by Robert Bovington
Antequera, as its name suggests, is old – so old that the Romans named it Antiquaria. Bronze Age burial grounds are to be found in the north-eastern outskirts of the town – the Dólmen de Menga and the Dólmen de Viera are said to be the largest such structures in Europe.
Antequera has such a wealth of historic buildings and structures that it is a microcosm of the area as a whole. There are Roman remains including villas and baths. From the times of Moorish rule there is the Alcazaba, which unfortunately is closed to the public – understandable really since it is in ruins.
If you like looking at churches, you will like Antequera because it has quite a few including the Iglesia Señora del Carmen. There are twenty-eight churches in all but the finest of the religious buildings is the 16th century Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, which has been designated a national monument. In fact, the whole of Antequera’s old town has been placed under a preservation order.
Between the 16th and 18th centuries a number of interesting palaces were built. One of them, the Palacio de N’ajera, houses a fine museum – the Museo Municipal.
There are many other attractive and historic buildings in Antequera including the bullring – considered one of the most attractive in Spain – and the Arco de los Gigantes. It is called this because it is a rather large arch. The ruins of the Alcazaba can be reached by strolling through this magnificent 16th century structure, which was erected in honour of Philip II, and partly constructed of inscribed Roman masonry.
Because of all this splendid architecture and because the city’s museums hold a large proportion of the art and antiquarian artefacts to be found in the province of Málaga, Antequera has acquired the nickname ‘el corazón de Andalucía’ – the heart of Andalucía. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that it is situated between Málaga, Granada, Córdoba, and Sevilla. It is only twenty-two miles from Málaga, however, so forget about the beaches of the Costa del Sol and visit Antequera.
Between Málaga and Antequera is the Parque Natural del Torcal – a nature spot popular with climbers. Nearby is a saltwater lagoon, the Fuente de Piedra, where flamingos can be seen. Also nearby is the Garganta del Chorro where torrents of foaming water from the Guadalhorce River force their way through a narrow gorge. So if superb architecture doesn’t make you leave the beaches of Torremolinos and Fuengirola perhaps spectacular natural spaces will!