:+34 952458169

Information cave Telephone : +34 952 458 046
E-mail 2:prehistoriaardales@guadalteba.com

Days of opening to the public:

  • Every day except every Monday (Only with previous appointment)

Age restrictions:

  • The visit is not recommended children under 5 years old.

Duration of guided tour:

  • 90 minutes.

Daily quota:

  • Only 1 visit per day whit 15 people.

Short Description of Museum and Visitors Centre:

The charming town of Ardales has a museum about the cave, its geomorphology, and all the historical periods that have left their trace in the cave, together with ample scientific (archaeological material, posters and explanations), tourist and educational information. There is also audiovisual and graphic material (maps and charts). An extension has just been opened with lecture halls, exhibition rooms, and other high-quality facilities

Nearby cultural destinations:

In Ardales: Puente de la Molina, Convent of Sa Francisco, Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, Church of Our Lady of Los Remedios, Turón Castle, Bobastro Complex, Peña de Ardales, etc.

Nearby natural destinations:

Natural Site of Los Gaitanes Gorge. On the banks of El Chorro Reservoir (6km away), the Town Hall manages Ardales park, a tourist area and camp-site, with restaurants and a full leisure and cultural offer, including the Municipal Museum of Geology, Archaeology, Nature and History of the Turón Valley. The spa of Carratraca is very near Cueva de Ardales.

Accommodation near the site:

Natural Park of Ardales, Chorro and Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, etc. In Ardales, next to Chorro and Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, and in Carratraca, etc.

Restaurants near the site:

Natural Park of Ardales, Chorro and Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, etc. In Ardales, next to Chorro and Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir, and in Carratraca, etc.


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11th May 2010 the Council of Europe granted the Mention European Cultural Route to the PRAT-CARP network.