Antequera is not just another
Andalusian white hill town -- not that there's anything wrong with
Antequera retains its baroque religious buildings while sitting atop
its strangely beautiful landscape. But its air is permeated by history.
the Christians started their last holy war -- removing the Moors from
their remaining Iberian holdout -- the Granada Empire. This makes the
battle for Antequera the beginning of the end for the Moors. The
Christians finally took the city in 1410 after 200 years of on-again,
of again warfare. Then the Christians fortified the place to make it their
base to attack Granada. Once they succeeded, Antequera flourished,
especially in the 16th through 18th centuries when much of what
tourists come to see was created.
Long a place like no
hill at right center looks church-filled and verdant, yet it held the
Alcazar -- the defensive fort. Once the Christians arrived, they used
it as a base to take back the rest of the Grenada kingdom. This took
another 8 decades until that momentous year for both the Old and New
Here's another view looking from the Alcazar area over the rooftops to
the distant 2500 foot peak called the "Pena de los Enamorados" (Lovers
Rock.) Antequera rises in the Sierra (mountains) de los Torcales, a
beautiful area where limestone thrusts dramatically into blue skies,
creating one of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe. Nearby is a
salt water marsh called Fuente de Piedra which provides habitat for the
Great Flamingo -- one of the few places in Europe to do so. The town is
about halfway to everywhere in Andalusia, including the two largest
cities of Málaga and Seville.
Here before history
town has a lot of history – not just the recorded wars
the Christians and Moors. Millennia before that cave men
lived here and buried their dead in some of the largest tombs (called
dolmens) in Europe. (More on that later). Natural history abounds here
as well: Antequera sits about 1800 feet above the Mediterranean and is
separated from it by the Sierra del Torcal mountain range – a
strangely beautiful landscape formed when the African landmass crashed
into Eurasia about 20 million years ago. (See photos at right) The
limestone formed 200 million years ago by all those little sea critters
dying at the bottom of the then-ocean was gradually thrust up into
scenery such as this, seen at the nearby Natural Park of Torcal. To see
more of this park, click here.
In the middle of it
this city is in the middle of somewhere: Two of Andalusia's
superhighways cross near here, making it a natural communication and
transportation hub. Below is a closer shot of the Alcazar hill. The
fort, unfortunately, was closed for repairs and, from appearances, will
probably be closed for quite a while.
At left is a large church which today is a museum. It was the Colegiata
-- a center of learning for the inland western area of Andalusia.
Having one of these was pretty much an indication by the powers that be
(popes and kings) that this town was something special even though it
was not the head of a diocese (which would have given it, of course, a
cathedral most likely medieval.)
A model fort
is a model of the fortifications built by the Moors to maintain their
most northern outpost after all but the kingdom of Granada was taken
back by the Christians in the 13th century. Let’s start with
visit to the church at right, the Colegiata. Note to its right the flat
area which was here long before the defensive curtain wall when the 1st
century Romans created their baths. After Rome fell, the Visigoths
pretty much leveled the place.
Arch of the Giants
a steep uphill climb from the heart of the city, the Colegiata is
accessed through the Arch of the Giants built in the late 1500s to
honor Philip II, in power then when Spain was pretty much at its peak.
Here the old Moorish defensive walls are over 6 feet thick.
The Roman town of
arch appears to be pay homage to Roman triumphal arches and, besides
the old tombstones, incorporates the remains of a Roman statue of
Hercules above left of the arch. Of course, the Romans were here and
are responsible for much of the old town's layout as well as its name.
Antequera is often called “the heart of Andalusia" (el
corazón de Andalucía) because of its central
the heart of this thriving agricultural area. Romans used it to supply
olive oil to their empire and olive culture and processing is still a
huge industry here today.
Just beyond that arch, the cobblestones of the Plaza of the Writers
leads us to the former Collegiate (now a museum). Join us by clicking here.
Please join us in the following slide show to give
Antequera the viewing it deserves by clicking here.
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