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The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca is the finding place of fossils and stone tools of the earliest known hominids in Europe, dating to between 780,000 and 1 million years ago. Several remains of the Homo heidelbergensis were found, the predecessor to the Neanderthal.

The site lies in the Sierra de Atapuerca, an ancient karstic region of Spain containing several caves. They were inhabited also during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Its people left paintings and engravings in the cave walls.

The sites in this area were found during the construction of a railway. Scientific exploration started in 1964.

Visit August 2009

Atapuerca is quite a hard site to grasp, as most early hominid WHS are. The remains were found in caves in the Sierra de Atapuerca, an ancient karst landscape. There's not much to see of that nowadays: the surroundings can be described as 'hilly' at the most. It is mainly flat and dry Spanish land. Lots of Santiago de Compostela-pilgrims on the road by the way!

Unfortunately I didn't have much time to spend in the area, so I opted for a guided tour through the archeological park. It's only a small area, and the tour is filled with (long!) explanations. The ranger shows how early man made tools from stone, and how to make fire.

If you've got a day to spare, there are several guided tours on offer from both the towns of Atapuerca and Ibeas de Juarros. They include 2-hour trips to the caves in Yacimiento. I would try to pre-book here. Despite the 'difficult' theme, it's quite a popular site. There's also a museum and a visitor center (and a café / restaurant or two).


J M de Domingo (England):
Very disappointing, as the teams were working and we had to climb up and around the edge of the site so we saw almost nothing. The guide stopped 3 or 4 times and spoke for 15 to 20 minutes (we could understand as we speak Spanish but there was no consideration for non-Spanish speakers) Leaflets in other languages would be useful, but it's pointless when work is going on, wait till a period when you can get to see things
Date posted: July 2013
John Booth (New Zealand):
My visit to Atapuerca was only to the Yacimentos (excavations) and not to the archaeological park. The visit involved taking a bus to the village of Ibeas de Juarro (on the Burgos to Logrono route), where there is a visitors centre and small museum about Atapuerca. From Ibeas it is a 3km hike to the entrance of the railway cutting where the excavations start, and from there, there is a track which follows the top of the cutting. These excavations are still ongoing and a fenced off for security, but I got a birds eye view of the Suiva del Elefanta, the Galeria and the Gran Dolina.
Date posted: April 2010
We could visit the archaeological park on a selfguided tour only without access to the actual excarvations. History is reconstructed by replicas of huts and fences demonstrating how our ancestors may have lived and hunted here until a few thounds years ago. I strongly recommend to arrange for a guided tour as it would give you a much better value add.

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Site info

The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
Country: Spain
Inscribed: 2000
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (3) (5)
Category: Geological formation, Paleontology

Site history:
2000 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Visitas Atapuerca

In the news:
» Between 7,200 and 3,100 years ago humans from Atapuerca ate domestic dog, wild cat, fox and badger (22-01-2015).
» Fossil Human Skulls Unearthed in Atapuerca Shed Light on Neandertal Evolution (20-06-2014).
» Dating is refined for the Atapuerca site (09-02-2014).
» Oldest Known Early Human DNA Recovered at Atapuerca (06-12-2013).
» Archaeologists find 1.4-million-year-old flint in the caves of Atapuerca (28-07-2013).
» Archaeologists working at the Atapuerca dig in the Sierras east of Burgos have unearthed fragments of another skull. (30-07-2007).

Related links:
» Fossil Find From Atapuerca Is Oldest European Yet At 1.2mya .
» Good trip report, reaching Atapuerca by public transport.

Related Forum posts:
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Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Pictographs .
Fossils .
Bronze Age . Early Hominid Remains . Neolithic age .
Human Activity
Cannibalism . Rock Cut Art .
Early Pleistocene .
WHS Hotspots
Bilbao hotspot .

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