OK, so it was a family holiday to Spain, but I'm not the kind of person to miss out on the opportunity to see some foreign monuments given the chance. Consequently my wife and I set out on quite an adventure to see two major Spanish complexes and one little known site. The first complex of monuments we visited is at the beautiful town of Antequera, 50km west of Granada.
Due to Spain not having a National Grid system I will give the longitude and latitude of the various monuments instead.
We approached Antequera from the east (from the direction of Granada). It's a scary bit of motorway, but it was the way we had to come. The best thing about this approach is that you see the wonderful mountain known loacally as The Lovers (see fig. 1) before you see the town. This amazing rock pinacle forms the focus for the tombs at Antequera and quite frankly blew my mind! Trun your head to one side and the mountain takes on the unmistakeable form of a face with a massive nose.
Our first target was the Romeral Dolmen (N37° 02.128' W4° 32.031') (see fig. 2) and after a little adventure in finding the place (wrong turn at the supermarket, which meant a 7km drive up a scary mountain road before I could turn round!) we found the turn off past the supermarket and reached the mound. There is a little hut there where they hand out tickets, but DON'T charge money: this is just to keep tabs on numbers. The man inside also gave good directions to the other two dolmens.
The long passage is built with drystone walls and large slabs forming the roof (see fig. 3). This leads to an exquisite megalithic doorway that leads into the main chamber - and what a chamber it is!
The roof is held up by intense corbelling and formed from a single capstone that forms a circular disc at the apex (see fig. 4). Beyond this chamber is a smaller, also corbelled chamber with a similar roof linked by a short megalithic passage. The axis of the passage is north south wth the entrance at the south end. When you sit in the rear chamber and look down the passage only a small slither of the entrance. Usually this is done to narrow the sun's beam or something similar, yet there can be no astronomical here as it faces due south.
All the time you are aware of the massive face-shaped mountain that overlooks the whole valley. It must have been the mountain that caused this tomb to be built here. What a great place! However, when you're used to the smaller Irish monuments te whole thing is somewhat overwhelming and confuses the senses somewhat.
I was pleased to see a fair few other people visiting the site while we were there, but as with so many people who visit Irish sites they just seemed to arrive, go in, go out and leave.