Surface Area: 810 square kilometres
What the natives are called: Antequeranos
Monuments: Renaissance fountain, Collegiate Church of San Sebastián, Convent of La Encarnación, Palace of Nájera-Town Museum, Convent of San José, Convent Museum of the Discalced Nuns, Palace of Marqueses de la Peña de los Enamorados, Convent of La Victoria (includes Museum and Chapel of Beata Madre Carmen del Niño Jesús), Convent (and Museum) of Santa Eufemia, Church of Santiago, Convent of Belén, Granada Gateway, Dolmens of Menga, Viera and El Romeral, Convent of San Zoilo, Church of El Carmen, Royal Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, Arco de los Gigantes (Giants’ Archway), Monument Site of the Alcazaba or Arab Fortress, Keep, Málaga Gateway, Chapel-Gallery of Virgen del Socorro, Church of Santa María de Jesús (includes Museum of the Brotherhood of Nuestra Señora del Socorro), Church of San Juan Bautista, Palace of Marqueses de las Escolanías, Church of Santo Domingo, Bullring, Municipal Bullfighting Museum, Legion Museum, Convent of San Agustín, Town Hall, Convent of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, El Torcal Natural Area, San Benito Museum of Customs and Traditions, Hojiblanca Olive Oil Museum, Church of San Pedro, Church of Santísima Trinidad, Church of San Miguel, Church of Capuchinos, Church of Recoletas, Church of Santa Catalina de Siena. (Antequera is one of the cities with the highest number of heritage sites in Andalusia; 75% of Málaga Province’s heritage is to be found here.)
Geographical Location: in the centre of the region that bears its name, in the northern part of the province of Málaga and 45 kilometres from the capital of Málaga. It lies 577 meters above sea level, average annual rainfall is 550 litres per square metre and the average temperature is 15.3º C
The very first thing the eye beholds as you start down towards the Antequera plains by way of the N-331 (A-45) expressway is a broad meadowland like an immense tapestry of different shades of green or ochre, depending on the season of your visit. To the right, the evocative Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Rock) with its legend of a doomed romance; straight ahead, gentle hills hem in the meadows, and to the left, below the crest of the El Torcal massif, Christian towers and Arab walls stand out from the brilliant white of the town.
Were the space not so large, you might think what you see is an ingenious artistic illusion. Even at that, this dazzlingly panoramic initial view does not reveal the treasure of monumental sites contained in Antequera, where every corner reverberates with a thousand-year-old Mediterranean culture forged by all the western civilisations.
The first settlers in this region left archaeological testimony of immense importance: the dolmens of Viera, Menga and Romeral, gigantic burial structures erected in the Bronze Age.
Although there is no precise data on the subject, it is believed that from this date forward these lands were always populated, among other reasons because its geographic location –in the territorial centre of Andalusia- is the natural crossroads between upper and lower Andalusia, making it possible for Iberians, Tartessians, Phoenicians and Carthaginians to pass through and settle here. Traces of the latter, in fact, have been found at Cerro León, where it seems that the battle between Hasdrubal’s Carthaginians and the Roman legions took place.
Bathhouses, villas, sculptures, ceramics, mosaics, and column shafts and capitals from the Roman period have been turning up throughout the Antequera area in recent years as clear proof of its ancient splendour.
The city owes its present name to the Romans. It derives from the ancient Antikaria, a name that would be retained by the Arabs who, under the command of Abdelaziz Ben Muza, conquered it in the eighth century. Many traces of the Roman era remain, both in Antequera proper and in the nearby towns of Arastepi and Singilia Barba, which are considered among the most important of Roman Málaga.
The Arabs extended and strengthened the town, building the Alcazaba fort and surrounding the Medina with a wall. It became a strategic point after the capture of Seville and Jaén by the Christian troops who, under the command of the Infante (Crown Prince) Don Fernando, finally entered Antequera in 1410.
After being granted several royal favours, Antequera began to experience growth that would arrive at its peak in the second half of the sixteenth century and that in some ways was maintained until the eighteenth. During this long interval, the town was enriched with an extraordinary artistic heritage –primarily churches and convents but also outstanding secular structures- that is responsible for the present appearance of its historic urban centre.
An epidemic of yellow fever and the Napoleonic invasion decimated the town at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was already showing signs of exhaustion, but with those bad times behind it a new and vigorous middle class appeared, supported by a thriving textile industry, that gave new life to its economy and society. This powerful industrial sector was to succumb in the twentieth century and it would not be until the last third of this century that the town, now linked by a good transportation and communications network with the rest of Andalusia, again entered a period of clear economic expansion, and it is still in full swing.
The quickest way from Málaga to Antequera is by the N-331 (A-45) expressway. Once you arrive at the Antequera lowlands, take the A-354, and after 2 kilometres, you will enter the urban area of Antequera.
Full graphical path: http://bit.ly/nSBdEV
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Costa del Sol Tourist Board - Plaza de la Marina, nº4 - 29015 Málaga - Tel: +34952126272 - Fax: +34952225207 - firstname.lastname@example.org