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City of Antequera

Historical Profile

The antiquity of Antequera goes back at least five thousand years, the time of the construction of the dolmens of Menga, Viera and El Romeral. And it may even be older if clues based on earlier eras and found in the excavations that take place in the Cueva del Toro, in the Sierra del Torcal, are confirmed.

The prehistoric dolmens are very close to the city: those of Menga and Viera in a garden enclosure, next to the city, on the Málaga-Granada road that of the Romeral, a little further, on the same road, near the sugar refinery.

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Many remains of the Roman period are preserved. In the Giant Arc you can see various ruins of the municipalities of Antikaria, Singilia and Nescania, and at the Municipal Museum, interesting objects are exhibited like the "Ephébe d'Antequera ".

There are also traces of the Arab Antakira, like the Castle crowning the city. The Muslim city suffered several sieges but it was the child Ferdinand "that of Antequera", who conquered it in 1410 after five months of a very hard siege. This event marked the beginning of the growth of the Christian Antequera that emerged from the narrow walls of the Castle and spread over the plain and formed the present city, with important civil and religious constructions of Renaissance and Baroque style. This last style and the popular neighborhoods characterized by whitewashed facades and remarkable cleanliness, define Antequera and make it one of the most beautiful cities of Andalusia. After the conquest of the Arab city, the city experienced some difficult years until the consolidation of the conquest after that of Málaga and Granada.

In the shelter of its economic prosperity and its religious faith, several orders came to settle there throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

They raised magnificent churches and convents of which there are outstanding examples. Some noble families of the conquest also settled in the city and built magnificent palaces and mansions.

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The city

The current town is located in the north of the Sierra del Torcal, on the left bank of the Guadalhorce, river that borders the city and waters its fertile land.

With more than forty thousand inhabitants, it is one of the main cities of the province of Malaga. Despite its proximity to Malaga and the Costa del Sol, it is separated from the coast by a mountainous barrier, the Sierra del Torcal, and its climate is cold in winter and dry and hot in summer.

Its exceptional geographical location, 46 kilometers from Malaga and with significantly shorter distances to the main Andalusian capitals, Cordoba, Seville and Granada, make it a kind of symbiosis of the way of being four big cities. It is an authentic rural capital where all agricultural, livestock and secondary service sector activities in the region are concentrated.

It was formerly of great industrial importance and the manufacture of famous "Antequera cover". There was also a tanning industry.

Currently, these activities, virtually disappeared, have their renewal in the industrial polygon industries. The development is slow but the future is promising.

In the Christmas period, the famous cakes with lard, gimblettes, gingerbreads, etc. are still made here and for centuries have made known to the world the name of Antequera.

Agricultural activities focus on growing olives, which cover large expanses and also that of various cereals in addition to the entire irrigation crop.

Main monuments

El Arco de los Gigantes (The Arc of the Giants) is an interesting construction of 1585, made with the intention of placing on these walls a series of stones with inscriptions and statues, witnesses of the greatness of the city and of other municipalities in the region during Roman rule.

It is for this reason that it is considered the first Museum of Roman antiquities in Spain.

In May 1985 his 400th anniversary was commemorated and the remains of epigraphic and sculpturaland sculptural that had been collected at the Municipal Museum.

Several walls and towers of the Arab Castle are preserved. The towers are la Blanca and that of the tribute.

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It bears the legendary Papabellotas clock and is covered by a small Renaissance temple that houses the city bell. All these buildings are surrounded by a park with garden, open to the public, from which we overlook beautiful views of the city and the surface. There are other ruins like l'Arc de l'Etoile and that of the Water and la Porte de Malaga (Hermitage of the Virgin of Espera).

The Gate of Malaga or Hermitage of the Virgin of Espera is located in the lower zone of the castle and turned towards the river of the city. It used to belong to the second enclosure of the Alcazaba. It was united to the Blanca Tower by a series of walls now disappeared. Its function was that of communication between the fortified enclosure and the exterior through a brick horseshoe arch. Later the structure was modified when it became hermitage. Inside, a small altarpiece bears the Virgin of Espera.

