The first sighting of Antequera in the distance is that of a typical medieval town, with the spires of her many churches and the walls and towers of the great Moorish fortress silhouetted against the sky.
Spread out in the valley below lie rich farmlands irrigated by the Guadalhorce River. For centuries this has been one of Andalucía's most fertile areas, and is currently a leading producer of asparagus, cereals and olives. In summer, its fields turn brilliant yellow with sunflowers.
The town and valley are overlooked by an enormous crag of limestone, 880 metres high that resembles a mans face, called La Peña de los Enamorados, or "The Lovers' Leap".
The name comes from a local legend about an impossible love affair between a young Christian man from Antequera and a beautiful Moorish girl from nearby Archidona, who were driven to the top of the cliff by the Moorish soldiers, where, rather than renounce their love, they chose to hurl themselves into the abyss.
One of Antequera's most impressive sights is its dolmens, located in a park to the west of the town, the most spectacular of which is the Cueva de la Menga. These megalithic mass tombs, made of huge slabs of rock, were created by the original Iberian people and date back 5,000 years.
There are many such dolmens in Andalucía, but none as large as the Cueva de la Menga. When it was excavated in the nineteenth century, many hundreds of skeletons were found in its inner chamber.
Other fascinating monuments to be seen in the town are the recently excavated Roman baths, the magnificent Renaissance church of Santa María la Mayor Church, the Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the 19th century bullring, and the Arch of the Giants, built in 1585, which leads up to the 13th century Moorish castle.
We recommend the Convento de las Descalzas, the Barefoot Carmelitas, on the square of the same name. Inside the heavy wooden entrance, there is a small counter with a display of bakery products and prices, next to a revolving wooden door. You pull a rope which rings a bell, and then hear a woman's voice say "Sí", after which you give your order and place your money on the tray.
The hidden nun then spins the tray around, with the pastries emerging from the door.
El Torcal Park Nature Reserve is known for unusual limestone rock formations. El Torcal Park Nature Reserve is located about 30 km north of Málaga city in the direction of Antequera near the village of Villanueva de la Concepción. Within El Torcal Park's 17 square km are some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe. The whole area was under sea until one hundred million years ago.
Then the violent movements of the Earth's crust forced it upward into hills and mountains up to 1.300 m. The limestone still kept its layered horizontal formation. Because of this, over the millions of years the rain and wind have been able to chisel away at these layers to form incredible shapes.
To reach the heart of the park it is possible to drive up to 1.100 m. above sea level along a good access road into the park. Simply go to the village of Villanueva de la Concepción and follow the signs to El Torcal out of the town about 1 km. There is also a very easy and picturesque route from the centre of Antequera.
At the parking area you will find an information centre, small museum, with an interesting of view of the wildlife, flora and fauna of the park. Orchid enthusiasts will be captivated by the 30 varieties of the plant growing in the park.
Three routes through the park for walkers have been marked out with different coloured arrows on wooden sticks. The green route is the shortest and easiest, 1,5 km. and takes about 30 minutes. The yellow route covers most of the green area, is 2,5 km. long and takes you to "Las Ventanillas" The Windows, at 1.200 m. for panoramic views of the valley of Málaga and the Mediterranean coast and on clear days straight over to the Atlas Mountain range of North Africa.
Finally the red route is the longest and most difficult, 4,5 km. taking about three hours, with a viewing point 1.339 m. up where you can see the whole of the El Torcal Park and the Africa Coastline.
You need good walking shoes or trainers, in the warm months take a bottle of water. El Torcal de Antequera - The enchanted mountain range!
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