Cuevas de Menga y Viera

Dolmen de Menga - Dolmen de Viera


Useful Information

photography
Covered Passage of Antequera, Spain. Public Domain.
Location: In Antequera, 50km north of Málaga. Follow N331 from Málaga to Antequera. At a gas station, 1km north of the center at the city limits.
(37.024586, -4.546292)
Open: All year Mon-Sat 9-14, 15-18, Sun 10-14:30.
Fee: free, maybe tip for the guide.
Classification: SubterraneaCatacombs prehistoric cave tombs, chambered cairn.
Light: electric.
Dimension:
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography: García Sanjuán, L., Mora Molina, C. y Bartelheim, M. (2019): The Antequera megalithic site in the work of Georg and Vera Leisner: a review, Spal 28.2: 93-111. DOI online
Address: Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura y Patrimonio Histórico, Altamira Palace, Santa María La Blanca, 1, 41004 - Seville, Tel: +34-955-036-000, Fax: +34-955-036-406. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

photography
Covered Passage of Antequera, Spain. Public Domain.
3500 b.C. Dolmen de Menga built and in use.
2500 b.C. Dolmen de Viera built and in use.
1530 first written mention of the dolmen.
1842-1847 cleaning works carried out by Rafael Mitjana y Ardison, architect of the Malaga City Council.
JUL-1886 acquired by the the Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts from Manuel Ramón Zarco del Valle for the amount of 25,000 pesetas.
1903 underground chambers discovered by the Viera brothers.
1923 declared a National Monument.
1939 tombs and their burial mounds restored by architect Francisco Prieto-Moreno Pardo.
1986 excavations under the direction of professors José Enrique Ferrer and Ignacio Marqués from the University of Malaga.
1988 excavations under the direction of professors José Enrique Ferrer and Ignacio Marqués from the University of Malaga.
1991 excavations under the direction of professors José Enrique Ferrer and Ignacio Marqués from the University of Malaga.
2003-2006 modernization, stabilization and installation of new light system.
JUN-2016 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

photography
Covered Passage of Antequera, Spain. Public Domain.

The plural cuevas is used very often for a single cave, meaning some chambers. But in this case it is legitimate, the Cuevas de Menga y Viera are two prehistoric cave tombs which are only 50m apart. This kind of tomb is also called dolmen or corridor tombs. The tombs have been cleared out by tomb raiders long ago, and the sparse remains are now on display in the Museo Arqueológico (archaeological Museum) in Málaga. The museum is located in the Alcazaba, the former moorish residence.

The Cueva de Menga or Dolmen de Menga is famous for being the largest dolmen in Europe, and most likely the largest in the world. The chamber measures 25m x 6m, which is about 50% bigger than the Loire Grand Dolmen. It is approximately 5,500 years old.

The Cueva de Viera or Dolmen de Viera consists of a 24m long passage which leads to a square port-hole stone. Beyond this stone is a square end chamber, which is smaller than Menga but not less interesting. It is approximately 4,500 years old.

This two tombs are the best preserved prehistoric tombs in Spain. This megalithic remains are about the same age as Stonehenge in Great Britain and the dolmen in the Bretagne, France.

The hills were erected during Megalith times which is the Late Stone Age. The were not used any more through Bronze and Iron Age, but the hills were still there and known. Obviously at some point in time grave robbers found the chambers and emptied them. Probably since this time the Dolmen de Menga was open. Growing interest of history began in the mid 19th century and finally the site was purchased by the state. Still there was no scientific examination. The Viera brothers were curious and started digging which resulted in the official "discovery" of the chambers in 1903. As a result the dolmen was named after them. Subsequently they were excavated, restored and opened to the public. However, Wars and the politic situation resulted in various times where they were closed. In the 1980 they were closed again, this time due to deterioration. They were deemed unsafe and closed for security reasons, or probably they were just unprofitable.

A traveller reported in 2002: "Soon a local guide will emerge from nowhere and show you the hole in the fence which gives access to the sites. For a few euro, he will then switch on the electric lighting in the cairns and give you a description of the sites."

At the same time the period between 1980 and 2007 is a period of intensive archaeological research by the University of Malaga. However in 2003 finally the whole structure was consolidated in cooperation with archaeologists. This included the installation of a new light system and took until 2007. Since this modernization the dolmens are reopened with a completely new exhibition and design. They are now important tourist sites and since they were listed on the UNESCO WHL they are even more popular.