Dolmen of Guadalperal

Partially visible Guadalperal dolmen during summer 2012
Partially visible Guadalperal dolmen during the summer of 2012


The Dolmen of Guadalperal, also known as the “Spanish Stonehenge”, is an ancient megalithic monument located near the town of Cáceres in the Extremadura region of western Spain.

The site, which dates back to the late Neolithic period, around 4,500 to 3,500 BCE, although other estimates for the site place the construction at a much earlier time between 5000-7000 BCE consists of a large central chamber with three smaller chambers around it and a number of standing stones.

Image by M Carmen Calvo Bravo
Spanish Megalithic Monument – Image by M Carmen Calvo Bravo

The Dolmen of Guadalperal is a remarkable example of Neolithic architecture, and it has been the subject of numerous scientific studies over the years. The monument is believed to have been used as a burial site, and it may also have served as a place of worship or other ritual activity. It is thought that the monument was built to honour the dead and to commemorate the passing of generations.


The Dolmen of Guadalperal was discovered by the German priest and archaeologist Hugo Obermaier between 1925 and 1927.

Obermaier was the chaplain of the house of Alba, to whom those lands belonged. There he spent long periods of time digging and studying the “treasure”, as it was called by the archaeologists of the time due to the number of items found from different periods.

Images from the Book "El Guadalperal: In memoriam" by Hugo Obermaier (1960)
Images from the Book “El Guadalperal: In memoriam” by Hugo Obermaier (1960) Source:

The local authorities at the time did not give the slightest importance to the discovery. In fact, the Neolithic remains were already known by the residents of the area, although they were unaware of their value.

Hugo Obermaier’s studies were not published until 1960. Three years later, the area was flooded by the construction of the Valdecañas Reservoir, a project to bring water and electricity to less developed parts of the region.

Dolmen de Guadalperal 1925
Guadalperal Dolmen in 1925 – Source: Fototeca del Club Universo Extremeño – Biblioteca Virtual Extremeña- View Full Gallery on Flickr

Spanish Stonehenge

The Spanish Stonehenge of Guadalperal consists of a group of about 150 large stones arranged in a circle in a vertical arrangement.

The stones are made of quartz and weigh up to 1500 kilograms, making them some of the heaviest of their type in Europe.

The Dolmen of Guadalperal was originally similar to this
The Dolmen of Guadalperal was originally similar to this – Source: Ángel Castaño

The Stones at the Dolmen of Guadalperal are preceded by an access corridor about 21 metres long and 1.5 metres wide. Experts believe that originally the structure was covered by a dome above the corridor. During the spring equinox, the sun entered through the gallery and illuminated one of the menhirs that blocked the corridor.


Like many of its European counterparts, it is believed the Spanish Stonehenge was used to commemorate the dead and also may have acted as a centre for various ceremonies in the area.

In addition to burial, the Guadalperal dolmen could have had other uses: to carry out religious rites, meetings or to keep the treasure of the community

Sculpted menhir believed to represent the line of the River Tagus
Sculpted menhir believed to represent the line of the River Tagus

The president of the Association Roots of Peraleda, Ángel Castaño has an interesting theory of his own. He believes that the shape of the Dolmen of Guadalperal is a map of the Tajo (Tagus) River. He spoke to members of the National Institute of Cartography and they seem to agree with him that the shape of the riverbed seems to coincide with the Neolithic monument.

Every number marks the position of a river bend
Every number marks the position of a river bend in the Tagus River – “The correspondence is not exact, but we must consider that the person who carved it was doing it from memory, and also that the river course may have changed a bit over the centuries, though the parts flowing between rocky walls are still the same.” – Source: Ángel Castaño

And it is speculated that just opposite, there could be another similar one. The Tagus was always a very mighty and navigable river for different civilizations. Now there are bridges to cross it but, in the past, our ancestors did it at some of the points where the river opened and, in summer, there was less water, like the Vado de Alarza. They could cross it on foot or on horseback.


In the early 1960s, the waters of the recently built Valdecañas reservoir began to cover the most fertile land in the north of Cáceres. It was the golden age of dams, of the large hydroelectric plants that swept away towns and villages throughout Spain.

The megalithic monument was submerged in the process. The tips of the tallest stones would sometimes appear as the water levels went down.

Spanish Neolithic Monument
Spanish Neolithic Monument

In 2019, Europe suffered from intense droughts and the waters of the Valdecañas Reservoir receded to its lowest point in fifty years. NASA was able to spot the Spanish Stonehenge from space and since then, local residents and a number of associations have petitioned the Spanish government to move and preserve the megalithic monument and its historical value before the water is submerged again under water.

Drought Reveals Lost “Spanish Stonehenge”
Drought Reveals Lost Spanish Neolithic Structure – Source: Earth Observatory NASA

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