Inside Europe's oldest 'tourist attraction' – where visitors have been going for 40,000 years | The Sun

HOLIDAYMAKERS have been flocking to Europe's oldest tourist attraction in some form or another for more than 40,000 years.

Set in Malaga in southern Spain, the Nerja Caves were "discovered" in 1959 by a group of locals who were out searching for bats at the time.

The Nerja Caves are famous for their beautiful rock formations and cave paintings.

Despite the caves only gaining recognition 64 years ago, early humans had been visiting the site thousands of years earlier.

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Cordoba used carbon dating techniques to determine exactly when these early visits took place.

The research found that humans first visited the caves 41,291 years ago – 10,000 years earlier than first thought.

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According to CNN Travel, the researchers wrote: "It is difficult to determine if remains [such as rock art, fire remains or human constructions] were left by single visits or recurrent ones."

Despite these difficulties, researchers have determined that multiple visits to the Nerja Caves took place.

Marián Medina, who was the lead author of the research, believed that groups entered to create artwork or to simply admire the caves themselves.

Since being re-discovered in the 1950s, the Nerja Caves have become a popular tourist attraction in Spain.

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While there are 589 rock paintings in the Nerja Caves, they aren't on display to the public for conservation reasons.

Despite the limited public access, holidaymakers can visit the public gallery inside the Nerja Caves.

Visitors to the caves will be able to go on a 45-minute walk, complete with an audio guide.

Other nearby attractions include The Nerja Caves Museum, which details the history of the caves, and the little red train (known as the Cueva Tren), which takes visitors around the town of Nerja.

Concerts are also routinely held in the Nerja Caves because their structure acts as a natural amphitheatre.

The caves have received a positive score on TripAdvisor with a 4.5/5 star rating from more than 7,500 visitor reviews.

One person wrote: "The caves of Nerja are absolutely amazing and well worth a visit.

"The main cave itself is huge, it took around an hour to walk through. The free audio guide is really useful, and it gives just the right amount of information for an everyday tourist."

While another said: "I've been to many caves with caverns and passageways, but I've never seen anything as spectacular as the Nerja Caves."

A third person added: "An amazing cave, but the cave paintings aren't on display for the public."

The Nerja Caves are open every day of the year, except for January 1 and May 15, and are normally open between 9am and 3.30pm – although times may vary throughout the year.

Combo tickets to the Nerja Caves, museum, and train cost €15 (£12.94) for a full-paying adult and €10 (£8.62) for a child.

The Nerja Caves are an hour's drive from Malaga, and can also be reached on public transport too.

Meanwhile, England's oldest tourist attraction is also a cave.

Mother Shipton's Cave in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, has been welcoming visitors for 400 years – and it remains popular to this day.

Mother Shipton was born in the cave, which sits on the banks of the River Nidd, in 1488, and was originally named Ursula Sontheil.

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Because of her fortune-telling abilities, which included accurately predicting the invention of iron ships and the Great Fire of London in 1666, her birthplace remains popular.

The UK is also home to a hidden cave made of crystals that fans call the most magical place in England.

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