The two Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal) and Siega Verde (Spain) are located on the banks of the rivers Agueda and Côa, tributaries of the river Douro, documenting continuous human occupation from the end of the Paleolithic Age. Hundreds of panels with thousands of animal figures (5,000 in Foz Côa and around 440 in Siega Verde) were carved over several millennia, representing the most remarkable open-air ensemble of Paleolithic art on the Iberian Peninsula.

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Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde

The Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde, located in Portugal and Spain respectively, are two UNESCO World Heritage sites that showcase an exceptional collection of prehistoric rock art. These sites provide a unique glimpse into the lives and artistic expressions of our ancient ancestors.


The rock art found in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde dates back thousands of years, with the oldest engravings estimated to be from the Upper Paleolithic period, around 25,000 years ago. The art consists of thousands of engraved figures, including animals, humans, and abstract symbols, carved into the rock surfaces of the valleys.

These engravings were created by the prehistoric inhabitants of the region, who used stone tools to etch their artistic expressions onto the rock faces. The reasons behind the creation of these engravings are still debated among archaeologists, but they are believed to have served various purposes, including religious or ritualistic significance, territorial marking, or storytelling.

For centuries, these rock art sites remained hidden and unknown to the wider world. It was only in the 1990s that the existence of these remarkable engravings came to light during the construction of a dam on the Côa River. The discovery sparked international interest and led to the protection and recognition of these sites as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Current State

The Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde are now carefully managed and preserved to ensure their long-term survival. The sites are open to the public, allowing visitors to experience the awe-inspiring beauty and historical significance of the rock art.

Visitors can explore the Côa Valley by taking guided tours, which provide insights into the history, meaning, and techniques used in the creation of the engravings. The tours also highlight the importance of preserving these fragile sites and the ongoing efforts to protect them from natural and human-induced threats.

Similarly, in Siega Verde, visitors can follow marked trails that lead them through the rock art sites. Information panels along the way provide context and explanations about the engravings, allowing visitors to appreciate the artistry and cultural significance of the ancient rock art.

Efforts are also being made to raise awareness about the importance of these sites and promote sustainable tourism practices. Local communities, together with national and international organizations, are working together to ensure the preservation and promotion of these unique cultural treasures.

The Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde stand as a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of our prehistoric ancestors. They offer a window into the past, allowing us to connect with our ancient heritage and gain a deeper understanding of the human experience throughout history.