La Cueva de la Vieja (Old Woman’s Cave), in the town of Alpera (Albacete) is one of the most significant sites of cave paintings in the oriental region of the peninsula. It has been declared a World Heritage site by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) since 1998.
Placed in the territory of El Bosque, the cave conserves two different types of prehistoric painted art; mainly Levantino art, but also schematic paintings. Pascual Serrano discovered the cave in 1910. Years later the researchers Henri Breuil and Juan Cabré, along with Pascual Serrano published the first studies in a prestigious French Journal, receiving international attention.
Its recognition as an archeological site was ratified in 1924 when it was declared a National Monument of Historical Art in Spain.
From the two hundred paintings distributed along the wall of the cave, most of these images are composed of Levantino art. This is the artistical and spiritual expression of the last groups of hunters and gatherers from the Mediterranean area (10000-6000 years ago), whom are in a way the descendents of the painters of Cave of Altamira.
The iconographic elements of this art are human and animal representations. Masculine individuals in the role of hunters (archers) are the main characters of La Cueva de la Vieja. They are shown alone on different parts of the wall and are also seen related to animals in their natural environment. We can recognize amongst the animals deer (most numerous), bulls, goats and some horses, which are the typical fauna of this type of paintings.
In the central part of the paintings, stands a pair of women dressed in a knee length garment with ornaments on their arms that are depicted to other painted scenes. All the paintings are in red color made with mineral pigments that have remained in excellent condition through the years. The instruments that the artist used to paint were birds feathers whose BARBA have very similar qualities to the modern day artist's brush and make possible the fine strokes and minute details that we can appreciated in the majority of the splendid figures in this cave.
The Levantino art is a unique, singular expression of beliefs in prehistoric Europe because it only appears in a limited territory that goes from Aragón and Cataluña to the Oriental area of Andalucía through the communities of Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha, and Murcia.
The other pictorical manifestation that is present in this cave is the schematic painting. It is an artistic and spiritual expression of the peninsular productive groups 7000-4000 years ago. The paintings are abstract (spots of color), geometric (vertical, zigzag... strokes), and schematic (antropomorphic and zoomorphic). They are all red color and the pigments used are mineral in origin. The instruments used by the artist in this setting is more variable, the use of the tip of the finger impregnated in paint or branches were commonly utilized as paint brushes. The final result are images with a more gestural character and more technical freedom.
La Cueva de la Vieja was the chosen place of prehistorical groups for thousands of years, to conduct a series of rituals in which the act of painting had an integral part. All the rituals were part of their world of beliefs, and in that sense the cave is a true sanctuary in which human action and the natural environment formed a particular symbiosis.
The visitor should consider the conservation problems that challenge our ability to view these extraordinary images. There is no end to the canvas upon which the artist painted outside of the natural structure of the cave, neither is there a flat surface upon which it was painted or the use of contrasting colors. There is also not a conventional perspective as we have become used to in modern day art. However, the paintings in front of you are thousands of years old demonstration of irreplaceable art, deriving itself from the human thoughts and aesthetics that have been paradoxically preserved by nature.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- Henri BREUIL; Pascual SERRANO y Juan CABRÉ, “Les peintures rupestres d´Espagne.IV. Les abris del Bosque a Álpera (Albacete), L´Anthropologie, XXIII, Paris, 1912, pp.529-562.
- Juan CABRÉ AGUILÓ, El Arte Rupestre en España, Madrid, 1915
- Anna ALONSO TEJADA y Alexandre GRIMAL, Las pinturas rupestres de la Cueva de la Vieja, Ayuntamiento de Alpera, 1992 (2ª edición).
- Anna ALONSO TEJADA y Alexandre GRIMAL, Introducción al Arte Levantino a través de una estación singular: la Cueva de la Vieja (Alpera, Albacete), Asociación Cultural Malecón, Alpera, 1999.
- Asador Los Arcos. Avda Reina Sofia, 26. Phone 967330731. Specialty: Grilled meats
- Restaurante El Cazador. Mejorada, 3. Phone 967335003. Specialty: homemade dishes and grilled chops.
- Bar-Restaurante El Rincón. Ctra Almansa, 2. Phone 967330712. Specialty: homemade dishes.
- Café- Bar Stop. Ramón y Cajal, 71. Phone: 967330034. Specialty: variety of tapas, lamb leg and grilled chops.
- Mesón Piqueras. Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 17. Phone 967330069. Specialty: variety of tapas, stuffed breads, and traditional foods from Alpera.
- Café-Bar Recreo. Ramon y Cajal, 8. Phone 967330604. Specialty: Tapas
TO STAY OVERNIGHT:
- Conjunto Residencial La Laguna. Phone 967582183/ 626988258. Fax: 626509919. Cell-phone 669820140. www.la-laguna.org
Church of Saint Marina (XVIIIth Century)
Hermitage of Saint Roque (XVIIth Century)
El pozo de la nieve (XVIIIth Century). The biggest snow pit in the whole region of Castilla- La Mancha. Were used to store ice before refrigeration.
Parque natural de la Mejorada. Park with hundreds years old oak trees.
May 3rd and September 14th : Day of the Holy Cross, patron of Alpera.
April 30th : singing of “Los Mayos”, popular song of Alpera welcoming the month of may. Takes place in the church at 12 at night.
August 10th to 16th: Festival of San Roque, with different events every day.
Visiting hours: Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 13. Please, call in advance; Phone: 967330555. Casa de Cultura, Plaza del Ayuntamiento 02690 ALPERA (Albacete). To visit in different days or times, call the given number.
Bienvenidos a La Cueva de la Vieja
Bienvenidos a las pagina web de la asociación de amigos de la cueva de la vieja, desde aquí podras estar al tanto de todas las actividades que vayamos haciendo y tendras acceso a toda información sobre la cueva de la vieja de alpera.