Lascaux IV

by Bert Schwarz
Lascaux IV © Bert Schwarz

A good 10 minutes from our campsite, on the periphery of Montignac, we find the Lascaux cave. It is famous for its Paleolian cave paintings. They are estimated to be up to 20,000 years old.

Story, Camera, Edit : Bert Schwarz

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The Vézère Valley in the Dordogne, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is full of prehistoric sites with around 25 caves, including the famous Lascaux Cave in Montignac.

9,000 m² of construction blend into the landscape, stretched out like a façade open to the side, almost invisible from above through the green roof.

Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz
Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz

This is the Lascaux International Center or better "Lascaux IV", because the cave is almost completely reconstructed.

In 1983, Lascaux II was opened to the public and was the first facsimile of a cave in the world to contain the two most famous galleries: the Salle des Taureaux and the Diverticule Axial, which were reproduced identically with impressive precision. A few hundred meters from the original cave, "Lascaux IV" is located, ready for an extensive visit, as close as possible to the original cave.

Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz
Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz

In September 1940, the young Marcel Ravidat discovered a cave in the hill of Lascaux. Four days later he climbed into the cave with his friends Jacques Marsal, Georges Agniel and Simon Coencas. The four teenagers discovered numerous cave paintings. Maurice Thaon made the first drawings and sketches of the walls under the supervision of Abbé Breuil - professor at the Collège de France and a great specialist in cave art.

Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz
Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz

The Lascaux cave was then opened to the public in 1948. From the very first years, it aroused unprecedented enthusiasm among tourists. Unfortunately this did not remain without consequences: The carbon dioxide released quickly affected the sensitive rock faces of the site. In order to protect and preserve the works of art, the then Minister of Culture, André Malraux, set up a scientific commission for the Lascaux Cave and decided to close it to visitors on April 18, 1963. 20 years later, the works of art of the prehistoric painters could be admired again. Lascaux IV was opened.

Lascaux II © Bert Schwarz

Together with our guide, we set off on a journey through time as we marvelled at this masterpiece from prehistory, reflecting on the development of man and his tools.