Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin
The Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula is a distinct rock art tradition consisting of 727 prehistoric sites in eastern Spain. They are located exposed in the open air. The first paintings were discovered in Teruel in 1903. They were made during the period 8000 - 3500 B.C.
These rock art sites form an exceptionally large group, the figures are relatively small in size and depict scenes from the transition stage from huntergatherer to a sedentary farmer. The subjects include hunting scenes, funerary rites, mythology, female figures and details of clothing and personal ornaments like hairstyles and bracelets.
Visit November 2011
Out of the 727 nominated locations, I visited 4 or 5 panels in the Sierra de Albarracín. I say “4 or 5”, as I couldn’t identify the 5th on the long list of sites. But they are all in the same area, in a protected zone called Pinar del Rodeno. This is a popular hiking and climbing destination for Spanish tourists.
I started at the “Abrigo de la fuente del Cabrerizo”. This one is located about 4km south of the town of Albarracín. There’s a sign from the road and a small parking lot. You then have to hike downhill for about 20 minutes. First you pass a good viewpoint with views on the red rocks and the maritime pines that are characteristic of this landscape. Then the path worsens, gets muddy and narrow. I wondered how many people go out all the way to see the rock paintings here. Fortunately there are red arrows that show the way so you will not get lost. The paintings are protected by a red fence, and there is an informationpanel (in Spanish) about what you see. If you are able to see them at all, as they have no colour and are merely the outlines of animals. Pretty disappointing, but I had my daily exercise in getting there and would get some more climbing back up the steep hill for 20 minutes.
The other 4 panels are near the more busy Prado del Navazo recreation area. It is the starting point of several hiking trails and a place where rock climbers gather. You’ll recognize these individuals as they are carrying what looks like mattresses on their backs (the “crash pads”). There is a hiking trail, Sendero 2, that will lead you along several rock paintings. However I opted to visit the ones quite close to the entrance. This also involves some hiking, but on a more pleasant and flat path than I experienced earlier in the day. To get in front of the rock paintings, you will have to scramble up the rocky slope for a few minutes.
Two out of the four panels here were very difficult to see also, and not really of interest. The other two at last gave me a feel for Mediterranean Rock Art. The first was the Abrigo de los Toros. This is a rather large panel, over 4 meters wide, showing 19 painted objects. Their colour is white, and mostly the group of bovines stand out. This is Spain, so no wonder the Toros are the main elements! The other panel is the Abrigo del Tio Campano. This one was only rediscovered in 1981. It has a triangular shape, and shows red painted animals.
As a general conclusion I would say that I wasn't really taken by these expressions of rock art: there are much better examples around the world. I found them quite primitive, both in style and in subject (the common hunting themes). However, this region warrants a visit for its fine natural surroundings and the pretty Moorish town of Albarracín.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
As noted, there are over 700 sites all over the Mediterranean area which are included in this list. Unfortunately the ancient people who made them were in much better shape than most of us today, so they are not very easy to reach! Also many of the sites are frankly a bit boring unless you have a special interest in rock art, like me, because the images are very difficult to see or there are not many of them to begin with.
Some sites in Murcia have recently been developed for better tourist access. Some examples are La Serreta and Los Grajos near Cieza (contact the museum in Cieza for a guide), and Cantos de la Visera near Yecla (contact the museum in Yecla). Others I have been to that have some tourist access and interpretive signs include Pla de Petracos and La Sarga, near Alcoi in Alicante (check with the museum for directions, they may also be able to send someone with you).
Probably the best place I know of to see some examples of this rock art is at the sites in the Valltorta area of Castellón. There is a fairly large rock art museum near Tirig, which has reproductions of some of the more interesting sites, and they arrange tours with a guide who will take you to the sites and show you the rock art. The sites are again not accessible if you have major mobility issues but the hike to most of them is fairly moderate, and the sites themselves have platforms built around them so you don't have to cling to the side of the cliff to see the art!
Most of the sites are not easy to access, especially if you have mobility problems. Cantos de la Visera might be manageable for some, because the shelters are not in the mountains. However you have to walk up the road to the site from the parking area, which is a moderate walk but I don't think it would be wheelchair accessible.
| Date posted: February 2011|
|David Berlanda (Italy / Czech Republic):|
It was very hard to find on the Internet for our trip around Spain a rock art site of those being part of this WHS satisfying the criteria I had in my mind for choosing one of them: proximity to our Spanish itinerary, good accessibility without too much walking - they are often situated at high altitudes far away from main roads - … possibly a cave with a guided tour - but I didn’t find one available without booking and there is also the fact that this sites are mainly shelters.
