Visiting caves is an extraordinary experience. Exploring mountains from inside is fascinating and brave as you get to see, smell and feel the Earth from inside.
Some caves have been found very recently and access is still limited to visitors (Hang Son Doong- Vietnam), others have been used by our ancestors for shelter for thousands of years…
Some of the oldest inhabited caves by humans in the world are located in Indonesia, Spain, France and Bulgaria. The oldest historic cave paintings are believed to be preserved from over 35,000 – 40,000 years ago and some traces of ancient civilisations are still present.
In Europe, historic cave paintings can be seen in:
Magura Cave, Bulgaria
Cave of El Castillo, Spain
Grotte de Cussac, France
Pech Merle, near Cabrerets, France
La Marche, in Lussac-les-Châteaux, France
Les Combarelles, in Les Eyzies de Tayac, Dordogne, France
Chauvet Cave, near Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France
Cave of Niaux, France
Cosquer Cave, with an entrance below sea level near Marseille, France
Font-de-Gaume, in the Dordogne Valley in France
Cave of Altamira, near Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain
Cave of La Pasiega, Cuevas de El Castillo, Cantabria, Spain
Caves of Gargas, France
I had the pleasure to visit the Magura Cave in Bulagria, not long ago. The historic cave paintings here date to 8,000 years and represent the lifestyle, traditions and science of the people that were inhabiting this area.
The female fertility dance was happening around the end of summer in the traditions of the Magura cave inhabitants. Women were represented (above) with their hands up, dancing to attract the males. They were willing to become pregnant and carry their unborn children in the deeper and warmer areas of the Magura cave during the winter months.
In this cave was also found a drawing of one of the earliest representations of a solar calendar in Europe, which was remarkably accurate. It represented 366 days as well as the days in a week and four seasons.
Tips for visitors:
- The cave is located in the north-west of Bulgaria, near the town of Belogradchik. In the area people can also see the Belogradchik rock formations, the cave Veneza as well as the vineyard Magura.
- More information about the cave is available here
- Easy access for most age groups (there are stairs, it’s well illuminated with wide, straight paths).
- Should be accessible for people with fears of dark or tight spaces too.