Museum of Human Evolution – Burgos, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Museum of Human Evolution

This remarkable museum sprung from one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in the world. 


About 10 miles east of the Spanish city of Burgos is the Sierra de Atapuerca, one of the world’s most important and extensive archaeological sites for the study of human evolution. There, skeletal remains were discovered that are believed to be the earliest evidence of humans in Western Europe.

In 2010, a museum, research center, and convention center were built on the site of a former military barracks to form the Complex of Human Evolution (Complejo de la Evolución Humana). While the museum building is a great example of modern architecture, particularly the interior, it is the contents and the way they are displayed that leaves visitors in admiration of the curatorial team.

A major attraction is the section on the evolution of the human brain, which includes a huge model of a brain consisting of interconnected neurons. Visitors can enter the massive organ and see an amazing display of neurons firing during as they process information.

There is also a display of 10 amazing sculptures of our prehistoric ancestors before the Homo sapiens. Another display covers the work of Darwin, including a life-size cross section through HMS Beagle.

The top floor diverts away from prehistory and deals with social and intellectual evolution. There are displays relating to Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Steven Hawking. The caricatures of these famous scientists are quite amusing.

Know Before You Go

No photographs are allowed on floor -1 but anywhere else it is allowed without flash. It is also possible to visit the excavations at Atapuerca. After visiting the museum there is a nice terrace bar/cafe outside the convention center which overlooks the river, the statue of El Cid and the old town.

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July 2, 2018

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