Modern-day Spanish megaliths

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Since prehistoric times, man has had a compulsion to pile one stone on top of another. These man-made piles of carefully-arranged stones, known as cairns, can be found in many places all over the world. Many of them date back to the Stone Age but, remarkably, new ones are still being erected today. These days they often stand on top of a hill as a sign that people have made it to the top. It has become a tradition for every visitor to add another stone to the pile.

North of Carboneras on the Spanish coast of Andalusia stands an amazing collection of cairns, known as the Templo Hippie de Ángel. In fact the area could be better described as a sculpture garden with winding paths leading the visitor to cairns, artistically carved stones, sculptures and even an altar bearing an Indalo symbol. This symbol, dating from the Bronze Age around 2,500 BC, was originally found in a cave called the Grot Los Letretos near the town of Vélez Blanco. It shows a person holding a rainbow in its hands and is regarded as a symbol of good luck and safekeeping. These days this good luck charm can be seen all over the southeast of Spain.

But the “temple” here is not old, it is a part of the modern-day installation. Perhaps the name “Templo Hippie” is a clue. Every day people come here to lay more stones on the altar. Or they begin to build a new cairn in this place of peace and reflection.

However, if you look towards the north you will see a completely different kind of megalithic structure. In photos, it looks as if an enormous cruise ship is emerging from the mountains. In 2003 the Spanish company Azata began building an enormous hotel, 21 stories high. Construction was halted in 2006 and since then several organisations including Greenpeace have been trying to get the whole thing demolished. Unfortunately the fight is still continuing in the courts.

Near the cairns stands an ugly partly-built hotel, a blot on the landscape

Translation Alun Harvey

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