This summer we were in the South of Spain for our holiday and one afternoon, when we had had enough lounging about we took a trip to a place nearby that had been recommended several times in the visitor book at our campsite. It was called the Cueva de la Pileta and we supposed it was a big cave system. This sounded like a interesting thing to see so we made our way there and found ourselves climbing up a hill and hanging around for a while waiting for enough people to turn up for the guide to take us in.
Once we were let into the dark cool chamber the guide explained that we were going to see, not just a big cave system, but one that had been inhabited more than 30,000 years ago. Artefacts and evidence of fire had been found in the outer caves, but more than that, deep in the cave they had found cave paintings.
We followed the guide into the cave, down slippy passageways, in the pitch dark with a few of our party carrying small lanterns. The moving lights cast shadows on the walls as we passed huge chambers, clear pools and sparkling white stalactites and stalagmites. We had been walking slowly for a good twenty minutes before we got to the furthest point, after which the floor was too unstable to walk on. And there, when the guide held his torch up in the huge chamber we could make out hundreds of paintings on the walls, done back at the time of the last ice age.
It was an amazing experience, and it really made us think about life way back in the Palaeolithic. Before seeing this cave I had thought that cave paintings were just paintings of animals and hunting scenes. But now it is more mysterious to me than ever. What on earth was this all about? It must have been frightening walking deep down into these slippy, cold, narrow passageways lit by nothing but some flickering torches. Certainly my daughter was claustrophobic and wanted to get out! The sparkling caverns must have seemed magical. Why did they choose to make paintings so deep in the caves where no-one ever lived? What did the paintings mean?
So we left the cave with many more questions than we went in with, and a need to find out more about the people who lived there. Not bad for an afternoons trip!
If you ever find yourself with an afternoon to spare in the Ronda region of Spain make sure you give these caves a visit.