Archaeology/Arts and crafts/Science and technology |
64640  Saint-Martin-D 'Arbéroue/Donamartiri

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Vintage plate 2018

Yesterday's cave : Two caves in one place, that is two major periods of humanity: prehistoric and mineral formation underground, one heritage: the Gaztelu hill: The 20th century was not yet begun when the peasant, who is extracting phosphate from the limestone hill suddenly meets with a wide open mouth: he moves closer to understand, moves forward and sees unknown objects on the ground: stones with enigmatic, strange shapes, bones, many bones and he confides... An then begins an exciting adventure for archaeologists who get very interested! Quickly you will understand you are in the presence of a prehistoric site of at least 80,000 years, excavations and researches with the participation of the most eminent archaeologists: Passemard, Saint Perrier, Laplace, Barandarian, Larribau... brought out 70,000 objects, listed in the inventory of historical monuments (reference objects are classified in the collections of the Museum of National Antiquities in Saint-Germain-en-Laye).

Today's cave:  Finally, after a century of findings, there is still an unexplored extraordinary heritage, hence the need to improve the presentation of this heritage to the public. Current researches are based on Rock Art, which is a 5-year programmation. We will also note the release of the disc "Aspaldian", a musical creation of F. Rossé in the caves, bringing to mind the archaeological excavations that have succeeded on the site since the beginning of the 20th century, revealing the highest concentration of Palaeolithic flutes known today and to celebrate these men from Isturitz who are among the top musicians of humanity. A total of 22 fragments of flutes dating from the Aurignacian to the Magdalenian era were found in the great Isturitz hall, flutes made from the bones of raptor, lammergeyer and vultures, protected birds which are still present in the Pyrenees and Basque Country. And every year, large demonstrations and animations as last year, in 2013, the staging of 100 years caves, with a first part dedicated to the history of prehistory, and the "objects" of the research around Isturitz collections, finally, that of prehistoric man and his environment and the transmission of knowledge with a round table on mediation business, and new approaches to cultural heritage development. 2014 will be rich too...


2015,  always with more dynamism... 

2014 was rich but 2015 will not depart from this rule... Research is always going on and enjoys the introduction of new technologies, allowing a second finer reading of the former, promising discoveries of notable screenings for research. It is proven that the Gaztelu hill is for science a real treasure. In another register, caves continue to inspire the artists, bringing another view of the site: JL Hargous with a musical and in 2014, Pierre Esteve with "Résonances" of fact, which a sensory setting, which allows every visitor to create his or her own mental images, a journey back in time... in the centre of the earth.

Also note the Educational Workshops on many themes including: the Conference Workshops, the Prehistory and Art ( 2 hours – Every Sunday from 11:00 to 13:00 – adults/recommended reservation), Business and artistic activity between 40,000 to 10,000 years, engraved and carved Cave Paintings,  archeological site.

– Geology (2 hours – Friday from 17:00 to 19:00 / on reservation) at hill of Gaztelu, a model of karstic network. Limestone formation of caves and concretions.

Without forgetting the creation of a Cultural Space of Arts and Sciences with the arrival of the Association "Isturitz and Oxocelhaya, Heritages, culture and prehistory". The family saga, now managed by Joelle Darricau has good days ahead...

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Opening time and information on LES GROTTES D'ISTURITZ ET D'OXOCELHAYA

Quality Tourism. Listed as a Historic Monument. European Cultural Routes: CARP. Sites & Museums Network in the Basque Country. Open from March 15 to November 15 every day. March, April, May, October, November: from 2pm to 5pm*. School holidays and public holidays: additional visit at 11am. June and September: visits at 10.30 and 11.30 am and 2 to 5 pm*. July and August: 10am to 6pm* - (* last visit). Adult: 11.50 € (students and jobseekers: 9 €. Teenagers (12 to 17 years old): 8 €. Child (4 to 11 years old) : 4,80 €). Group: €8.50 (children: €3.80 and teenagers: €4.50). Family ticket: 34 € (parents + 3 children up to 14 years old). Special prehistory or geology tours (2h): 15 €, guided tours for the general public (1h). Vacation check. Places limited to 25 people. Catering (snack of the Terroir in July-August). Nature and Prehistory shop. Online ticket sales.

