Antequera, a populous inland city in the Malaga province, has a rich history of occupation dating back nearly as far as Ronda. However, its archaeological history is distinct, with its most notable assets being the three UNESCO World Heritage neolithic dolmen structures. These impressive structures were built by farming communities approximately 6,500 years ago and are each unique in size and features.
Two of the dolmens sit side by side, while the third is located about four kilometers outside of town. Despite their differences, all three structures offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and practices of the ancient peoples who constructed them.
Guided trips to the Dolmens of Antequera
UNESCO World Heritage Convention
Located at the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain, the site comprises three megalithic monuments: the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tholos of El Romeral, and two natural monuments: La Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations, which are landmarks within the property. Built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age out of large stone blocks, these monuments form chambers with lintelled roofs or false cupolas. These three tombs, buried beneath their original earth tumuli, are one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory and one of the most important examples of European Megalithism.
UNESCO Website here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1501/
A little bit about Antequera’s dolmen structures
Using huge stones carved from nearby quarries, pits and holes were excavated, the stones rolled into place on logs, and then dropped vertically into position. To build the roofs of their structures the pit was filled with sand, the large roof stoned rolled onto the structure, and then the sand dug back out again, before the entire structure was then buried using sand, stones, and soil to form a mound.
Hotels close to Antequera’s dolmen structures
It’s incredible to think people so long ago had the skill and thought to build the megalithic structures we see now. The three dolmens are the twinned Menga and Viera, and the separate El Romeral.
Menga is considered the largest in Europe, and is believed to have been built around 2,500 BC. It is 25 metres deep, 5 metres wide, and 4 metres high. Historians have speculated the dolmen was used for burial of ruling families, but at the time of its excavation several hundred skeletons were found inside, explained by the perhaps 2,000 years of use.
70 metres away from Menga is the Viera dolmen, discovered in 1903 by the Viera brothers, and dated to around 2,500 to 2,000 BC. The structure was built using the orthstatic technique employed for Menga, but contains only a single chamber tomb, however some visitors believe Viera to be more impresive owing to the long 27 stone entrance.
Antequera Dolmen Photos
El Romeral, also discovered by the Viera brothers dates from 1,800 to 1,900 BC, though unlike Menga and Viera is built using stacked stones for the walls rather than free standing megaliths. An altar is clearly visible in El Romeral, where offerings to the dead would have been made.
Each of the three dolmens has clear views of Antequera’s Peña de las Enamorados, a rocky mountain with the face of a sleeping woman on it. It’s possible the location of the dolmens was chosen not just due to their alignment with the summer solstice, but also due to proximity of the mountain. The dolmens are also very close to the stunning El Torcal protected area.
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