Pileta Paleolithic Cave Paintings at Benaojan

A few kilometres from Ronda, just outside the white village of Benaojan lies one of the most spectacular cave systems in Spain, and in the mouth of one, several galleries of cave paintings that are as old as 30,000 years, and were created by paleolithic people of Ronda before the last great ice age. Best of all, the caves are open to the public with a local tour guide to explain the significance of the artwork.

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The Cave is open all year round but you MUST reserve in advance. Visits are guided in Spanish and English in a group with a maximum of 25 people and the visit lasts for about an hour.

Visiting hours:
Winter:
Weekdays: 11:30 h, 13:00h y 16:30h
Weekend and holidays: 11:00h, 12:00h, 13:00h, 16:00h y 17:00h.

Summer:
Weekdays: 10:30h, 11:30h, 13:00h, 16:30h y 18:00h.
Weekend and holidays: 10:30h,11:30h, 13:00h, 16:00h, 17:00h y 18:00h.

Rates:
Adults: 8 €
Children (5 to 10 years): 5 €
Students (More than 15 people): 5 €

Reservations: Tel: +34 687 13 33 38. Hours: 10:00h to 12:30h and 16:00h to 17:30h (Until 17:00h in winter).

Observations: You have to be at the Cave 15 minutes before your rntry time to checkin otherwise your reservation will be canceled. Note that the path that ascends from the parking to the Cave delays the arrival about 10 min.

If you don’t have reservation you maybe able to join a group if there are places available duer to no shows and cancellations but it is best to reserve your visit to ensure you get in.

Tours often start late while the guide waits for enough people to make the tour worthwhile, but this doesn’t mean visitors should arrive late, especially since the door to the cave is closed after a tour starts. Tours (roughly every hour) start at 10 am and last for about an hour.  Last tour of the morning 1pm and last tour of the evening 5 pm

Pileta is 670m above sea level, and the cave entrance 40m above the road so views of the surrounding land are wonderful though the walk to the cave entrance can be difficult for some people, but inside the cave visitors have no problems, actually even people with poor stamina are able to enjoy the guided tour.

The cave is owned by a local family and they also guide the tours, and even though the caves are now commercialized, you can still believe you’ve stepped into a time machine from the 19th century because members in your group are given paraffin lamps to light the way.

The caves were rediscovered after thousands of years of being closed to the world, by Jose Bullon Lobato in 1905, a local farmer who followed a group of bats because he wanted to collect their droppings to use for fertilizer. The bats seemed to be living inside the mountain, and when he managed to crawl into a small space and explore, he was surprised to discover discover pictures on the walls, pieces of ancient pottery, and human bones on the floor of the cave.

At first he thought the artifacts were from the medieval times, and thinking they weren’t important, he abandoned his search, but in 1911 a retired British colonel heard about the paintings and visited to see for himself. It’s lucky he did, because the significance of the paintings was immediately obvious to him.

Painting at Pileta

Since then, numerous discoveries of animal and human bones dating back more than 30,000 years have been made, and the paintings dated to over 20,000 years old, which proves that Ronda and the mountains have been home to people for a very long time, making the area one of the most important crossroads of human migration in Southern Europe.

Paintings you will see include pictures of cows, birds, deer, dolphins, tortoises, people, fish, and numerous lines that seem to be an ancient calendar. The precise meaning of many of the pictures has yet to be deciphered, but this hasn’t prevented the owners opening the cave to the public so you too can enjoy seeing what our ancestors wrote on cave walls.