Finally I chose the site of Cabra Feixet in Catalonia near El Perolló putting my trust in this two Spanish web pages: http://www.xtec.es/centres/e3001929/cabra/cabra2.htm and http://www.arqueomurcia.com/arterupestre/catalu/feixet.htm. From this descriptions with map it seemed to me that it was easily accessible, but I was wrong.
You have to take the road going from El Perolló to Rasquera and after 7 km you will find without problems on your left a sign telling you that the rock art site is 3,5 km from there (we didn’t notice that there was also written with pencil in French that it is quite impossible to reach it by car – maybe a desperate tourist had left it).
So we ventured with our car to a road that after 1 km turned out to be unsurfaced, extremely narrow and endless. We couldn’t turn back the car and go away and, risking to have an accident, had to arrive to the parking (it seemed incredible that this road, that ended there, had been designed expressly for reaching the rock art site). Here some unclear signs bring you, in much more than the 10 and 25 minutes written there, to the highly disappointing site of Cabra Feixet, a small prehistoric shelter protected by a cage, where might be 13 red painted figures, but only 3 are clearly visible - a hunter and two animals - and to some shelters without paintings not being part of the WHS.
Certainly the landscape in which it is situated, with spectacular rocks and a luxuriant vegetation, is more interesting than the rock art site itself.
Now, an advice: don’t go there, above all not with a common car. It is one of the most disappointing WHS I have ever seen. Maybe I have just chosen the wrong site and probably there are much better places included in this WHS (there are also municipalities with more than 50 rock art sites while Cabra Feixet is the only one in El Perolló). Certainly Cabra Feixet doesn’t deserve its inscription. However I have seen only this site, so I can’t say if the overall site deserves it. But I’m sure that there will be also other sites like this, so the inscription of 727 places on the WHL, even if they constitute the largest group of rock art sites in Europe, is excessive and could be inscribed only the most representative sites that probably deserve their place on the WHL. This sites are generally in the middle of nowhere so their conservation and authenticity is certainly perfect.
The most similar WHS to this that I have ever visited is that of the prehistoric sites of the Vézčre Valley in France, where the paintings are quite similar to those of Cabra Feixet, in a much bigger extension, much more worthy of being visited and certainly deserving their place on the List.
In the picture are the three red figures of the shelter Cabra Feixet: a hunter and two animals.
I visited to Cuevas de la Ananas,which is located in the clad-forest valley,over three mountains and four villages. Those rock-paintings are of cultural importance to be suggested the style of the human life there. All rock-paintings are prohibited to be entered in where those were described;rock shelters,walls,and so on.But I asked the authority,in this case the city hall,to inroduce the shelters. Nowadays there are nearly 5000 visitors to the rock art and whose villas are interspersed in the basin,I heared. These are worth visiting because of the concentration and the diversity of prehistoric rock art,if you are interested in the art,and world heritage collector
| Date posted: March 2006|
|Paco Lorente (Spain):|
Yes, indeed this inscription is strange, but there is at least one place where you can enjoy visiting several mural paintings at once: Sierra de Albarracin (Teruel) inside "Paisaje protegido de los pinares de rodeno" park.
This place is located near Albarracín one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
A panorama of a painting in http://www.albarracin.org/rutasierra/PinturasG.htm
All information in www.albarracin.org and www.sierradealbarracin.org
| Date posted: March 2006|
|Ian Cade (England):|
Having just looked at the inscription in more detail I have discovered that it is made up of a whopping 727 seperate sites!!.
This is one of the strangest inscriptions there is on the WH List, I am sure they are very justified but there are 727 of them!! They are scatered from Barcelona down to Gibraltar.
I am pretty sure I have visited at least one of these sites in the many times I have visited Spain, but I am not willing to count it as a site that I have visited properly.
I have a feeling I have visited some of the sites in the María and Alicante area when I was much younger, so I am adding this to the group of sites that I have not really visited but have seen, (this list is getting frustratingly long!!) oh well!
| Date posted: July 2005|
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