The Bats Cave, the place that changed the Andalusian Neolithic era

Hidden in the heart of the Sierras Subbéticas Geopark in the province of Córdoba rests the Bats Cave. This place, apart from being considered a unique natural space for its incredible geological structures, has become one of the most important archaeological sites in Andalusia.

With more than 3,300 metres explored, the Bats Cave has been catalogued as one of the largest caves in the whole peninsula. Since its discovery in the 19th century, it has attracted the attention of thousands of curious people and scientists who have wanted to delve into its depths to discover and investigate a piece of history up close.

It was during the 20th century when this site became most important due to the frenetic activity of all the archaeologists. Without being able to foresee it, the appearance of a skeleton in the deepest parts of the cave revealed a historical revelation that has changed the basis of the Andalusian Palaeolithic.

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, this important cave has become one of the most important tourist attractions in the natural landscape of Córdoba. Today, it is safe to visit to discover not only the archaeological site and the multitude of species of bats that give it its name, but also the impressive geological formations that have been built spontaneously over the centuries. They have created all kinds of shapes and nooks and crannies that are well worth enjoying.

History of the Bats Cave

Bats Cave in Zuheros

Bats Cave in Zuheros. | Shutterstock

Although it was during the Civil War, in 1938, when the first exploration of the Bats Cave is recorded, it was already in 1868 when the archaeologist Manuel de Góngora y Martínez recorded the first writings about the existence of this cave.

However, it was during this first exploration at the beginning of the 20th century that the three officers made one of the greatest discoveries about this important cave. They found the remains of a skeleton in the deepest part of the cave to date. Not only that, but also the archaeological remains that came to shed light on nothing less than the Andalusian Palaeolithic.

Until that time, an approximate date had been estimated as to when prehistory would have taken place in the southern territories. Thanks to the investigation and analysis of the corpse, and the different tools, ornamentation and carbonised remains of food, it was determined that the calculations were erroneous. Actually, the Andalusian Palaeolithic period had elapsed a millennium earlier than expected.

The Bats Cave turned the history of Andalusia on its head

Bats Cave

Formations in the Bats Cave. | Shutterstock.

The discovery and exploration of the Bats Cave shed light on the first men who populated the territory. It left traces of their customs and their tools. It is estimated that the Neanderthals would have made use of it and, later and for some time, our ancestors, the Homo Sappiens, also passed through it. This last discovery was very important in providing information about a historical gap.

The ancient inhabitants of this cave not only left a large trail of tools and a legacy of early artistic manifestations, such as engravings on the walls with animal and hunting motifs. The distribution of the different spaces has also been discovered. They had an area for rituals as a sanctuary, another room as a vestibule, where sunlight was received, and a deep area where burials were carried out.

The Romans also made use of it much later, during the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. Vessels and instruments from that period have been preserved and it is even suspected that it was used as a shelter. Since then, however, the Bats Cave has been forgotten, lost among the heights of the Sierras Subbéticas. It has only been since the 20th century that its secrets have been adapted and exposed. Thus it has become a great geological and archaeological attraction for all lovers of nature and the past.

A visit to the Bats Cave and its surroundings

Bats Cave

Visitors to the Bats Cave. | Shutterstock

The Bats Cave has become one of the major natural attractions of Córdoba. Located four kilometres from Zuheros, in the south of the region, this cave has had to be adapted and made easier to be visited by the curious. It has a small entrance and a secluded location. Its name, as can be understood, is related to the great variety of bats that reside in its interior. For example, the big horseshoe bat, the little horseshoe bat, the split-eared bat or the big buzzard bat. Its large size and depth make it the ideal place for these nocturnal animals.

Moreover, this cave is not only a fascinating historical and archaeological site. It was also considered in 2001 as a Natural Monument by the Junta de Andalusia, due to the enormous geological value it contains. Furthermore, in 1985, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. Inside, all kinds of formations can be found. One of the most outstanding is a four-metre high stalagmite that depends on a stalactite with a drop of only 10 centimetres.

Visiting this cave is a real experience for our senses and for learning about our most ancient history. With more than 3,000 metres uncovered and with the prediction of continuing to expand this number, the cave has all the accesses and safeguards for any tourist with an adventurous heart to enter and experience this little piece of natural and anthropological legacy.

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