Megalithic finds in Gorafe, Granada

Megalithic finds and more Dolmens than you can imagine are to be found in the hidden so-called Badlands of Andalucia. You'll be tripping over history if you dig up the past, and take a hike around nature-filled Gorafe, in Granada province.

Dolmen

Holiday in Granada

Perhaps you might be off for a bit of ski fun in the Sierra Nevada mountain range this winter? Or touring Granada city and the ancient walls of the Alhambra Palace? Escape for a day from your Granada holiday home and do something different. Make time to see a little of the surrounding countryside too - the Badlands - it's as different from traditional Spain as you can imagine.

Calle Reyes Católicos

 

Nature's garden 

Expect the full force of nature if you decide to explore this side of Granada: the wide open mouth of the gorge, a stunning snow-capped mountain frame, and plenty of wildlife, especially on the wing. Hiking country starts right here, and if you're into history - you're in the right place!

Hiking in the Sierra Nevada

How do you get to Gorafe?

Getting to Gorafe from Granada is easy. Exit 16 on the A92  from Granada. As you pass Guadix follow the signs for Baza, and turn off at the signs for Gorafe about 12 kms up that road. 

We went there last month - and were pretty pleased with what we unearthed. This picture is the symbol for Gorafe, it represents the stones of a Dolmen, laid on top of each other, as though you're looking down on one. Look out for this same symbol on silver jewellery in the area, perhaps a nice holiday souvenir? 

Gorafe symbol

A straight road

Driving there, the long Roman road stretched on and on, lined with rows of Olive, Almond and Vine. A Golden Eagle swooped low and flew alongside us for a few brief seconds, a highlight for us. There were Lesser Kestrels, Trumpeter Finches and Black Bellied Sand Grouse. The area is also well known for Bustards and Falcons.

Gor valley

When is the best time to visit?

We went last month, late autumn. However we thought we'd like to re-visit next spring, when the Almond is pretty in pink and nature gathers for a party. We'll pack hiking boots too - the impressive gorge is ripe for exploring on foot. Essentially it's a massive canyon carved through by the river Gor, 20 kms long and fed by the snow melt icy waters of the Sierra de Baza.

Another reason for laced up boots, the floor of the gorge is home to the Montpellier Snake and the Oscellated Lizard - mind your step in warmer weather! Fox, Badger, Marten and Wild Boar also call this fertile valley home.

Gor valley

First stop for Dolmen hunting

Nature wasn't the only call to Gor though. We parked above Gorafe to begin our hunt for Dolmens - there are almost 240 of them hereabouts, and the local tourism board has been canny enough to mark them as a Megalithic Route which you can hike - a pleasant and interesting way to see the area, with a bit of history thrown in. Kids will love scrambling around - and seeing who is first to spot the Necropolises - or groups - of Dolmens. We didn't have to look far, and the various groups are situated along the edges of the gorge on terraces. We were soon falling over them!

Dolmens

The land around the river Gor is known as one of the most important megalithic sites in Europe, a 20 km length stretch which have been the source of intense studies by scholars for years, including the Swiss anthropologist Jean Christian Spahni who carried out the most intensive and comprehensive studies and analysis of the area. The results of all this had work shows us that the area can be dated from between the late Neolithic and early Bronze ages. 

cim centre

Megalithic Interpretation Centre

Down to Gorafe village itself, and next stop was a visit to the Megalithic Interpretation Centre (CIM) You'll find it to the right hand side tucked away at the back of the church as shown in the photo below.  From first glance, as you can see, it didn't look all that large, we thought perhaps 10 minutes or so, pick up a few leaflets. We were wrong! Once inside, the lady behind the desk took us through a curtain and into the centre which actually stretches for 600 metres - below ground! 

Interpretation centre

Subterranean museum

We were the only ones there, so she locked the front door and gave us a special guided tour. First up was a 3D film, entitled '5,000 Years Ago', which kids would love, showing how it life was around the river Gor and this part of Granada for early man. I don't think anyone ever grows out of the excitement of a 3D film!

Then through another curtain into various rooms with information boards, interactive exhibitions, and just when we thought that was it, another surprise. 

Through we went, into an enormous dark space. A spiral ramped walkway surrounds a silhouette of a giant globe, A handrail allows visitors to lean over and watch as the show is projected onto the spinning globe, All in all it's a magnificent representation of early European history, through archive images.

globe

Early tools

A final room showed us early tools such as those made with flint, and explained how they were made and what they were used for, before we were shown out of the underground museum again, blinking against the bright sunshine after our underground treat.

We had covered a total area of 560 m2, and it took about an hour. The entire centre is ramped too, so access for wheelchairs and pushchairs is no problem, there are plenty of toilet facilities.

The Gorafe Megalithic Interpretation Centre

Calle Granada, 3

Gorafe 

18890

*Closed Mondays

Open 11am - 4pm.

Tel 958693369

The cost? Not a princely sum. As adults, we paid €3 each - well worth it!

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