Municipal Museum

The Municipal Museum is housed in Nájera Palace, a magnificent 18th century building with the most beautiful tower-belvedere in Antequera. The museum exhibits very interesting objects, such as the Ephébe d'Antequera, a unique bronze sculpture of the century I, discovered by chance in a field, representing a naked teenager and who is, without any doubt, the most beautiful ancient object found on the peninsula". His simple contemplation justifies a trip to Antequera.

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In archeology we must also mention the marble bust of Drusus, portrait of a Roman prince of the century I.

In the various rooms of the Museum are exhibited paintings as famous as Bocanegra, Mohedano and the Mexican Juan Correa. Sixteen paintings by Cristóbal Toral, the son of Antequera, one of the best contemporary painters, can also be admired.

Several sculptures are distributed in the rooms. Let us note especially the one representing Saint Frangois of Assisi, work of the big picture Pedro de Mena.

The goldsmith's collection is very important. It includes, in addition to what has already been mentioned, capes of virgins, artistic objects of the Brotherhoods of Holy Week, altarpieces, furniture, etc.

There is, in the basement, a small collection of objects of popular habits and customs.

The whole is completed by important Archives and a modern Library.

The Museum is open to the public in the morning, every day except Monday.

The churches of Antequera

Contemplated from the heights, the city is a spectacle of towers and steeples of twenty or so churches that punctuate the urban landscape. Let's mention the most important ones:

Royal Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor. Built between 1514 and 1550 it was described as "the first Renaissance church that was built in Andalusia". Because of its proportions and design, it can be described as monumental. Its interesting fagade, which according to the experts was copied by Alonso Cano for the Cathedral of Granada, is divided into three axes and two bodies. The semicircular arch of the central door is surprising. Its height contrasts with that of the two lateral arches. After a blinded balustrade, the facade is crowned by a frontispiece with striated pinnacles, the interior, very large, is basilical, with three naves and grandiose Iconic Renaissance columns and an important Mudejar coffered ceiling. In the past few years there has been major restoration work and is often used to play concerts.

Carmen Church. Although the work of the Church and the Discalced Carmelite Convent (now extinct) began at the end of the 16th century, the work continued for many years. The construction is of a single nave with side chapels backed.

Note its splendid Mudejar coffered ceiling from the early 17th century and the magnificent large chapel with three Baroque altarpieces. The two sides are gilded and the central, very large and full of columns, angels and saints who decorate and cover all the spaces that could be free. It is in non-gilded wood and it is "a decadent example of the Andalusian Baroque style, badly called Churrigueresque".

Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church.

This church is next to the current City Hall (former Franciscan convent) and forms a set with it. It is a work of the 17th century. The work was long. Its form is the one of a Latin cross, with side chapels.

The whole area of ​​the church is decorated, practically, with various paintings. Note the high altar, gilded, baroque extreme, built in the eighteenth century, with several images and, in the central niche, the holder, the Virgin "of the Remedios, Patroness of Antequera.

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Collegiate Church of San Sebastián. At the end of the 17th century this church became from Santa María, the Collegiate Church. Its facade is fully Renaissance and its beautiful baroque brick tower with terracotta decorations is due to Francisco Andrés Burgueño. The exterior of this church, the beautiful Renaissance fountain of the square, the Arc of Nueva Street and the Castle landscape at the top, form one of the most beautiful urban complexes of Antequera.

Other interesting churches. Although they are worthy of interest and an independent paragraph, due to the space we have to quote the most interesting ones which are those of Saint-François, Déchaussées, Bethlehem, Mother of God, Saint-Jean-de-France. God, etc. whose architectural richness and the artistic objects they contain form a group of first quality.

Palace and mansions

Although some, very interesting, have disappeared, we can still admire very important. The Palace of the Marquis de la Peña is 16th century. The Palace of the Marquises of Escalonias, the Municipal Palace and the House of the Pardo (Hispano-Americano Bank) are of the 17th century. The Palace of Nájera (Municipal Museum), the House of Pinofiel, the House of Colchado's Tales, the Palace of Villadarias, the House of the Colarte (House-Museum) and the House of Sabasona are 18th century. The House of the Barons of Sarailler (work of Anibal González), the building of the Caisse d'Espargne d'Antequera and the Theater-Cinema Torcal date from the nineteenth century, more concretely from the thirties.

