The Dolmens Museum in Antequera was officially opened by the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, on Wednesday, more than 30 years after the idea was first proposed. He was accompanied by the mayor of Antequera, Manuel Barón; the regional government's Minister of Culture, Patricia del Pozo, and Bartolomé Ruiz, who is the director of the dolmen complex, which was classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2016.
"It isn't often that the agenda of a president of any government includes an event as emotional and happy as the one that I have the honour of presiding over today," said Moreno, who also described the museum as a "much needed facility which we have all been wanting for a long time".
The museum has been open to visitors since December, but it now houses its first four exhibitions.
One is called Cosmovisión, and is dedicated to archaeophysicist Michael Hoskin, who demonstrated how unique the Menga Dolmen is, because it is aligned with the Peña de los Enamorados (also known as Lovers' Rock), and that the Romeral Dolmen is aligned to El Torcal.
The second exhibition is dedicated to the Viera brothers, outstanding researchers whose discoveries were a major contribution to the archaeological knowledge of the site a century ago.
In the Gómez Moreno room, dedicated to the expert who carried out an exhaustive analysis of the three burial monuments, all the items found in the megalithic dolmens of Menga Viera and Romeral are on display for the first time. At the start of the 20th century these were taken to Madrid, Granada and Malaga but are now back where they belong.
And on the ground floor, in the room named after poet José Antonio Muños Rojas, there are contemporary works of art and photographs by Raúl Pérez of the landscapes of Antequera around the site of the dolmens, and a portrait of Muños Rojas by Cristóbal Toral.
The idea for a Dolmen Museum was first proposed back in 1985, so it was 31 years before the works began and 37 until it finally became a reality.
The delays have mainly been due to political differences. It was not until the authorities applied for the dolmen complex to become a World Heritage Site that the project was unblocked, because one of the conditions for its acceptance was that the building had to be adapted to fit in with the surroundings between Lovers' Rock and the Menga dolmen.
The Junta de Andalucía invested 4.5 million euros from EU funds to transform the outside of the museum building and equip the interior for exhibitions, conference and university research facilities, with views from the windows of the Lovers' Rock and the dolmen.
The museum and dolmen complex are expected to attract a great many tourists to the area.
"Antequera's dream has finally come true. The dolmens are now receiving true recognition of their immense importance," said Manuel Barón.