Scientific interest in the UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Atapuerca began in earnest in the 19th century with the initial concentration of research being conducted at Cueva Mayor.

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

In the year 2,000, the 248 hectares property known as sierra de Atapuerca was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites to safeguard its rich heritage that gives evidence to the origin and evolution of the existing human civilization in the Iberian Peninsula as well as other cultures that have disappeared.

The story of evolution from the African ancestors to the present day human kind is well documented in the sites of Sierra de Atapuerca. The fossils in the sites are an invaluable reserve of information that depicts the way of life and physical nature of the earliest European communities.

Sierra de Atapuerca is located in the on the northeastern edge of the Castilian Plateau. Originally, it was located about 1,000 meters above the sea level. However, due to weathering processes, the plateau is now a limestone slope covered with scattered scrubs. The water erosion over a period of 5 million years has led to the development of a karst system with elaborate cave system. Geological processes lowered the water table and thus made the caves suitable for animals and human residence.

It is from these caves that you will find the history of the early Europeans.

Site Description

Scientific interest in the UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Atapuerca began in earnest in the 19th century with the initial concentration of research being conducted at Cueva Mayor. The cave is entered from the southern side that opens to the El Portalon.

To the eastern side lies the Galeria del Silex that extends over a distance of 300 meters. On the western side you will find a series of caves including the popular ‘pit of Bones’ or Sima de los Huesos. The western caves open to the Galeria del Silo which has its own entry.

Further northwest you will find a group of caves that were revealed as a result of excavation for railway construction. The railway gets its name – La Trinchera del Ferrocarril – from the caves. The railway was never completed.

To the north, you will find the Gran Dolina, and to the south the Tres Simas as well as the ever popular La Galeria.

You are well advised to visit this budget friendly destination and have a look into how the early man in Europe survived the harsh weather terrain.

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