Gorafe – a trip through prehistory
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Dolmens, strawberries and walking on water
Or I can tell you – it’s a burial tomb of huge slabs of stone standing on end around a dug out depression, and topped with an enormous stone ‘lid’.
Our Group voyage of discovery commenced on the Mirador in the car park of the Venta Los Hermanos Vergara, which gave us our first view of the deep steep gorge in which the village of Gorafe is situated.
Here we met our guide, Presentación Hernandez Martinez, or Pré for short, who led us down the hill and then halfway up again, as though we were the Grand Old Duke of York’s 10,000 men, in order for us to see a dolmen up close.
Then on to the village, where market day is Wednesday, up a thousand steps (well, not quite!) to the small 16th century church of the Virgen de la Anunciación, with its lifesize blue robed statue of the Virgin Mary on the inside, and its Mirador with a bird’s-eye view of the village on the outside.
The Centro de Interpretación, right next to the church, was our next stop, where the group divided in two to see films explaining the history of the area and the dolmens in particular. A great deal of money has been spent on this new and up-to-the-minute Centre, with a 3-D film and a circular spiral presentation hall, where a film was simultaneously projected onto the ceiling, the floor, and what looked to me like an enormous white mushroom suspended halfway between floor and ceiling. All very impressive, but I needed someone to interpret the Interpretation Centre!
Pré then took us up another vertiginous climb to her cave house, which was delightfully cool after our exertions in the sun.
Returning to the village we sat down to our 2 hour lunch in the Posada Los Guiles, where the best ever Tinto Verano is made by Rosalia Rodriguez, who also served a strawberry fruit cup dessert so delicious that I was forced to eat 3 of them!
After lunch we were promised a ‘surprise’. Pré led us to the Balneario de Alicun, a spa set in a beautifully landscaped and tended park, to see the Acueducto del Toril. This used to be a normal irrigation channel on ground level, probably made to take the water to the village in its Paleolithic days. Mineral deposits from the water have caused it to form a wall more than 15 metres high and about a kilometre in length.
To see this phenomenon we walked along a grassy path between huge weathered rocks before turning to pass underneath the acueducto. Here the water seeps down through the limestone in a constant cascade of drips, forming a shallow stream beneath, and on which we walked – we were walking on water!
So thus ended our trip to the Guadix Basin. Well fed and well exercised as well as well informed we wended our homeward way, all of us now experts on the use and building of dolmens.