|See Telegraph article cited below|
|From The Ballroom Blog|
The most famous cave of all, Altamira, has been closed to the public since the 1970s; the crowds were destroying it, not by vandalism but just by their presence, changing the temperature and humidity that had preserved those marvelous paintings. To compensate, the authorities have built a life-size "neocave" millimetric replica of the main chambers, reproducing every crack and bulge of the rock and ever handprint (both positives — paint smeared on the palm of the hand and pressed against the rock — and negatives — paint blown over the back of the hand pressed on the rock), every charcoal or iron oxide figure, every engraving etched with some sharp stone. It was disappointing not to see the real thing, but still well worth the visit, because of the attached museum, with clear and vivid explanations of all the history and "prehistory", including the geological formation. At some future date, they plan to again admit very small numbers of people for limited visits. The other caves inhabited tens of thousands of years ago remain accessible (there are many, besides the two we visited, in Cantabria and southern France). Now for the first time I feel a desire to read Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear, her famous re-imagination of the age when Neanderthals and Homo sapiens cohabited the planet.
For more, see Spain to reopen Altamira Caves despite risk of destroying prehistoric paintings - Telegraph