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Atapuerca excavation: visitor info?

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Does anyone know what the situation is for visiting the site of the Atapuerca excavation? I’ve been to the museum website and emailed them but haven’t yet had a response. We’d like to walk through the narrow canyon area and see the site, if not the dig itself. It’ll be early next June before we’re there.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I visited the excavation site in 2016. As I recall, another pilgrim learned from the hospitalero at the albergue where and when to get the bus to take us to the site.
We first got on a bus that took us to the visitors center, then another bus took us to the dig site.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Thank you. That website and the museum are the ones that I’ve emailed to ask for information about booking in advance and whether the site is open but I haven’t yet had a response. I’ve spoken with a couple of people who said it may not be possible to access the site and that tours are only on certain days, and I thought that maybe people here would have experienced this if it were the case.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
@Lhollo I appreciate your enthusiasm. I have always been excited by the evidence of inter-human co-operation and co-ordination dating back nearly 1,000,000 years and therefore pre-dating "us" by a long chunk. The tours of Atapuerca are co-ordinated by the Museum. The Museum is shut due to the current virus outbreak. The dig is shut because the various contributing volunteers who conduct the excavations are locked-down, embargoed or banned from travel and are likely un-insurable.

Hiking through the arroyo has not been permitted for many years, even to the local Quail hunters - much to their irritation.

The Museum, by the time you get there, may be open. In which case plan a day to really enjoy and absorb what the past can teach us.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
@Lhollo I appreciate your enthusiasm. I have always been excited by the evidence of inter-human co-operation and co-ordination dating back nearly 1,000,000 years and therefore pre-dating "us" by a long chunk. The tours of Atapuerca are co-ordinated by the Museum. The Museum is shut due to the current virus outbreak. The dig is shut because the various contributing volunteers who conduct the excavations are locked-down, embargoed or banned from travel and are likely un-insurable.

Hiking through the arroyo has not been permitted for many years, even to the local Quail hunters - much to their irritation.

The Museum, by the time you get there, may be open. In which case plan a day to really enjoy and absorb what the past can teach us.
Thank you so much for this! I did wonder whether something like this was the case with the museum, and it’s completely understandable. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things are better for them by next June but of course seeing Atapuerca is only something that would be nice, and not exactly crucial. I’ve read excellent things about the museum, and of course I know that Burgos itself is well worth exploring for a day, so we’ll plan to make the best of the day no matter what. Thanks again for your really helpful information and suggestions. 🙏
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
When I walked in 2016 I was told that the Atapuerca site was not nearly as informative as the museum. So I did not stop there. I did spend several hours in the Burgos museum -- one of the highlights of my pilgrimage. I still think a lot about all that I learned there. But then, I'm an anthropologist at heart (though not in real life).
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
When I walked in 2016 I was told that the Atapuerca site was not nearly as informative as the museum. So I did not stop there. I did spend several hours in the Burgos museum -- one of the highlights of my pilgrimage. I still think a lot about all that I learned there. But then, I'm an anthropologist at heart (though not in real life).
Yes, I’ve read here that the museum exhibition is one of the best ever! I’d be very interested but in particular it’s the landscape that I hope to see, as in this photo. BE2E8FC1-3983-4004-97CB-F6415FA80DD8.jpeg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
You should anticipate something more closely resembling dezeen_Centro-de-Recepción-de-Visitantes-by-a3gm-+-Mata-y-asociados_1.jpg

Ach. Thats not entirely fair. Bad Tinker. But, in my opinion you will learn more and gain more from a day in the Museo Evolucion Humana than you will from a mis-guided tour of some mock-ups and a distant view of some fenced off bits. That said, the entirety of the landscape of the Montes de Oca and the location of the site tell stories of their own.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
You should anticipate something more closely resembling View attachment 79496

Ach. Thats not entirely fair. Bad Tinker. But, in my opinion you will learn more and gain more from a day in the Museo Evolucion Humana than you will from a mis-guided tour of some mock-ups and a distant view of some fenced off bits. That said, the entirety of the landscape of the Montes de Oca and the location of the site tell stories of their own.
I see! What a shame, though. I saw the below wiki page and presumed that if people can do a half marathon through that canyon and past the archaeological site then maybe it’s also possible to walk there, but I suppose they must make special allowances for the event. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_de_Atapuerca
 
