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Few places can boast of having a historical and cultural heritage as rich as that of Antequera. Deep in the heat of Andalusia, this city is host to over fifty monuments and archaeological sites of extraordinary importance.
To walk around Antequera is to go back in time. A glorious history that has left its mark in stately homes, churches and convents of the most varied styles, a Muslim fortress and a prehistoric ensemble that has been declared a World Heritage Site. The municipality also has one of the most astounding natural parks in the province of Malaga and in the whole of Spain, El Torcal.
In addition to all of these riches, Antequera is also a transport hub that connects the region with the rest of Andalusia (here you can find the old route taken by Washington Irving, the American romantic author and traveller). Today it also has a high-speed train station in the greater municipal area. To sum up, it is has all of the facilities that the most demanding tourist could wish for. Antequera Golf Club, for instance, offers state-of-the-art facilities.
MUST-SEE SIGHTS IN ANTEQUERA
MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS
The Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor is the most emblematic religious building in Antequera. It was built in the 16th century and is considered Andalusia's foremost example of Renaissance architecture.
Dating back to the same period is the Colegiata de San Sebastián, with its unique blend of styles, the churches of San Juan, Santa María de Jesús and del Carmen, as well as the Real Monasterio de San Zoilo. The last of these houses a valuable art collection.
Among the religious buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries, the most outstanding are the churches of San Miguel, Santiago, San Pedro and los Capuchinos. All of these, however, have undergone subsequent restoration. Other examples of religious art in Antequera are the churches of Nuestra Señora de Loreto and San Juan de Dios, both fine instances of the Baroque. In a similar style are the convent chapels of Belén, Madre de Dios de Monteagudo and San José.
Antequera has many convents that were founded in the period from the 16th to the 17th centuries. The most outstanding is the Convento de Santo Domingo, with its handsome mudejar crafted features. Also well worth a visit are the convents of San Agustín, La Victoria, La Trinidad, La Encarnación, Santa Eufemia and Las Catalinas.
Two chapels, known as the "Capillas Tribuna" and the convent of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios complete the catalogue of religious buildings in the capital of Antequera county.
Walking around the city, we can also view several 16th and 17th century stately homes. This period also saw the construction of the San Juan de Dios Hospital and El Posito (the City Granary). These are two of the most outstanding public buildings in Antequera, as well as the Plaza de Toros (Bullring), opened in 1848, and the Town Hall, built on the site formerly occupied by a convent.
Among the buildings of the local nobility is the Palace of the Marquises of la Peña de los Enamorados and the Palace of the Marquise de las Escalonias. The City Museum is housed in the Palacio de Nájera. Its prize possession is the Ephebos of Antequera, an emblematic Roman sculpture.
A legacy of the Muslim period is the Alcazaba. Although originally erected in the 11th century as part of the city walls, the Papabellotas Tower and the Torre Blanca (White Tower) were built at a later date. A walk along the barbicans' passageway takes us close to the Arco de los Gigantes (Giants' Arch) built in 1585. Just behind this is the vantage point of Mirador de las Almenillas.
Antequera also has three monumental city gates (the Granada, Estepa, and Malaga Gates), a number of archaeological sites, ten museum spaces and five exhibition rooms. The City Museum, Museo Taurino - Bullfighting Museum - and Santa Eufemia Museum are some of the most interesting ones.
The Antequera Dolmens deserve a section all to themselves, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in recognition of their spectacular quality and magnificent state of conservation. An exceptional example of megalithic construction, the Menga Dolmen is six thousand years old. It is an enormous passage tomb whose passage is formed by huge slabs of rock that lead to the burial chamber. The Viera Dolmens and El Romeral complete the prehistoric ensemble.
Antequera is only 45 kilómetros from Málaga, making it a 50-minute drive from Málaga city. Take the A-45 motorway and get off at exit 149.
Eight kilometres from Antequera is Lobo (Wolf) Park, a theme park andthe only one of its kind in Andalusia. Here you can see specimens of European wolves of a number of sub-species, which live on its 40 hectares of grounds.
The Torcal de Antequera is the municipality's premier natural attraction. This is an area of 1,170 hectares in which Nature has carved the limestone rock at will over millions of years. The result is impressive: a forest of stone filled with bizarre shaped formations, such as El Tornillo del Torcal, officially declared a Natural Monument. The natural park has two walking and hiking trails, as well as a visitors' centre.
There is a recreational area and artificial lake near the source of the Rio de la Villa river, at the foot of the Torcal. This tributary of the Guadalhorce River leaves the municipality via the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (Gaitanes Pass) with vast reservoirs on every side.
Eight walking trails allow you to get to know the Antequera region, which includes places as remarkable as the Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers' Rock) whose profile from a distance bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a man lying on his back and facing the sky.
Antequera also offers a host of opportunities to do adventure activities and active forms of tourism. There are a number of companies in the area that organize bike trips in natural surroundings, horse riding and pony trekking, as well as expeditions in all-terrain jeeps.
