Hornos de la Peña, the evening jewel of Cantabrian rock art

The Hornos de la Peña cave is one of those chosen jewels, full of magic, which shows its beauty only to the most daring, which makes things difficult so that, in the end, the enjoyment is even greater. When the visitor sets foot inside, they cannot help but notice a jump in time and feel like an intruder. The morphology of the route contributes greatly. The passage is narrow, the ceilings low, the paintings and engravings difficult to see without the help of an expert. But when the visit ends, there is always the impression of having experienced something exceptional. In the farewell, the gaze turns to travel for the last time through a tunnel in which one expects to see a furtive glance, a skin gathering in the darkness.

The baggage leaves one of the most complete sets of rock engravings in the Cantabrian region on the retina. Bison, aurochs, goats, deer, horses, even a possible reindeer and a serpentine form. But that baggage could not be exempt from something that is not easily forgotten, one of the icons of that cave, an anthropomorphic with a raised arm and a long tail, halfway between the human and the animal, which opens the door to interpretation. and the legend, because very similar shapes have been found in caves thousands of kilometers from Tarriba, in the municipality of San Felices de Buelna.

A key date

On October 27, 1903, Hermilio Alcalde del Río and his two collaborators, Father Lorenzo Sierra and Abbe Breuil, discovered the cavern and glimpsed its beauty and scientific importance. Then, for decades, it went almost unnoticed. Dark times when it was closed tight. Times of oblivion in which the cave matured its resurgence, a century later. On July 7, 2008, at the proposal of the regional government, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, meeting in Quebec (Canada), ratified the inscription of a dozen Cantabrian caves on the egregious list of World Heritage Sites, including , that of Hornos. That did not prevent the fight of the then mayor, José Antonio González Linares, to open it to the public from having to continue. And just a few years ago those efforts were rewarded with success.

Now, another mayor, José Antonio Cobo González, has influenced the general effort of the town of San Felices de Buelna to put the cave where it deserves and has celebrated with his neighbors, in style, the 120th anniversary of the discovery.

Its intention has been as clear as its first measure is striking. To highlight something you have to put it fully into the eyes of as many people as possible. No one traveling along the road that connects the Buelna valley with Puente Viesgo will fail to see the large panel that covers the entire

The anniversary events included a weapons and painting workshop.

The anniversary events included a weapons and painting workshop.

N. C.

The mayor of San Felices, José Antonio Cobo, has stressed the importance of placing the mythical grotto and its cave paintings where they deserve.

south side of the Town Hall, dedicated to the emblematic cave, the work of the experienced ‘Actus Reus’ artists Iván Calvo and Daniel Revenga.

As if that were not enough, the man who for many years was a guide to the main caves of Cantabria, Ludovico Rodríguez Liaño (in love with Hornos de la Peña), has also created a mural dedicated to the 120 years that have passed between the discovery and the present day, a multifaceted man who has used prehistoric techniques in this work. The same one who has edited a collection of poems dedicated to the cave and starred in exhibitions of his pictorial work also linked to cave art.

A bouquet of flowers still bears witness in the entrance hall of the cave to the tribute of an entire town to the person who first valued Hornos de la Peña, a sign of respect for Hermilio Alcalde del Río that was signed by the authorities present at that event. , among others the Minister of the Presidency, Isabel Urrutia.

At the entrance to the cave, tribute was paid to Hermilio Alcalde del Río.

At the entrance to the cave, tribute was paid to Hermilio Alcalde del Río.

There was also the director of the Museum of Prehistory and Archeology of Cantabria, Roberto Ontañón, one of the voices that illustrated the importance of the cave in three conferences that completed the technical coordinator of the cultural itinerary of the Council of Europe ‘Paths of Prehistoric Rock Art’, Ramón Montes, and Olivia Rivero, an expert from the University of Salamanca and responsible for bringing to light some of the unpublished figures of Paleolithic parietal art in the cave, taking advantage of augmented reality techniques. The cave has rewarded her work by showing her team new figures, like a small deer.

To top off this tribute, the City Council offered a workshop on making prehistoric paintings and weapons, led by Saúl Fernández and José Julián Márquez.

Already in solitude, after the strong hangover of the many celebrations, the cave continues its business, receiving its guests four by four (at most), so that current and future guides can continue revealing its secrets, kept by the centuries of centuries.

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