Dolmens of ANTEQUERA
Antequera is the site of the famous Dolmens (ancient megalithic tombs), which date back nearly 6000 years.
There are three dolmen sites, Menga, Viera and El Romal, and they are one of the most important dolmen groups in Europe.
Collectively they were UNESCO awarded in 2016.
You can view and absorb the fascinating background to these incredible tombs in the Visitor Centre (see below) on the edge of Antequera on the site of Menga and Viera. El Romal is a couple of kilometers car drive further on.
At time of writing, viewing, amazingly, is free of charge.
See How to Get There below.
The Dolmens are visited from people all over Spain, and by tourists on day trips from the coast. If staying in Antequera, you have them on your doorstep!
Background of the Dolmens of ANTEQUERA
Construction of the Dolmens occurred during the Neolithic period and Copper Age from around 3750 to 2200 BC.
They were built by farmers, who lived in the fertile Guadalhorce valley, displaying an almost non credible grasp of architecture and practical engineering for the period.
The difficulty of building these ancient mausoleums, using enormous stones quarried some distance away, implies a well structured society, with strong leadership and deep rooted religious commitments.
One of the roof stones alone, in the Menga dolmen is calculated to weigh 200 tons. This phenomenom of studied transportation and placement is emphasized when one considers the heaviest stone in the heralded Stone Henge site in the UK, is 40 tons.
Do watch the video simulation in the Visitor Centre of the studied construction of these tombs to give substance to the information below.
Menga Dolmen of ANTEQUERA
The Menga dolmen is the oldest, believed to have been constructed between 3750 to 3650 BC.
It is also the largest dolmen in Europe.
Whilst the corridor entrance to Menga is unroofed, it is the ‘capstoned’ entry section that has been adopted as the famous brand mark of the dolmens as a whole.
Menga comprises three sections. The open entrance corridor leads to the capstoned section referred to above, which in turn leads to the large funerary chamber, where three unyielding stone pillars support the enormous roof slabs.
The construction technique is known as orthostatic, whereby large stones are planted into the pre-dug ground upright (orthostats) to form two parallel walls, and capstones laid across the top to form the roof.
Menga is 27.5 meters long, with the height increasing from 2.7 meters at the entrance to 3.5 meters at the rear chamber.
Very rare in megalithic buildings is the presence here of a deep and narrow well shaft. This shaft is some 20 meters deep and 1.5 meters in diameter.
One of the key features of Menga is the alignment of the entrance passage to the Peña de los Enamorades, from which one can watch the sunrise over the Pena during the summer solstice.
The structure of the dolmen is covered with a tumulus of 50 m in diameter, the completed stone structure being covered with soil and stones, and built up into the mound that can be seen today.
The funerary chamber likely served as a grave for the ruling families of the time. When the grave was opened and examined in the 19th century, archaeologists apparently found the skeletons of several hundred people inside.
Viera Dolmen of ANTEQUERA
70 meters from the Menga is the Viera dolmen. It is named after two brothers, Antonio and Jose Viera, both gardeners, who discovered it in 1905.
The Dolmen de Viera was constructed in 3510-3020 BC.
Like the Menga, it is built in orthostatic style.
The Viera dolmen comprises two sections, consisting of a long corridor formed by twenty-seven stones, leading to a rectangular chamber. Like Menga, this is presumed to be a burial chamber, although only silica, bone tools and ceramics were discovered here.
The burial chamber is much smaller than the Menga, being only 1.6 meters wide and 2 meters high. The corridor is 21 metres long and 1.6 meters wide.
Again, like Menga, the Viera dolmen is covered by a tumulus 50 metres in diameter.
El Romeral Dolmen of ANTEQUERA
In the same year of the uncovering of the Viera dolmen the Viera brothers discoverd the third dolmen, a spot known then as the Cerillo Blanco (white hillock). This site was very close to the then old sugar factory, El Romeral.
This dolmen is considerably younger than Menga and Viera, and shows signs of technical evolution in construction.
It is considered to have been constructed around 1800 BC.
Like the other two, El Romeral is a chambered tomb covered by a mound.
Unlike Menga dn Viera it consists of a long corridor with drystone walls, made of small stones, and then a ceiling made of megalithic slabs.
The corridor culminates with two consecutive round chambers. The larger chamber has a diameter of 4.20 metres, and it’s walls are built in the same way as the corridor, using small stones, and topped with a megalithic capstone.
The floor of the corridor and main chamber are made of packed earth. The second chamber which is linked to the first by a rectangular corridor has a stone slabbed floor. No particular reason is given for this.
Bones and grave goods were found within this dolmen.
This informative visitor centre is easily reached if you are staying in Antequera, either on foot (around 30 minutes from the centre of town), or by using the Linea 1 urban bus travelling in the direction of the Antequera hospital on the edge of the city (look out for bus stops). You can of course use the car – there is free parking on site – and the visitor centre is on the A-354 as you leave Antequera , on the left, or, on the right if you are entering Antequera.
El Romeral is on an industrial site, off Carretera A-7283, using the MA-232 slip road (you can click here for directions)
2 Jan – 31 Mar. Tues to Sat 09.00 – 17.30. Sun and Holidays 09.00 – 15.30
1 Apr – 31 May. Tues to Sat 09.00 – 19.30. Sun and Holidays 09.00 – 15.30
1 Jun – 15 Sep. Tues to Sun 09.00 – 15.30
16 Sep – 31 Mar. Tues to Sat 09.00. Sun and Holidays 09.00 – 15.30