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Dolmens of Antequera: UNESCO World Heritage?

April 4, 2014 – 8:17 am Peña de los Enamorados - Lovers' Rock, part of the Monumental Compex of Anterquera, entered as Spain's application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for 2015. Photograph: Michelle Chaplow Peña de los Enamorados – Lovers’ Leap, part of the Monumental Complex of Antequera, entered as Spain’s 2015 application for UNESCO World Heritage Status. Photograph: Michelle Chaplow

 

Spain has moved a step closer to having another UNESCO World Heritage site, to add to the 42 sites already in the country. A total of six of these are located in Andalucia.

Last week it was announced that the prehistoric Dolmens of Antequera – which include the largest dolmen in Europe, Cueva de la Menga – have been selected as Spain’s only candidate for World Heritage status for 2015, in the category of culture. The decision on the site, which is located in Malaga province, will be announced in June/July 2016.

This megalithic structure consists of a 25-metre-long, four-metre-high corridor with 32 massive stone slabs. The dolmen has mystical qualities related to the sun, making it an intriguing place to visit, especially at the summer solstice when the sun shines directly into its entrance, as designed by the Iberian tribes who built in. The other two dolmens are smaller but nonetheless impressive; all are at least 3,500 years old, and were used for funereal purposes.

The site, which is already a BIC – Bien de Interes Cultural - also includes two mountain formations: the Peña de los Enamorados and the curious limestone rock outcrops of El Torcal. Both of these natural monuments were key in positioning the dolmens, and the site is qualified as a scenic-archaeological complex, with El Torcal a protected Natural Park. Read the official UNESCO description of the Antequera Dolmen Site here.

A museum is planned, with a total budget of eight million euros, due to start in 2015, and scheduled to be completed in 2017. The project was started in 1994.

If the application is successful, a UNESCO grant will be awarded for maintenance of the site, and the added attention and publicity will be welcome for the historic town of Antequera, with its Moorish fort and Roman remains, and the surrounding area. Spain has no other megalithic monuments recognised by UNESCO, while the UK has three: Stonehenge, Avebury and Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

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