Where You Can See Ancient Cave Paintings Today

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at www.caves.org or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Cavemen created the world’s first enduring art tens of thousands of years ago. They are the original artists who used simple tools to draw lines, depict battle scenes, and make monstrous shamanic figures. These artworks are the bridges between the past and present and help us to rethink the origin of humanity. To see some of these cave paintings today is absolutely breathtaking, and fortunately, there are hundreds of places to see them all around the world.

Besides Antarctica, every continent features caves with real caveman art. So wherever you are in the world, you can go back in time by exploring the different caves and artworks. They depict the images of the people who once lived there and reveal to us their cultural values, beliefs, and lifestyle.

Here is our list of the top locations where you can see cave paintings today.

1 – Altamira

8 photos of various cave paintings that you can see at an Altamira cave.

Altamira is one of the world’s most important locations for cave art explorers. People, professional cavers, and historians from all walks of life visit the Altamira cave for exploring prehistoric parietal cave art. It features charcoal drawings, polychrome paints, and more. It has some other contemporary type of art too, which is 22,000 years old. Depictions include hands, local fauna, horses, and signs whose meanings are unknown.

This art site was first discovered in 1879 by an amateur archaeologist, Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola. The subjects in this cave are mostly animals, you can separate this site art type into three categories – black drawings, colored paintings, and rock engravings.

2 – Kakadu National Park

One of the most iconic cave paintings is shown here, at Kakadu National Park.

The art of the Kakadu National Park reveals the record of Aboriginal life. It is Australia’s largest terrestrial national park, with terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers, and sandstone escarpments. In the Kakadu National Park, some paintings are almost 20,000 years old. They show the personal relationship of cavemen with their land and spiritual heritage.

When we explore the history of the people who made the Kakadu National Park art, we come to know that they were quite smart. They knew how to crush pigment stones and make a paste for no reason other than to create art. They even made brushes with hair, feathers, and chewed sticks.

3 – The Drakensberg

Drakensberg features more than 22000 ancient cave paintings for visitors to explore.

People know the Drakensberg because of its few famous peaks and small foothills, but they don’t know it has some mysterious caves also. They are the witness of the existence of those who once called these mountains their homes. The art you find in the Drakensberg is as old as the Stone Age.

The biggest feature that makes this place unique is it has more than 22,000 individual paintings. Therefore, if you are a caver or love cave art, you have a lot to explore. Most of the paintings are images of animals, humans, etc. Another interesting thing to note is that several paintings have several layers of paintings superimposed on each other. You’ll agree when you see them that the quality here is remarkable.

4 – Magura Cave

The Magura cave features art that is over 8000 years old, representing events taking place at that time.

The art in the Magura cave is 8,000-10,000 years old. Unlike most other cave art, it represents the most important events of the society of that time. We see the depiction of deities, religious ceremonies, hunting scenes, etc. For that reason, this place is also recognized as a natural landmark by Decree 666. The Magura cave not only attract cave art lovers, but it also attracts scientists as it has the richest collection of geological formation. You find different types of minerals and stones of all shapes and sizes, like stalactites, pearls, and stalagmites.

5 – Serra da Capivara

At Serra da Capivara National Park, artwork has been estimated to be up to 100,000 years old.

The Serra da Capivara National Park is one of those locations that preserve many archaeological sites. In its rock shelters, you can see the existence of some of the world’s most intriguing ancient rock art. It is almost 25,000 years old and shows the history of one of the oldest populations of South America. Surprisingly, this site was discovered in the 20th century by Niede Guidon, a Brazilian archaeologist.

However, her perception of the Serra da Capivara art is very unique. She believes this art shows that the humans from Africa reached this plateau around 100,000 years ago. Some historians believe the same, but add that there is a high possibility people who lived in these lands were the descendants of the first Siberian wave of migrants, not Africans. Either way, if you want to see some of the oldest cave paintings ever discovered, this is the place.

6 – Tadrart Acacus

Tadrart Acacus, in Western Libya, is the site for thousands of ancient cave paintings from hunter-gatherers 14,000 years ago.

The Tadrart Acacus is a world heritage site in Western Libya. It has been inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1985. You will find thousands of ancient cave paintings in it which have survived for 14,000 years. The Tadrart Acacus has many landscapes, and features rocks, deep ravines, and wells.

Unlike most other cave/rock art, you see an open gallery here that tells you the story of the changing fortunes and informs you about the tale of people who lived here. It shows that people at that time were hunter-gatherers, and animals play an important role in their lives. There are human handling spears and drawings of animals too like giraffe and elephant.

7 – Coso Rock Art District

Coso Rock Art District is the 7th on our list, featuring cave paintings from just 1000 to 3000 years ago, numbering over 35,000 distinct petroglyphs and carvings.

This place has 100,000 Petroglyphs by Paleo-Indians. To get here, you will have to go to California near the towns of China Lake and Ridgecrest. Some districts in the Coso range forbid visitors, but the important sites for viewing art remain open. In this place, the prominent image you see is the hunters with bows and arrows.

There are many other drawings and rock art as well. In fact, in a 90 square-mile area, 35,000 rock art petroglyphs and carvings are found, which appear to be 1000-3000 years old. Experts believe the rock art you see in this region is one of the oldest and most plentiful records of Native Americans.

This place was inhabited by the indigenous people nearly 13,500 years ago, and it is packed with a lot of great drawings, symbols, and shapes. The prehistoric Coso people even used those painting for shamanic purposes, believing they aided with supernatural powers and controlling the weather.


All these places are hot spots for cave lovers, historians, and photographers. If you are interested in exploring lost civilizations through rock art, visit any one or all on our list. We promise you will experience something completely different and get a glimpse into the past. Most people who see ancient cave paintings for the first time never forget the experience, so please tell us about your trip when you get your chance!

To learn more about cave paintings and how they were made, read more here.

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