September 3rd, 2010
Situated in the geographical heart of Andalucia, is the city of Antequera. Called ‘Anticaria’ by the Romans – the old city, Antequera is a town that feels almost lost in time, carefully preserving its age-old charms.
Known as the city of Spires for its many Churches and with Antequera’s museums housing approximately 80% of all the art treasures in the province of Malaga, there is no shortage of things to see and do. Here is short selection of some of Antquera’s highlights.
“May the sun come out in Antequera”
Now a popular saying across Spain “Salga el sol por Antequera,” it serves as an inspiration for people to face up to whatever challenges life presents them.
During the early parts of 15C, Antequera found itself under Moorish domination. The Christian troops were continuing their advance southwards conquering large swathes of Andalucia. Unsure what would be the best course of action Fernando de Aragon was witness to an apparition of a beautiful young lady surrounded by Lions, who said to him “Tomorrow, may the sun come up in Antequera and may whatever God ordains happen.”
Christian troops conquered the city the next day – 16 September 1410. The town thrived between 16C and 18C as is evident by the wealth of civil and religious buildings dating from this time.
Pena de los Enamorados
Pena de los Enamorados – Lover’s rock – sits beween Antequera and Archidona. An Andalucian version of Romeo and Juliet, the legend tells of Tagzona, the daughter of a Moorish leader, who has fallen hopelessly in love with Tello, a young Christian, who was imprisoned at the time.
They decided to elope. While escaping from prison, they were discovered by the Moorish guards who gave chase, with Tagzona’s father in the lead. Climbing to the top of the rock formation they realised they was no escape. Surrounded on all sides and rather than face separation they decided to jump to their deaths together.
Christopher Columbus, while discovering the New World, gave the rock formation further notoriety by writing he had discovered something very similar to the Pena de los Enamorados.
Palace of Najera
Home to the municipal museum and the Ephebus of Antequera. Without a doubt one of the finest examples of Roman status that has been found. Discovered in 1955 and only made public in 1963, the find caused a stir with archaeologists all over the world. The full scale statue dates from 1C and is made bronze. It represents a young man under going military training whose hands appear to carrying an object that has since disappeared. There have only been six discoveries of these statues in Europe and the one is in Antequera is the most intact.
The Alcazaba, fortress, offers spectacular views of the Sierra de Torcal, the Antequeran plain and of the city itself. Despite being the first fortress in the Kingdom of Granada to be conquered by the Christians, it fell into Muslim hands shortly afterwards. The 15C walls were rebuilt reusing Roman materials. The carefully maintained gardens are an ideal place for a stroll and to watch the sunset.
Real Colegiata de Santa Maria Church
Standing at the foot of the Alcazaba gardens. The 16C collegiate Church is a fine example of the early Renaissance. Access is via the Arco de los Gigantes (Giant’s arch). The Church is now used for cultural events.
Church of San Sebastian
Built in 1548, by Diego de Vergara. In 1692 it became a Colegiata, the most important church of the city. Despite being Renaissance in style, it has a Baroque bell tower and a Neoclassicist interior. A 15C sculpture of the Virgin of Hope is of particular note.
San Juan de Dios Church
Finished at the end of the 18C. The Order of the Padres Hospitalarios de San Juan de Dios also constructed the adjacent hospital, which was closed in 1999. Using stone from the ruins of the Roman city of Singilia Barba for its construction. The interior of the Church is considered one of the gems of Baroque Andalucia.
Los Remedios Convent
The 17C Church is dedicated to the patron saint of Antequera, the Virgin de los Remedios. The main alter piece was completed in 18C, by Antonio Rivera and is considered one of the best in Antequera.
The Dolmens of Antequera
Almost at the entrance to Antequera (A354 leaving Antequera and left onto the N331 – signposted) you find the Dolmens, megaliths from the Copper Age (2500 – 1800 B.C.). The Menga Dolmen is the best example in Europe and dates from 2500 B.C. The Viera Dolmen is from 2000 B.C. The Romeral Dolmen is from 1800 B.C. There are three rooms, a gallery, a burial chamber and a chamber for offerings.
El Torcal National Park
Situated just outside of Antequera is the El Torcal National Park. Possessing some of Spain’s most unusual scenery, it makes a fantastic outing. For more information, see El Torcal Natural reserve