The historic Andalucían town of Antequera is set on a rich, fertile plain and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It is a very pleasant city, where people don't seem to have had their natural friendliness extinguished by over-exposure to the multitude of UK visitors.
The town's historic past is easily appreciated by visiting a wide range of attractions - there are Roman baths, a Moorish Castle, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains, burial mounds (dolmens) and baroque bell towers.
The town and valley are overlooked by an enormous crag of limestone, called La Peña de los Enamorados, or "The Lovers' Leap". The name comes from a local legend about an impossible love affair between a young Christian man from Antequera and a beautiful Moorish girl from nearby Archidona, who were driven to the top of the cliff by the Moorish soldiers, where, rather than renounce their love, they chose to hurl themselves into the abyss. This will soon be a major attraction for climbers as well because these awesome rock walls now have a good collection of routes - 80m ropes and plenty of stamina needed.
The Dolmens in Antequera are considered to be the finest example of megalithic construction in Europe and date back to the Copper Age 4500 years ago. These mass tombs, made of huge slabs of rock weighing up to 180 tonnes, were created by the original Iberian people. There are many such dolmens in Andalucía, but none as large as the Cueva de la Menga. When it was excavated in the nineteenth century, many hundreds of skeletons were found in its inner chamber. They were discovered in 1905 by a local gardener and are now open to the public.
The Antequera Lobo Park (Wolf Park) is a great attraction. There are four large enclosures of Iberian wolves, European wolves, Timber wolves and the very rare white Alaska - Tundra Polar wolf.
The Park covers an area of 40 hectares, and is protected with many rare plants and animal species. There are noble Andalucian horses available for riding and also a petting zoo with different animals for children.
Fuente de Piedra (approx 15km from Antequera) is one of the largest salt water lagoons in Spain and it becomes home to 1000's of migrating flamingos during early Spring. The area however, is protected, so although you can walk and drive around the lagoon, you can't get to close There is a Visitors Centre that has a clear view to the lake and gives information about the 100's of different bird species that can be found in the area.
Hojiblanca is one of the oldest Olive Oil producing companies in Spain and their headquarters are on the outskirts of Antequera, where they have recently finished building their own museum dedicated to the heritage of olive oil production.It has many artifacts including an impressive 17th century beam press and plots production history using scale models of implements and presses. Produce is available to sample and buy too. ·
El Torcal Park Nature Reserve has 17 square km of some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe. It is a popular venue for walkers and climbers which is located on the outskirts of Antequera near the village of Villanueva de la Concepción.
The whole area was under sea until one hundred million years ago, then violent movements in the Earth's crust forced it upward to form hills and mountains up to 1.300 m high. The limestone had a layered horizontal formation that over millions of years has been eroded by the rain and wind to form incredible shapes.
There are three routes through the park for walkers which have been marked out with different coloured arrows on wooden sticks. The green route is the shortest and easiest, 1,5 km. and takes about 30 minutes. The yellow route covers most of the green area, is 2,5 km. long and takes you to "Las Ventanillas" The Windows, at 1.200 m. for panoramic views of the valley of Málaga. Finally the red route is the longest and most difficult, 4,5 km. taking about three hours, with a viewing point 1.339 m. up where you can see the whole of the El Torcal Park and, on a clear day, the Africa Coastline. The park now also has two Via Ferrata routes.
The town of Archidona once ruled over a lot of the surrounding area including Villanueva de Rosario and dates back to prehistoric times, as proven by important archaeological findings from the Palaeolithic period
Initially settled by the Turdulo tribe, around 1,500 B.C. and then by the Phoenicians who it is believed began building the town walls. When finished, these made the town very difficult to conquer so that during the Roman period it was known as "Arx Dómina". The Moors finally named it "Medina Arxiduna", from which it gets its present name. It then became a major centre of commerce with periods of both great affluence and also recession until the town we know today began to take shape in the 16th century.
The village’s long and eventful history, coupled with the desire of its inhabitants to preserve the artistic heritage born of the key role played by the village down the years, has resulted in Archidona being declared a Village of Historical and Artistic Importance
Plaza Ochavada Situated right in the centre of the town, the Plaza Ochavada is one of Andalucía¹s jewels of Baroque architecture. It was built in 1786 by the local master builders Antonio González Sevillano and Francisco Astorga Frías, who proposed an original structure octagonal in form of French origin, in which the common Andalusian patio style was incorporated into a classical style.
In the interior one can see the marvelous harmony of red brick and white walls, a common feature of present-day design in the town. Another sight worth seeing is the Plaza de la Victoria, the centre of life in the town. Here there are three important buildings: the Town Hall, the old granary, or Cilla, with its stone Baroque entrance and the Iglesia de la Victoria.
Archidona is not only a beautiful and historic town, but is also rich in natural surroundings, allowing for rural tourism at its best and a full range of trekking, cycling and general mountain activities.
There are two nature trails worth noting in particular: the Hoz del Arroyo Marín and the Lagunas (lakes) de Archidona. The Lagunas Grande y Chica (Big and Small Lakes) of Archidona have been officially declared a nature reserve of Andalucía. It is a humid area of salt water, rich in sulphate's and of high ecological value.