Antequera - Jewel in the Crown of Spain

Published on 22/03/2010 in Places of Interest

If you think you have seen all that Spain has to offer, or maybe you feel that it is a country able only to provide sun, sand, Sangria and silly hats on even sillier people, you need to think again. If you've been to Ronda, Alhaurin el Grande, Arcos, Frigiliana or one of the innumerable other white towns in Andalucia, and think you seen all you need to see, you are wrong. Antequera has lots more to offer you than any of the former.

AntequeraIf you like fine church architecture, or just fine buildings in beautiful surroundings, good food, great wine, nice people and the enjoyment of an ideal city break destination, this is where you might just have struck lucky! A city break in 'RealSpain' in Antequera will open your eyes to what Spain is really all about! With it's fabulous and manifold churches, ancient monuments and architecture, the historic city of Antequera, in the province of Malaga, Andalucia (Andalusia), in southern Spain, is truly a hidden gem.

It lies at the crossroads of major highways and train links between Granada - Malaga - Seville - Cordoba and Huelva. It is also on the main AVE high speed train link from Malaga to Madrid, and indeed, this makes the centre of Madrid, a mere 2 hours travelling time away. Antequera an ideal city break destination with it's proximity to some of Spain's most prominent historical cites, along with it's own abundance of some of the best sights and experiences in Spain.

Take for example it's many ancient and splendid churches, cathedrals and convents. These, along with the Domenes, (or pre-historic caves), the 'El Torcal Montagnes' (dramatic mountains with astounding antediluvian rock formations as well as incredible vistas of the Costa Del Sol over 50 kilometres distant), make the city a place to visit time and time again.

Antequera 2Antequera, as well as being one of the best kept towns in Andalucia, is also one of Spain's best kept secrets! As Washington Irving was once said to have remarked - "A visit to this historical Andalucían town is a journey almost 5,000 years back through time, beginning with the Bronze Age and the original native Iberians". With it's ancient burial mounds, dolmenes, Roman baths, Moorish Fortress, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains and baroque bell towers, Antequera is indutiably a fascinating and remarkable city. 

Driving from Malaga, and the nearest international airport along the A45 autovia, your first glimpses of Antequera and 'The Indian rock' evoke feeings that cannot be explained. Maybe the fact that Antequera is not just another typical white Spanish medieval town begins to permeate the senses. The towering spires of the many ancient churches and the walls and towers of the great Moorish Alcazaba dominate the town, whilst sprawling across the valleys below are rich farmlands and olive groves watered by the Guadalhorce River.

Antequera is a step back in time, and yet it's blend of modernity is there to be seen. For over a 1000 years this has been one of Andalucía's most productive areas, and a leading provider of olives, asparagus and cereal crops. In summer, its fields are abundant with yellow sunflowers. The town and ferile valley are overlooked by an enormous peak of rock, called La Peña de los Enamorados, or "The Lovers' Leap".

The name derives from the well known local legend about a doomed love affair between a young Christian lad from Antequera and a beautiful Moorish lass from Archidona nearby. Legend has it that "they were pursued to the top of the cliff by Moorish soldiers, where, rather than forsake their love, for each other, they chose to fling themselves to their deaths into the chasm hundreds of metres below". - On a lighter note, the feature is known by many of the expat locals as the 'Indian Rock', because of it's resemblance to the face in profile of a North American native. Well worth a visit for a day, week or even longer if you are a golfer. Antequera hosts one of the best Golf courses in the region, along with it's own 4 star hotel.

If you prefer something a little more flexible and a lot less costly, try self-catering accommodation in Antequera. Try to find somewhere in the city, and, preferably in the 'Zona Antiguo', it is right in the midst of many of Spain's most ancient buildings and monuments, such as the Alcazaba, which originates back to Moorish Spain, and close to all amenities including, fine restaurants, tapas bars, cafes and shops and stores.

Written by: Don Roman

About the author:

The author and his wife decided on early retirement to Spain over eight years ago, and after many happy years on the coast, they got fed up of the 'mad' development and moved inland to the city of Antequera. Though there has been an abundance of development in and around the town, it is nothing compared to some of the towns and cities along the Spanish Costas.

Also, much of the re-development being done in the central areas is sympathetically in tune with the original architecture. The new town hall or Ayuntemiento for example, which very tastefully achieves the blend of old and modern. The city as well as retaining it's historical ambience, is very go-ahead and as well as getting the high speed AVE train service, which offers MADRID in less than 2 hours, is also planning to open a new airport in 2012.

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