Services :



In the Basque region- Euskal Lur - To Visit in the Arberoue's protected valley!
Listed as an Historical Monument – Two stars in the Michelin Green Guide
10 km from Hasparren – 30 minutes from Biarritz and Saint Jean Pied de Port -1h from the Spanish border and Pau – 2h1/2 from Toulouse
Entrance fees 2015:
Individuals - Adult 10 € - Child (7-14) 3,90 € - Family (2 adults/3 children) 29 €
Groups (mini. 20 pax – maxi. 50 pax) - Adult 8 € - Teenagers (15-18) 3,90 € - Child (7-14) 3,80 €
Special visit “prehistory and geology” (maxi. 20 pax) 13,50 € - Bank cards, visa, vouchers accepted
Opening times from 15 March to 15 November every day:
- March, April, may, October, November: Guided tours from 2 pm to 5 pm
When schools and public’s holidays: visit also at 11 am
- June & September guided tours at 11 and 12 am and from 2 to 5 pm
- July & august open from 10 am to 6 pm: departure every 20 minutes
- Special visit “prehistory and geology” (in French) every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm
Open all year for groups upon reservation:
- 1 h guided tours in French, English, Spanish and Basque
- Year-round temperature is 14 ° C
On site: Museum area - free entrance - Shop « Prehistory et Nature » (books, minerals, documents) – Cafeteria - Typical Fast Food with local products opened in July & August.
Panoramic view of the Arberoue valley, listed area
No dogs allowed in caves - Photographs not allowed inside the caves
Reservations and inquiries:
Grottes d’Isturitz et Oxocelhaya
64640 Saint Martin d’Arberoue - Donamartiri
Phone: 33 (0) 559 29 64 72 Fax: 33 (0) 559 47 30 17
E-mail: [email protected] - Website: www.grottes-isturitz.com
Espace Culturel: www.grottes-isturitz.com - Comments: Important archeological site: one of the largest Paleolithic sanctuaries in the south of Europe – 80 000 to 10 000 years B.C. Circuit « Inland Basque country discovery day » starting at the caves upon request.
In such places, rich in geological and prehistoric features, you can sense the presence of the original spirit of Man.




General note: 5/5
Value for money
4 reviews of Internet users
Value for money
Visited in august 2017
La visite qui est obligatoirement guidée est très intéressante. On passe dans les deux grottes avec des explications sur la préhistoire, puis sur la géologie. La deuxième est impressionnante de beauté, à ne pas manquer !
Notice filed on 09/09/2017 
Value for money
Visited in september 2016
Exceptionnel par sa dimension et sa structure. L'on revisite une grande partie de la préhistoire. Prévoir un vêtement chaud si visite en vacancier d'été.
Notice filed on 10/31/2016 
Value for money
Magnifique grotte constituée de plusieurs pièces ou règnent stalagmites et stalactites en calcaire. A l'époque habitée par les hommes préhistoriques, l'histoire remonte à la surfac grace aux explications du guide. Visite guidée de 1h environ.
Notice filed on 08/30/2015 
La visite des grottes se fait en présence d'un guide qui sait vous transmettre, dès les premières minutes, sa passion de la Préhistoire et de la géologie. Vous serez captivés par l'histoire de ce site classé monument historique dans lequel tous les ans, à la même période, des étudiants continuent d'y faire des fouilles archéologiques sur une durée d'un mois. A la fin de la visite, vous est proposé un atelier où toutes nos questions sont la bienvenue et où l'occasion de toucher des objets trouvés sur place et datant de milliers d'années vous est offerte...
Notice filed on 09/08/2009 

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