Holy Week in Antequera is one of the most particular in Andalusia, with its unique traditions such as the ""correr la vega"". This is a race between teams up steeply sloping streets carrying ""thrones"" with sacred images to a high vantage point, where they are used to bless the land. Officially declared a Festival of ""Touristic Interest"" by the Government of Andalusia, Antequera Holy Week is also notable for the value of the carved figures that take part in the procession, most of which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Real Feria de Agosto (Royal August Fair), first held in 1748, is the summer's major event. A packed programme includes concerts, bullfights and activities for all tastes. During the day, the festival spirit floods the streets of the town centre and the fair enclosure, where the fiesta goes on all night. The Real Feria de Agosto has been declared officially as an event of ""National Touristic Interest"".
Three months before, in May, it's time for the Spring Fair and Agrogant, an agricultural and livestock show which the local authorities have declared to be ""of Provincial Touristic Interest"". It features exhibits of local produce, a machinery exhibition, a livestock auction and a horse competition, among many other activities.
Other important events are the feast day of La Virgen de los Remedios and El Dia de Jeva. The latter of these, also officially an event of National Touristic Interest, takes place on Christmas Day. Residents from several parishes meet at the shrine of the Virgin of the Purification, where a ""battle of the bands"" takes place between the ""pandas de verdiales"", followed by a tasting of shortbread washed down with ""aguardiente"" (a strong alcoholic spirit) and a procession.
The produce from the grassy plain of the Veda de Antequera are the basis for the traditional gastronomy of the area. No local kitchen would be without its cereals, vegetables and olive oil.
The symbol of the local cuisine is the cold soup known as porra, (a refreshing cream of tomato soup with extra virgin olive oil, red peppers and breadcrumbs, garnished with boiled egg, tuna or ham). The classic local dessert is the bienmesabe, made from almonds and fantastically sweet. In addition, no breakfast would be complete without the mollete de Antequera, one of the most incredible kinds of bread you will ever have tasted. When toasted, it seems as if it has just come out of the oven. Another recommendation: for breakfast try a mollete with chicharrones (lard with shredded pork garnished with a simply sublime blend of spices).
The city is also renowned for its vast choice when it comes to tapas and the fame of its Christmas confectioneries made in traditional ovens and in the cloisters of its convents.
Antequera has been at the crossroads of civilisations since prehistoric times. The most important archaeological remains are the Dolmens of Menga, Viera and El Romeral, dating from the Bronze Age. The Romans founded three settlements in the area: Antikaria, Singilia Barba and Acilia Plecusa. The Antequera Ephebos, a bronze statue from the first century AD is considered to be one of the finest Roman sculptures found in Spain.
In the days of the Arabs, Madina Antaquira grew into a powerful population centre and a strong frontier fortress. From the Kingdom of Castile, it looked as the gateway to Granada, which led to several attempts to seize it. In the end, the town fell to Infant Don Ferdinand in 1410.
In the sixteenth century, Antequera was one of the largest cities in Andalusia, with intense business activity. The Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor was built in those years, and a Chair of Grammar and Latin Studies was established which saw brilliant students like Juan de Vilches or Pedro Espinosa. The presence of scholars revolutionised the cultural life of the village.
New churches like San Sebastián, San Pedro or San Juan Bautista were added to Antequera"s existing religious heritage. The development of religious architecture had a lot to do with the activity of the religious orders that had their convents set up in the village. Meanwhile, civil architectural landmarks like the the Giants" Archway were erected too.
The Palace of the Marquis of La Peña de los Enamorados and the Plaza de San Sebastián also date from the sixteenth century. It is one of the most beautiful corners in Antequera, with valuable, iconic buildings. In the middle of the square there is a beautiful Renaissance fountain.
The buildings raised in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are in the Mannerist and Baroque styles: the tower of the Collegiate Church of San Sebastián and the Churches of La Trinidad, Santo Domingo and Nuestra Señora de Loreto. They can be recognised for their rolling plasterwork, brick façades and elaborate interiors.
From this period date most palaces: Nájera, Marquise of Escalonias, Marquis of Villadarias, and the mansions of Pardo, Colarte, the Baron of Sabasona and the Count of Pinofiel. This kind of architecture inspired the design of Antequera"s noble houses.
An outbreak of yellow fever and Napoleon"s invasion of Spain decimated the local population in the nineteenth century. The affluent bourgeoisie, however, associated with the textile industry, revitalised the town"s social and economic life before the sector"s decline in the twentieth century. In the last three decades of the past century, Antequera was linked to the rest of Andalusia via a modern transport network and this resulted in a new period of economic expansion.
Antequera was the place chosen to write the Andalusian Federal Constitution of 1883 and to sign the Autonomy Pact in 1987.
Legend has it…: Lovers" Rock
According to legend, a young Christian boy captured in Granada was bought as a slave by a Moorish family. He fell in love with the landlord"s daughter and they eloped. The girl"s father went after them with his retinue, forcing them into a corner, with their backs against the rock. Unable to save their love, the young couple plunged off the top of the rock, embracing each other.
Crops from the Vega de Antequera serve as the basis for its traditional cuisine. Your pantry can’t lack grains, vegetables and olive oil.
The most traditional dish is the porra antequerana, a nutritious cold soup similar to salmorejo. When it comes to dessert it’s the bienmesabe, made with cinnamon, almond and citron syrup. Plus, you have to start every breakfast with the mollete de Antequera.
The city’s also renowned for its infinite abilities to enjoy tapas the traditional Christmas pastries from traditional bakeries and cloistered convents.
- Inhabitants (25,001-50,000)
- Historic monuments
- Inland area