If you are planning a trip to the province of Malaga, the town of Antequera should definitely be on the list of cities to be visited.
Antequera has been the crossroads for travelers from Seville, Granada, Malaga and Cordoba since 2500 BC.
With its large amount of monuments, it is almost impossible to visit without a cultural guide.
It offers its visitors more than 30 churches with beautiful interiors, an abundance of Roman, Moorish and Spanish art and some of Europe’s oldest hunebeds.
Spectacular panoramic view.
You can start the visit to Antequera on the Mirador Niña de Antequera, a 400 meter long lookout point in the far south of the city.
Here you can enjoy beautiful views of the Torcal de Antequera.
After this overwhelming start, head back to Calle Villa de Enmedio to visit the majestic Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor, in the Plaza de los Escribanos.
This 16th-century church blends the late Gothic and early Renaissance architectural styles with facets of the Mudéjar, with the ceiling striking for its beautiful patterns.
Nowadays various concerts and fairs are organized here.
In front of the entrance of the church you will find the spectacular Roman baths, which date from the 3rd century AD.
You will find a plate that explains the layout of these old baths.
When you have finished your visit to this first Renaissance church in Spain, walk north until you reach the Arco de los Gigantes.
This impressive 7 meter high arch was built by the architect Francisco de Azurriola, replacing the ancient Islamic Estapa Gate, the gateway to the city in the north of Antequera.
This arch was once decorated with a beautiful statue of Hercules.
The remains can still be admired, along with the Roman inscriptions that can be found on the stones that were transferred from Roman villages in the surrounding area.
You can also see the town’s emblem here, which consists of a Madonna lily, a castle and a lion.
The impressive Alcazaba of Antequera.
Enter through this stately archway and you will find yourself in the impressive Alcazaba, which covers a total of 62,000 m².
Antequera´s Moorish fortress was built at the time of the Moorish Kingdom in 1300 on the remains of a Roman settlement to defend against possible Christian invasions.
Climb up to the main tower of the Alcazaba, the Torre del Homenaje and explore the bell tower that was built in 1582 to regulate the watering of the meadows.
Once there, you can also enjoy a spectacular view of the northeast of the city and the impressive Peña de los Enamorados.
This 872 meter high rock formation, together with the Torcal de Antequera and the Dólmenes, belongs to the extremely rich natural heritage of Antequera.
A ticket for the Alcazaba costs 6 € and this includes a visit to the Real Colegiata, the use of an audio guide, a descriptive explanation and a historical show.
Children up to 6 years old have free entry. An entry fee of 3 euros applies to children between 7 and 16 years old.
Alcazaba opening times:
- September 16 to March 31 – Monday to Sunday, from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
- April 1 to September 15 – Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, from 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Closed: December 25, January 1 and 6
The Dolmen of Antequera.
The archaeological ensemble of dolmens of Antequera, world heritage site of Unesco, consists of the dolmens of Menga, Viera and El Romeral.
The megaliths are the first forms of monumental architecture in European Prehistory.
They developed according to currently available data since the beginning of the V-millennium before our era, the neolithic period, about 6,500 years ago.
Already in 1886 the Dolmen de Menga was declared a National Monument and in 1923 the Dolmen de Viera.
The Tholos of El Romeral has been a National Archaeological Artistic Treasure since 1926 and was declared a historic-artistic monument in 1931.
The church in Antequera that you should not miss.
Once outside the Alcazaba, take Calle Rastro heading east until you reach Callejón Piscina. Here you will find the Church of Our Lady of El Carmen, home of the Santa Maria la Mayor parish.
The interior of this 18th-century church is really impressive.
The highlight is the altar carved from red pine and adorned with statues of angels, saints and popes.
To reconcile the whole with the traditional tiling, the rest of the interior has been fitted with dazzling colors.
Museums on your cultural route from Antequera.
When you have finished admiring El Carmen, continue your route to Calle del Carmen and turn right to Cuesta de los Rojas.
Keep following this street until you arrive at the Plaza de las Descalzas, the location of the Conventual de las Carmelitas Descalzas (or in good Dutch; the museum and convent of the Carmelitas barefoot).
Enter through the wooden door and you will find a small counter with all kinds of tasty pastries and other delicacies.
These delicacies are made by nuns and by ringing the bell you can pass on your order to them.
Then leave the money in the appropriate drawer and a nun will turn the drawer so that your pastries appear on the other side and you can start enjoying.
In addition to tasty sweets, you will also find a museum in this 17th – century monastery where the highlights of Antequera’s cultural heritage are exhibited.
Among them you will find the unmissable painting by Theresia van Ávila, the founder of the Carmelitas Descalzas.
When leaving the church, continue west along Calle Nájera.
You will soon come across the Palace of Nájera on your right, the home of the Museum of Antequera.
The most famous work here is undoubtedly the one and a half meter high statue of Efebo.
This bronze statue was found on a local farm in 1950 and is considered to be the coolest Roman statue ever found in Spain.
The museum also houses various parts of a Roman Villa, jewelery and a collection of paintings by the painter Cristóbal.
Plaza de Toros
Continue the route in a northerly direction past Cuesta Zapateros and you will arrive at Calle Infante Don Fernando.
At the end of this street you will discover one of the most beautiful arenas in Andalusia, the Plaza de Toros de Antequera.
The arena of Antequera was inaugurated on August 20, 1848.
In 1983 it was decided to proceed with a total transformation, both internally and externally.
The façade work began in 1984, starting with the construction of a new main shadow door, following the style model of the Antequeran clocks from the last third of the 18th century.
The rest of the facade was in line with this monumental door, which combines the modulation of brick and white heated canvases.
A gastronomic restaurant is linked to the arena with a mention in the acclaimed Michelin Guide. Certainly worth it.
Gastronomy is an additional attraction of the tourist offer of Antequera.
One of the best-known dishes from Antequese cuisine is the porra, which is mainly made with bread, oil, garlic, tomatoes and peppers.
Other typical dishes are: ajoblanco and gazpachuelo.
The kitchen also includes hunting dishes such as the rabbit and goat, and the recipes of imposed fish, a way to preserve food dating back to Roman times.
The bienmesabe stand out in the desserts section, a candy made with ground almonds, biscuit and angel hair.
You can get these and other delicacies in candy shops and monasteries (such as the monastery of Bethlehem or San Jose).
In the same establishments, but on the eve and Christmas dates, the mantecados, another typical sweet of the Antequera gastronomy, are for sale.
Not to mention the pestiños, torrijas and roscos, typical of Holy Week.