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Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
An update to say that I’ve had a helpful email response from the museum. They’ve said that they work out their yearly schedules each December and usually announce them around then, so around that time, or into the new year, they should be able to help more with bookings for 2021 tours. I thought I’d mention it in case anyone else is interested.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
When I was passing through Burgos in 2016 I visited the museum of human evolution. I had wanted to visit the site of the excavations and had gone to the building at their excavation site. There was no public program there that day. I was later told that access to the site was by bus out from Burgos, which seemed ridiculous to me, as a walking pilgrim who had been at the front door of their archaeological location. Anyway, I went to the museum. I was surprised to be told that I, as a senior, did not have to pay the admission fee. I wandered about in the museum, trying to turn my brain on and develop some sort of interest. Finally, I gave up. I guess I was just too weary from walking. In reflection, I favour museum displays which show something of the daily life of the human or protohuman figures, rather than the skull of an early human which was a prize display in a glass case. I was actually more drawn into the possible daily life of the humans who had lived in a deep underground cave dwelling on the Aragones, although the location was not open to visit when I went through. There was a very cold wind blowing up from the entrance to the cave below. I thought about the daily lives of ancient peoples who lived deep in a cold dark hole in the ground, presumably for safety from outside threats (other humans?).
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I visited the yacimiento and the Centro de Arquelogia experimental (Carex) last year.
The visit to the yacimiento was worth it for me but I don't know if visits in English are possible.
The Carex is also worth it. It is near Atapuerca village. There are buses.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I had wanted to visit the site of the excavations and had gone to the building at their excavation site. There was no public program there that day. I was later told that access to the site was by bus out from Burgos,
In September 2016 I took the bus from Atapuerca to the visitor center, then another bus to the excavation site.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Agree. Just don’t be there on a Monday 😉
We arrived there on a Wednesday from Ages and decided to have a rest day on Thursday rather than walk in the downpour that was forecast. Knew nothing about the museum, just came upon it and it was such a surprise, we just about had the place to ourselves. My friend is a scientist (microbiologist) with a particular interest in genetics, so for her it was a wonderful afternoon.
We literally spent all afternoon there, one of those amazing unplanned events that stays in your mind. It is very large, no expense spared. Our Camino family thought we were crazy to go to a museum -when we met up later they told us they had spent the afternoon snoozing.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
I visited the museum back in 2015. As I was on my bike it was no real trouble to leave the camino and ride the 1500 metres to the museum. My only problem was that my Spanish guide book could not translate most of the information signs. Still it was a very good display - oh at that time entry was "free" and there were some very clean toilets also free. Thanks to those (Tinka etc) who have provided the extra info. If you are interested in archaeology, plan to stay over night at Ages or Atapuerca. As I often say - there is a lot of history, ancient and really ancient history along the Camino Frances.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
When I was passing through Burgos in 2016 I visited the museum of human evolution. I had wanted to visit the site of the excavations and had gone to the building at their excavation site. There was no public program there that day. I was later told that access to the site was by bus out from Burgos, which seemed ridiculous to me, as a walking pilgrim who had been at the front door of their archaeological location. Anyway, I went to the museum. I was surprised to be told that I, as a senior, did not have to pay the admission fee. I wandered about in the museum, trying to turn my brain on and develop some sort of interest. Finally, I gave up. I guess I was just too weary from walking. In reflection, I favour museum displays which show something of the daily life of the human or protohuman figures, rather than the skull of an early human which was a prize display in a glass case. I was actually more drawn into the possible daily life of the humans who had lived in a deep underground cave dwelling on the Aragones, although the location was not open to visit when I went through. There was a very cold wind blowing up from the entrance to the cave below. I thought about the daily lives of ancient peoples who lived deep in a cold dark hole in the ground, presumably for safety from outside threats (other humans?).
I think I might do what you did! I know the museum is one of the best but I can’t imagine that I’ll want to spend my last day in Spain indoors. Wandering around near ancient caves, however, is very appealing!
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I visited the yacimiento and the Centro de Arquelogia experimental (Carex) last year.
The visit to the yacimiento was worth it for me but I don't know if visits in English are possible.
The Carex is also worth it. It is near Atapuerca village. There are buses.
This sounds like what I have in mind. I speak reasonable Spanish so the language of the tour isn’t too much of a problem, it’s more a case of what, if anything, can be seen.
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
This sounds like what I have in mind. I speak reasonable Spanish so the language of the tour isn’t too much of a problem, it’s more a case of what, if anything, can be seen.
Of course you see the Gran Dolina and the Sima de los Huesos from outside. But it is much more than watching a photo because you can see archeologists working and the whole scenario.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Of course you see the Gran Dolina and the Sima de los Huesos from outside. But it is much more than watching a photo because you can see archeologists working and the whole scenario.
I really hope this is available again when I’m there! I’ll only be there for one day, a Wednesday, so I also know that there’s a possibility that it will be one of the days when tours don’t run. Fingers crossed!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Estrecho, Ruta Fray Leopoldo,
Vía Serrana, Camino Francés
El País has an article about recent discoveries with an eye-catching photo (from 2007) of the dig.

“I don’t think there is any other site in the world where all the human species to inhabit Europe have been found: pre-Homo antecessor, Homo antecessor, pre-Neanderthals, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens,” says Martinón-Torres.
 

