La Garma

Completed Project
Cantabria, Spain

Site History and Significance

An Unique Archaeological Site

The cave of La Garma is a unique archaeological site that boasts an impressive collection of rock art and archaeological remains from the Paleolithic age. It is part of the world-renowned network of karst caves located in Cantabria in Northern Spain, included on the World Heritage List as Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain. La Garma is the name of the mountain nestled in Sierra Calobra where five levels of caves have been discovered to date. 

Evidence of Human Activity Spanning over 300,000 Years

The Lower Gallery, discovered in 1995, contains the largest example of Paleolithic floors in the world, in an extraordinary state of conservation. A landslide approximately 15,000 years ago sealed the cave and kept the ancient remains mostly intact through the years. The rock art in La Garma and the surrounding caves make up one of the best archaeological sequences in Europe, with evidence of human activity spanning over 300,000 years, up until the Middle Ages.

Our Involvement

Patronage by Renowned Shoe Designer to Conserve and Promote La Garma

Two decades after the rediscovery and initial study of the Lower Gallery at La Garma, scientists saw the need for additional study of the cave’s underground system—its microclimate and microbiology—and assessment of the state of conservation of the rock art. 

With support from American shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, who has been producing shoes in Spain since the 1970s, World Monuments Fund launched a project in 2017 to conserve and promote La Garma. As part of the project, a multidisciplinary team of experts studied the cave’s ecosystem and archaeological remains, and assessed the state of conservation of the cave’s art forms and floors to inform the development of a conservation plan.

Enhancing Visitor Experience through Virtual Reality

In order to allow the public to explore the cave’s interior while protecting the fragility of its environment, the Stuart Weitzman Foundation, in collaboration with WMF, funded the production of a virtual reality tour of the cave. In January 2020, Forbes magazine included Memoria: Stories of La Garma among the 50 top VR experiences of 2019. 

A new virtual reality tour is now planned, with support from the Fundación de Las Cuevas de Cantabria, which will allow access to La Pasiega, a cave closed to the public and considered a Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic art, like Lascaux and Altamira. WMF will support these initiatives through its the new Rock Art Conservation Program established thanks to the generous donations of Stuart Weitzman and Barbara Kreger, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, and other supporters.

Learn More

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Last updated:
May 2022

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