The Ekainberri caves celebrate their 15th anniversary
The Gipuzkoa Councillor for Culture, Goizane Álvarez, has stated that in the 15 years since Ekainberri opened its doors it has received more than 440,000 visitors who have taken part in its different activities, guided tours, experimental archaeology workshops and dramatised visits to the Lili Palace.
He also stressed that the level of visitor satisfaction has been high. Ekainberri has become a "pilgrimage centre" and a "must" for those who understand the value of a World Heritage site, many foreigners and a specialised public. From this it can be seen that although the Ekain cave is closed, the paintings are still in perfect condition and that the presence of so many people to see them shows that the Ekainberri replica has fulfilled its function.
On the other hand, the discovery of the Ekain cave has had an "impact" on society. As a curiosity, before the discovery in 1969, there was no boy called "Ekain". As a result of the discovery, children called Ekain appeared and the number has increased considerably, becoming common names. In the decade of the discovery (1970-1979) 88 boys were registered with the name Ekain, and the number has continued to the present day, especially since the inauguration of Ekainberri in 2008, when in the decade 2010-2019 904 boys were declared in Ekain. In total 1952 boys are named Ekain in Spain according to INE data.
The Ekainberri cave is a replica of Ekain, whose paintings have been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It consists of 70 animal figures whose value is "exceptional" of cave art from the Palaeolithic period in the Basque Country. There is also a relationship between the social impact of the Ekain cave and the world of research. When Ekainberri was inaugurated in 2008, 14 caves were identified in the Basque Country and in this time we know of 17 more, 31 in total. Many of them in the Ekain area.
For Álvarez, Ekain is the maximum world cultural expression of Basque culture, the only one that can be visited in Gipuzkoa, through Ekainberri, and it is "a treasure and worth visiting". He said that with such an "important" heritage, Gipuzkoans have a responsibility to conserve and protect Ekain and Ekainberri is a "unique" tool, which is also having an economic impact on the Territory, as well as on Zestoa and the surrounding municipalities.
He also pointed out that people want to know where they come from and why we are here and, without a doubt, Ekainberri not only allows us to appreciate the paintings and murals in Ekain, we can also find out how people painted 14,000 years ago, how they made fire, how they painted and the way they hunted.
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