Faye Walker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Went to the museum in 2014 and was enthralled. As a medical anthropologist it was a delight to me. My cathedral of sorts. Sent Spouse — who studied and practiced a fair amount of archeology at indigenous sites in North America — to the Atapuerca site in 2018, and then on to the museum in Burgos. Highlights of a lifetime for him. He stayed at an albergue in Atapuerca that helped arrange the bus and visit to the site, and planned dinner around that schedule.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I have stayed at an albergue in Atapeuerca, a very simple albergue. But I did not see any information, or hear anything about, the possibility of visiting the site. On a later occasion, I spent two weeks in Burgos as a hospitalera, but I did not see any information about this possibility. Perhaps it was an arrangement exclusive to a particular albergue in Atapuerca. I am sure that it would be a very special treat for someone with archaeological training and experience.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I’ve since been in touch with the people at this company (see link) which runs safari tours about the Paleolithic period, and works to conserve endangered species that were alive then and which are on their land now. It’s near to Atapuerca and they talk a lot about the history of the area. I imagine people here already know about it and I’d be interested to know your experiences of it, but I also thought it’d be a sensible addition to this thread for those who haven’t yet come across it. I’m thinking that for me, on my last day, it might be a nice option, particularly if the Atapuerca excavation isn’t open.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I wandered about in the museum, trying to turn my brain on and develop some sort of interest. Finally, I gave up. I guess I was just too weary from walking. In reflection, I favour museum displays which show something of the daily life of the human or protohuman figures, rather than the skull of an early human which was a prize display in a glass case.
FWIW, I was fascinated by their "prize display in a glass case" and I really enjoyed the exhibition on level -1 of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. I think they recommend that you start on level -1, dedicated to the excavation and archaeological finds and discoveries on the Sierra de Atapuerca. We spent most of our time there and afterwards we also strolled through the exhibitions on level 0-2 and from memory, these exhibitions were so-so but the explanations and items displayed on level -1 were excellent. It's only or mostly in Spanish, though, I think?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I'm lucky. I can visit Knepp with a half-hour drive anytime night or day. What they have achieved in not much more than a decade is amazing; what they may achieve in another 10 years???

Recommended lock-down reading https://www.waterstones.com/book/wilding/isabella-tree/9781509805105 other booksellers are available ;)

Any Pilgrim who'd like to visit Knepp can PM me for accommodation advice
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hey, @Lhollo you might be interested in this: https://knepp.co.uk/home, an amazing project and a lot closer to home.
I am very interested in that! It’s a long drive from my place in Lancashire but perfect for the type of break I’d enjoy in the U.K. I imagine their accommodation is very well booked up for the foreseeable future but those treehouses look particularly appealing. We’ll be remembering it. Thanks 🙏
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
Thank you so much for this! I did wonder whether something like this was the case with the museum, and it’s completely understandable. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things are better for them by next June but of course seeing Atapuerca is only something that would be nice, and not exactly crucial. I’ve read excellent things about the museum, and of course I know that Burgos itself is well worth exploring for a day, so we’ll plan to make the best of the day no matter what. Thanks again for your really helpful information and suggestions. 🙏
The museum is wonderful and has Spanish and English labellling.
 

4 Eyes

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF from SJPP 14, VDLP from Seville 15, DN&P from Irun 16, Portuguese from Lisbon 17, CF from SJPP 18
I went in 2018. Upon arrival in Atapuerca I went first to the museum just outside of town (as shown by Tincatinker's picture posted above) at around noon. Got all the info I needed about visiting the excavation site. Visited the museum there for an hour or so. Got to the hostel in Atapuerca and got settled. Walked around the village and saw the viewpoint of the ancient lake from the little hill as described in the museum. Visited an even smaller museum which is a part of the tourist office in the village. They told me exactly where to board the bus across the street for the excavation site. Got on the bus. The bus took me back to the museum as depicted in Tincatinker's picture. The excavation site is not there where the building is. There is a mock prehisoric village there but that is not the excavation site. From there I took the bus up the mountains to the excavation site (as depicted in the picture posted above by Lhollo). Entrance is by guided tour only. The guide spoke only Spanish. With Google translate I understood some of what he said, but it was far from satisfactory. Next day walked to Burgos. On layover day in Burgos went and spent most of the day in the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. That completed the whole experience for me. It made sense of everything I saw at the excavation site the day before. The experience would not have been so satisfactory had I left any part of it out. It was greatly rewarding.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Agree. Just don’t be there on a Monday 😉
Every single town or city that has an interesting museum or archaeological site in Spain I show up in on a Monday. I DO however tend to show up for things I don't want to, like the annual Wine Festival in Logrono. (And don't get me wrong... I love wine, and Riojas in particular. I just don't fancy crowds of people drinking coca cola spiked with red wine and then throwing up or otherwise relieving themselves in the street, making noise until 4am.)
 
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