Antequera

All those who aspire to learn about the quintessence of Andalucía is obliged to visit the city of Antequera. To walk through its streets and admire its splendid architecture is both aesthetically and spiritually pleasing for the lover of beauty and tradition. At about 45 kilometres from Málaga and with a population in the heart of a rich, fertile plain, this has been populated since distant times.

Already in its surroundings, we find the most spectacular landscape of “La Sierra del Torcal”, the greatest kartisc formation on earth, with a perimeter of seventeen kilometres and given the status of National Natural Park in 1929.

“La Peña de los Enamorados” (declared National Monument), at the entrance to the city, tells us of stories of impossible love affairs between lovers fleeing from their respective families (his Christian, and hers Arabic), throwing themselves off the highest peak of this big and beautiful elevation, surrounded by the Guadalhorce River.

Antequera maintains valuable remains that show the importance it has had throughout the centuries as a privileged settlement in Andalucía. The three combined Dolmens, which still exist next to the city: “El Romeral”, “Viera” and, above all, “Menga”, are evidence that, in prehistoric times, this was a monumental and mythical place. But, progressing through history, we can appreciate that the Roman Antikaria is not left behind in importance and, at present, it is possible and mythical place. But, progressing through history, we can appreciate that the Roman Antikaria is not left behind in importance and, at present, it is possible to admire at the Municipal Museum (installed at the elegant “Palacio de Nájera) the “Efebo”, one of the best finished examples of Roman sculpture in the whole of Spain. Its prestige does not diminish during the Arabic epoch and from those times remain The Alcazaba, with its powerful walls, and the splendid “Torre del Homenaje o de Papabellotas”, which from its privileged vantage point, presides over the urban landscape of the city.

After it was taken over by the Christians in 1410, the city lives through new moments of splendour, characterised above all by a splendid literature, represented by “La Escuela Barroca Antequerana” ( the Antequeran Baroque School) and by the monumental character of its buildings, which the passer- by can appreciate in a pleasant stroll through the numerous monuments of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

At the top of the city, “La Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor”, a Renaissance building with harmonious façade, which conjures up Roman architecture, and great interior aisles separated by austere, ionic columns. Nearby, we find “El Arco de los Gigantes”, with a marked mannerist style and the enclosure of “La Alcazaba”, with outstanding towers like “La Estrella” and “El Agua”.

Entering the lower part of the city, we find the great baroque churches and the palaces. There, we find “La del Carmen”, with its wide, singular aisle, mudejar, coffered ceiling and beautiful, baroque alterpieces, “San Sebastián”, situated next to “El Arco del Nazareno” in one of its most pleasant corners and the Renaissance fountain in the square which bears the same name as the church.

There are other countless places of genuine, Andalucian flavour, which can only be possibly appreciated by losing oneself through the beautiful side- streets. “La Plaza de Santiago” or “La Plaza del Portichuelo”, the church of “Santa María de Jesús”, spacious palaces like the one that presently houses the town hall, beautiful temples like the Renaissance of “San Pedro”, the baroque of “La Trinidad”,”San Agustín” or the attractive façade of the church of “San Juan de Dios”.

The festive calendar of Antequera has its zenith during Easter. The fervour of its residents and the majesty of its processions during Holy week, the majority of which originate from the baroque era, make it one of the most interesting in the whole of Andalucía. Just as attractive are its Spring Fair, held between end of May and beginning of June, with Andalucian stalls and its “Feria Agrícola y Ganadera” (Agrogant), Agricultural and Cattle Fair. Bullfighting fans will delight with important bullfights in which the top names at national level in bullfighting take part.

Las but not least in importance of what the city offers is its gastronomy; its dishes are of such quality that the Antequeran cuisine has given the name of the city to two dishes, which are very much appreciated. “La Porra Antequerana”, a summer cream par excellence, its preparation based on bread, tomato, pepper… and, of course, the very well- known “molletes de Antequera”, bread rolls ideal to take at breakfast. In addition, delicious dishes that can be sampled in countless restaurants and “tapas” bars all over the city: rice stew, mallow stew and variety of large blood pork sausage made from the pig’s tongue and the “bienmesabe”, a subtle sweet which, with such a name, little has to be said.

Without doubt, Antequera offers attractions for all those who come to visit without haste and with the sole intention of enjoying a beautiful city and an essential symbol of the Andalucian history.