The prehistoric dolmens

Very close to the city are the so-called Menga Caves, Viera and El Romeral, which make up the largest group of dolmens in Europe and show us how, in the fertile valley of Guadalhorce, settled large populations, already five thousand years ago. These are funerary constructions, erected on huge stones and later covered with earth. We only see a slight promontory in the landscape. We will talk in more detail about each of them:

Menga Dolmen. It is the largest and oldest of the three and has been known since very distant times. It has been called "the most magestic and best preserved of the prehistoric world". It dates back to the year 2500av. J. -C.

The oval room is 25 meters long, a maximum width of 6. 5 meters and a height of 2. 70 meters.

The construction began with a gallery, now incomplete, which gives access to a large room; this is in turn composed of seven large vertical stones on each side, plus that of closure, at the bottom. The cover is formed by four enormous slabs very large and very heavy. It was calculated that the last weighed 180 tons.

In the centre of the room, three monoliths fill a theoretical support function of the cover.

Viera Dolmen. It is very close to that of Menga and owes its name to the brothers Viera, municipal gardeners who discovered it in 1905. It is not as big as that of Menga but the neat decoration of its stones makes us think of a logic architectural evolution that give it the meadows of one hundred years of difference in the construction of one and the other.

It has a long corridor that leads to the sepulchral hall of cubic form and meadows of two meters side. The stone from the back of this room was pierced at an indefinite time by "treasure hunters".

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Dolmen of the Romeral. It was also discovered in 1905 by the Viera brothers. It is very interesting because it possesses a circular sepulchral hall of 5, 20 m diameter, closed by a false dome vault, first European copy of this kind of construction and which follows the model of that of the Treasure of Atreus in Mycenae.

Throughout the access corridor and in the sepulchral hall, we can observe the evolution of the building over time, which made use on the walls no longer of large slabs but flat stones united by mud. However, the stones of the cover are very large. This and other details have dated the building to 1800 BC. J. -C.

Connected to the great hall by a small corridor, there is another room of the same structure, although much smaller, having an altar to make the offerings, according to the funerary rites.

The legend of the lover rock

A small hill is at the edge with Archidona. His profile resembles that of a sphynx. He was a silent witness to the tragic end of the love affairs of a young Christian from Annquera with a Moor of Archidona. Faced with the impossibility of sealing their love because they were surrounded by two antagonistic and hostile worlds, they fled on horseback pursued by the Moorish troops, until they were surrounded by the Peña (Rock). Before surrendering and being separated for life, young lovers preferred to be united in the other life and in an embrace of love, they threw themselves into the precipice.

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The Sierra del Torcal

Although the extent of the Sierra del Torcal is almost 30 square kilometers, the top Torcal, where the tourist attractions are, does not exceed 20 square kilometers.

You can go to this place, whose destruction through words or writings is very difficult, following a 13 km road that leads to a refuge where there is an inn.

With altitudes of over 1300 meters, this is an impressive place where the rain shower and other geological agents have modelled a dreamy landscape, given it a phantasmagorical aspect, with forms that remind people of things or beings, the ruins of a Parasian, Aztec or Hindu city, or the destroyed walls of a medieval castle, all surrounded by a. awesome silence only troubled by the singing of birds.

In 1929 it was declared "National Tourist-Interest Site" and more recently, in 1978, "Natural Park". It is thus protected against the possible aggressions as well to its landscape as to its fauna. Official bodies have initiated an action plan for this protection. As for flora, there are only a few trees that are limited to areas with difficult access. The shrubs are abundant there. There are hawthorns, blackthorns, honeysuckle and especially ivy that embellish the big rocks.

