Ekain features exceptional cave art of the Upper Paleolithic era. These artistic manifestations - paintings and engravings - created by the inhabitants of the cave, 14.000 to 13.000 years ago, appear as a global scale phenomenon. Ekain was declared a World Heritage site in 2008 by UNESCO.

The Ekainberri museum, located just 600 metres away from the original cave, presents representations of the most characteristic paintings found in Ekain. About 85% of the total artwork is displayed with remarkable realism.
Ekainberri offers an extraordinary adventure to the visitor. Once inside the museum, visitors lose consciousness of spatial boundaries, and walk throughout the cave discovering the magnificent paintings and creations.

A fragment of the famous rock art from the Ekain Cave depicts several drawings of horses.
Ekain’s large panel, featuring the famous set of horses. Fundación Ekain Fundazioa

Cave art

The set of horses in Ekain is one of the richest and most beautiful examples of Franco-Cantabrian art and it is considered the finest wall painting of its type. Described by French ethnologist, archaeologist and historian André Leroi-Gourhan as “the most perfect group of horses in Quaternary art”.

The Ekain Cave

The paintings of Ekain were made in the Upper Palaeolithic (from 40000 to 10000 years ago), particularly in the last period of it, in the Magdalenian period, from 14000 to 13000 years ago. The humans of this era had our own ways, they were homo sapiens, but their way of life was completely different from today, they were hunters and gatherers, and they knew neither agriculture nor livestock. Therefore, their diet was based on what they collected hunting and fishing, or what they could get directly from the land, such as fruits, roots or herbs.

Ekain is located in a spring hunting ground. At that time the climate was much colder than at the present time, it was the period of glaciations, so the temperature was about 10° Celsius below the current temperature, and the Basque mountains taller than 1,500 meters were covered with snow throughout the whole year. In order to protect themselves, humans used caves as shelters.

They used the cave entrance for a living, inhabited the area with most sun and light. The paintings, however, were located inside the cave, which was thought to be more special and sacred. They did not perform their everyday tasks here, they used the inside of the cave for their beliefs and to connect with the spiritual world instead.

A person disguised as a prehistoric human is looking at a cave wall with paintings
Inside Ekain cave. Fundación Ekain Fundazioa

World Heritage Site

The Ekain cave, along with another 16 cave art sites on the Basque coast including Altxerri and Santimamiñe, was declared a World Heritage Site at the UNESCO conference on 7 July 2008. The Basque Government and the governments of Cantabria and Asturias had started the process that led to the declaration two years previously.

World Heritage Site and Ekainberri logos. Fundación Ekain Fundazioa


In 1969, several members of the Antxieta Cultural Association were researching different enclaves of prehistoric activity. Andoni Albizuri and Rafael Rezabal were two of these volunteer researchers who dedicated their free time to archaeology.
They started to look for caves in the area. On June 8th, they began looking for evidence of human occupation in one specific space. Rafael felt a gust of cool air coming from a hole. They removed a few blocks of stone that were in the way and they were able to crawl through a narrow tunnel. When they stood up, the crunching sound under their feet told them they were stepping on untouched ground. Around 60 metres from the entrance, they found themselves facing the Great Panel of Horses, a pictorial group described by French ethnologist, archaeologist and historian André Leroi-Gourhan as “the most perfect group of horses in Quaternary art”.

An old photograph shows two men at the entrance of a cave.
Young Andoni Albizuri and Rafael Rezabal outside Ekain cave. Fundación Ekain Fundazioa

That very day, they reported their finding to the members of the Prehistory section of the Aranzadi Science Society. José Miguel Barandiaran and Jesús Altuna went to what is now called Ekain 1 cave the very next day. On studying the works of cave art on the walls, they established that they were painted 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, at the end of the Upper Palaeolithic – specifically, in the cultural period known as the Upper Magdalenian.
That was the moment when the initiative to protect the Ekain cave and its paintings began. After many complex discussions with different authorities and institutions, Ekain closed in June 1969. This allowed the researchers time to investigate the images and the archaeological findings.
Since the cave’s discovery, numerous documentary records have been written.


Portale kalea 1
20740 Zestoa (Gipuzkoa)

Getting there

Vehicles may not enter Ekainberri. Entry is on foot only.
Please follow the „Parking Ekainberri“ traffic signs on the road to get to the car parked in Zestoa town centre. The walk from the car park to Ekainberri may take 20 minutes, it’s part of the experience, enjoy the scenery! Comfortable shoes are recommended for the walk.
Persons with reduced mobility: please contact Ekainberri when booking. Visitors with reduced mobility who request it are given access by vehicle. Limited parking spaces.

Opening Times and Tickets

Please visit the museum website for more information:


Ekainberri museum is totally accessible for wheelchair users and for prams or baby carriages. The temperature inside the replica is about 18° C (64.4º F) and humidity is 60%.


The Ekainberri team regularly blogs about news from the museum and research.

A person blows red paint through a hollow bone onto the canvas on a wall, partially obscured by a hand.

Ekain Adventure - learning different prehistoric painting techniques

A group of students is practicing spear throwing in front of the museum.

Ekain Adventure - prehistoric survival activity

Exterior view of a grand, two-story stone building.

Lili Palace

A section of the circular path through the replica of the Ekain Cave.

Part of the tour inside the replica

Programmes and Activities

Discover the Basque coastline’s most stunning cave paintings, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, through a journey for all of your senses, to the origins of culture on our planet through this magnificent replica. Get the most out of your visit by experiencing how the people who inhabited this place 14,000 years ago lived, how they hunted and how they made fire.

EKAIN ABENTURA: experimental archaeology workshops
Awaken your senses with our experimental archaeology workshops! Learn the surviving techniques in Prehistory. Make fire, hunt and paint like in Prehistory! Only offered in Basque and Spanish. Duration of the experience: 60 minutes.

EKAIN FAST: visit to the replica
Visit the Basque coast’s most spectacular cave paintings at Ekainberri, feeling what the people who inhabited this place 14,000 years ago must have felt in the cave. Only offered in Basque and Spanish. Audio-guides available in English and French. Duration: 40 minutes.

LILI PALACE: dramatized tour
Don’t miss this exciting experience of getting to know the Gipuzkoa region of four centuries ago! In the play Honour of the Lilies, Our Lady Madalen, the last inhabitant of the Lili family, will take you to 1678 through a dramatized monologue, and you will experience the real characters and the scenes.

PERMANENT EXHIBITION: The rock art exhibition
The exhibition can be visited before or after the guided tour of the replica. Information panels, audio-visuals and objects are displayed at the rock art exhibition in order to complete the visit. It is a fun and very visual way to enforce what is shown inside the cave.

Zestoa & the Region

For information about Zestoa and the region please visit the Tourism Office of Zestoa:

Touristic highlights of the region include:

Algorri (The Interpretation Center of the Flysch): www.algorri.eus
Basque Railway Museum: https://museoa.euskotren.eus/en
Loiola Sanctuary: https://urolaturismoa.eus/en/

Where to stay:

Askizu Hostel: www.albergue-getaria.com
Nekatur (Association of Touristic Farm Houses of The Basque Country): www.nekatur.net

Tourists stand on the edge of a bizarre rock structure overlooking the sea
View of flysch in Algorri, Zumaia
Outside view of Askizu guesthouse, Getaria
Askizu guesthouse, Getaria