Just outside Benaojan lies one of the most spectacular cave systems in Spain, and in the mouth of one, several galleries of cave paintings dating back as much as 30,000 years to paleolithic residents of the Serranía de Ronda, and best of all, the caves are open to the public with a local tour guide to explain the significance of the artwork found.
Tours often kick off early to the chagrin of tourists who have been told to arrive on time, especially since the door to the cave is barred after a tour starts, and visitors should plan to arrive before 10am and 1pm for the 90 minute tour.
Pileta sits at 670m above sea level, and the cave entrance around 40m above the road making it a steep walk from the carpark, but inside the cave guests mostly find the experience quite gentle, in fact even people poor condition are able to enjoy the tour though good rubber soles are recommended.
The cave is owned by a local family, the same family who arrange the tours, and even though the caves are now commercialized one would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time after entering as members in your party are handed paraffin lamps dating back to bandit times.
The caves were rediscovered after hundreds or perhaps thousands of years of being closed off only in 1905 by Jose Bullon Lobato, the man who owned the surrounding land, after he realized that bats in the area were living inside the mountain. Wanting their droppings for fertilizer he was quite surprised to discover pictures on the walls and pottery shards and human bones on the floor of the cave.
Thinking the artifacts were from Moorish times and therefore unremarkable he abandoned his quest until 1911 when a British retired colonel heard of the paintings and decided to take a closer look, and immediately recognized their significance.
Since those times numerous discoveries of animal and human bones dating back more than 30,000 years have been made, and paintings identified that prove the Serranía as being one of the most important crossroads of human migration in Southern Europe.
Paintings to be seen include pictures of cows, birds, deer, dolphins, tortoises, people, fish, and numerous lines that appear to be a form of 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.