Antequera is a beautiful town in Andalusia in the south of Spain. Most tourists drive straight past on their way to better-known destinations, which is a great shame because the town has a rich history. In fact, for lovers of prehistoric monuments it is one of the most interesting places in Europe. The monuments are 4000 years old and are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Antequera

Antequera is in Andalusia in the south of Spain

The town of Antequera

Peña de los Enamorados

From the town you can see a mountain with a very distinctive shape, called the Peña de los Enamorados (The Lovers’ Rock). It is named after the local legend of a young Christian and his Moorish (Muslim) lover who threw themselves off the rock together while being pursued by Moorish soldiers. This 880 metre high mountain may very probably have been of importance in prehistory.

If you look at the photo and tilt your head to one side, you will see that the rock resembles a face (with the chin on the left and the forehead on the right). The three dolmen which stand nearby appear to be in line with the mountain.
Peña de los Enamorados, tilt your head to see a face (chin left, forehead right)

Map of the area showing the dolmens and the rock formation (top right). The red dots are the three dolmens which stand in line with the chin of the rock formation

Dolmen de Menga

The Dolmen de Menga is a megalithic tomb more than 4000 years old (Bronze Age). It is one of the largest prehistoric monuments in Europe, 25 metres long, 5 metres wide and 4 metres high. It is built from 32 stones of which the heaviest weighs 180 thousand kilos. As far as I know that is the largest stone ever used in building a megalithic tomb in Europe. When completed, the tomb was covered with sand and concealed under a hill. The tomb was first opened in the 19th century, when archaeologists found many bones which appeared to come from hundreds of different people.

Entrance of the Dolmen de Menga
Inside the Dolmen de Menga
Not long ago a well was discovered inside the monument. Its purpose is unknown
Mysterious well in the Dolmen de Menga
A number of inscriptions can be seen inside the dolmen. Their significance is unclear

Dolmen de Viera

Close to the Dolmen de Menga, just 70 metres away in fact, is a tomb of a completely different type. This is the Dolmen de Viera, discovered in 1903 by brothers named Viera. The long entrance leads to a passage 21 metres long, which ends at the back of the tomb at an enormous stone. On 21st June every year, the Summer Solstice, this stone is dramatically illuminated. A ray of light shines through the entrance of the tomb and reaches right to the very end of the passage, falling precisely on the central stone.

Entrance of the Dolmen de Vierra
A 21 metre passage leads to a central stone at the back of the tomb. This is illuminated every year during the Summer Solstice on 21st June.
Sunlight during the Summer Solstice on 21st June

Dolmen de Romeral

This dolmen lies 4 kilometres away and is again of a totally different type to the other two. This was also built around 4000 years ago but it is dome-shaped.

Dolmen de Romeral
The entrance. This dolmen is built of flat stones, in contrast to the other dolmens, which are built of large rocks

Inside the dolmen, an impressive round dome
On the left Hein Klompmaker, director of the Hunebed Centre. On the right, our guides.

New museum

For many years a new museum has been under construction which will tell the fascinating story of the Dolmen de Antequera. It is a very large building but unfortunately it has stood empty for many years. Luckily there is also a small museum where a number of unique local finds can be seen.

Unique finds from the area around Antequera, on display in the Visitors’ Centre at the Dolmen de Menga. This exhibit is about 30 cm high
A big, half finished  building still waiting to hold a grand museum

Text Harrie Wolters

Translation Alun Harvey

Vorig artikelHunebeds in Odsherred, Denmark
Volgend artikelPrehistoric temples on Malta
Harrie Wolters is algemeen directeur van het Hunebedcentrum.

3 REACTIES

  1. Echt overweldigend mooie dolmens. Bijgewerkte stenen (Menga), waardoor stopstenen niet nodig zijn), draagstenen in het midden van dolmen Menga, oriëntatie op een tot de verbeelding sprekende rotspartij, een diepe put in Dolmen Menga: kortom veel verschillen met Drentse hunebdden. Fascinerend!

    • Hallo Pascalle, dat is zeker een mooie plek. Hoe gaat het met jullie? We (Ada en ik) komen zeker nog een keertje bij jullie langs voor een vakantie. Even wachten tot we uit de lockdown komen. Groet, Harrie Wolters

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