The various classes of birds and reptiles, rabbits, etc. They are abundant, and in a small number we find the wild goat where we can make fire and another where we can camp. Three routes were also created for the visitors: the yellow-green, the yellow and the red, which successively increase the length of the journey, which normally lasts 45 minutes, 2 hours and 3 hours 30 minutes respectively.

You can make a short visit from the Refuge, following the unfinished path, to an area close to Las Ventanillas from where you can enjoy the Mediterranean landscape and, on clear days, the Malaga coast.

Religious festivals

Holy Week is celebrated with solemnity, with parades, processions full of singularity, richness and traditions. Through various invitations, beautiful Virgins and painful Christs are carried on the shoulders of the "hermanacos", who inherit their title from grandfather to grandson. All these processions rise on the coasts which are mounted at a gallop, bearing on the episodes the very heavy thrones or stretchers. It is an unusual spectacle and one only sees in Antequera. He is known as "dar la vega". September 16 commemorates the conquest of the city, the feast of St. Euphemia. The previous night we lit candelas in which we wanted to see the war scenes of that time. Also in September is the feast of the Virgen de los Remedios, Patroness of Antequera. Finally, it is worth mentioning that during the last days of May, the procession of the Señor de la Salud and Las Aguas, a deeply rooted religious event, takes place among the inhabitants of the city who, from the most distant places, visit the annual rendezvous to "enlighten the Lord".

Fairs and other popular events

There are two annual fairs: that of Printemps (May 31, June 1 and 2), and that of August (August 20, 21 and 22) with bull races, various shows of infantile attractions and fairy tales in which we dance and sing for most of the night. These are days of rest in daily toil and everyone tries to have as much fun as possible.

The horse also has a place in the fairs. There are many riders on the parade, wearing beautiful young girls dressed in typical costumes. We also see beautiful old landaux parade.

The song and the typical dance are the "fandango antequerano" whose recovery is visible, as well as that of the typical costume. The latter has proliferated during the last fairs and the young-girls who wear it in the parades carosses or in other places of fun, are very numerous. We also see the typical gypsy costume, traditational throughout Andalusia.

During the infantile festivals, there is the cuieuse tradition of "matar la vieja", (to kill the old woman), doll in rag, full of sweets and sweets which, hanging from a rope, is lowered and raised and ended up being rolled of the children who try to get their share of the precious booty in a fun struggle.

Gourmet food

It cooks all the typical dishes of all Andalusia, such as gazpacho, fries and domestic pastries. We must mention the "porra antequerana" handmade "with a bowl and a hand of mortar", with bread crumbs, tomato, the good oil of the earth; the "guiso de patas", in which pigs' feet and other products of the killing of the pig are mixed with poischiches, all generously washed with Xéres wine.

The city pays tribute to this wine and consumes it in bars and taverns, accompanied by delicious "tapas" (pieces of ham, fish, etc. ). Among the desserts, note the "bienmesabe", a delicious cake made by the sisters, deep Arabic resonances, made of almonds, sugar, egg yolk and other secret ingredients and whose final recipe is not the reach only of expert hands and chosen.

During Christmas and the previous months, the city feels good because the factories of the typical "Mantecado de Antequera" are numerous. The preparation of this dessert is artisanal as well as gimblettes, gingerbread, etc.

Tours

Taking as a starting point Antequera, which owns various hotels and a Parador de Turismo (luxury hotel), one can visit, at two hours by car, the cities of Seville, Cordova and Granada. Malaga and Costa del Sol are only 45 minutes away.

On the road to Seville, at 18 km, is Fuente Piedra, with its famous lagoon of great ecological interest because the largest flemish colony of Spain resides there.

On the road to Granada, at 16 km, is Archidona, with its Plaza Ochavada. Some kilometers further is Riofrío where there is an important trout fish farm.

Going to Cordoba, 50 km away, is Lucena, with its wines and numerous factories of furniture and "velones". We recommend that you visit St. Matthew's Church.

At 80 km is Ronda "the city of Tajo (gorge)", magnificent architectural example of conjunction of seigniorial buildings and popular with the landscape. Its arenas are famous as well as the Balcony on the Tajo and Hotel Victoria, without forgetting its numerous monuments.


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