Antequera is located in the province of Malaga and was inhabited for at least 7000 years. It’s most striking asset are the three Neolithic dolmen structures, two of which sit side by side, and the third one is located about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) out of the city.
Built by farming communities whose presence has been established from 6,500 years ago, each of the three dolmens is unique varying is size and features. The fertile soils of the Guadalhorce were attractive to early farmers, so of course they needed places to worship their gods.
Using huge stones carved from nearby quarries, pits and holes were excavated. The stones were 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.
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 third one is called El Romeral.
Menga is considered the largest dolmen in Europe, and is believed to have been built around 2,500 BC. It is 25 meters (82 feet) deep, 5 meters (16 feet) wide, and 4 meters (13 feet) high. Historians have theorized that the dolmen was used for burial of ruling families, but at the time of its excavation several hundred skeletons were found inside, debunking this hypothesis.
70 meters (230 feet) 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 impressive owing to the long entrance consisting of 27 stones.
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.