What to do and what to see in Antequera

The city of Antequera, with an area of 814 km2, is the largest in the province of Málaga, and one of the largest in Spain. It extends to the north of the province, serving as the limit with the one of Córdoba on the north and the south with the Montes de Málaga. Antequera city extends along the northern slope of a small hill, between the Sierra del Torcal and an extensive plain, the Vega de Antequera, where there is an important agriculture of cereals, olive groves and vegetables.

Its dominant orography of Antequera is flat and slightly hilly, the most prominent and well-known mountain range is the Sierra del Torcal.

Its strategic location in the geographical center of Andalusia has favored throughout history an important movement of men and cultures. Currently, Antequera is a point of reference for business activity, bringing together a growing number of companies. The important communication networks with which it is being provided have a lot to do with it.

Considering its demography, the municipality of Antequera is made up of around 40,000 inhabitants, of which some 4,000 live in one of the 12 annexes distributed by its municipal area, among them Cartaojal, Bobadilla Estación, Bobadilla Pueblo, La Higuera, La Joya, Los Llanos, Cañadas de Pareja, Villanueva de Cauche, Los Nogales and Puerto del Barco.

Departing from Málaga, the fastest and shortest route to Antequera is to take the N-331 road (A-45) and when entering the vega, you take the indication to Antequera by the A-354, and after traveling about 2 km you enter the city.

History of Antequera

The first settlements in Antequera correspond to the Middle Paleolithic, however it is from the Bronze Age that the most important prehistoric remains are preserved, such as the Dolmen of Menga, the Dolmen of Viera and the Dolmen of the Romeral with 4000 or 4500 years.

The Iberians also left their mark in Antequera, as shown by the fortification that was later transformed into the Roman city of Antikaria, from which period numerous sculptures are preserved and which was located on the hill on which the castle of Arab origin currently stands.

The Arabs called Antequera as "Medinat Antaqira" that occupied it since the 9th century. However, it is from the 13th century and until its conquest by Christian troops in 1410, when it becomes important as a border military fortress.

In the 16th century, Antequera was one of the most important cities of Andalusia due to its great commercial activity and important cultural life. To this contributed the foundation by the Catholic Monarchs of the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor; as well as a large number of buildings, such as the Church of San Sebastián, the Church of San Juan, the Church of San Pedro, the Church of San Isidro and the Church of Santa María de la Esperanza; or as they are the Monastery of San Zoilo, the Convent of San Agustín, the Church of El Carmen and the Convent Encarnación and civil buildings like the Municipal Building, the Arch of the Giants, the House of the Cabildo of the Plaza Alta, etc.

All this allowed to Antequera to create a Mannerist and Baroque movement in the 17th century of great splendor, both styles that defined the aesthetics of buildings in this century and the next in the city, they belong to the Trinidad Convent, the Church of Our Lady of Loreto, the Convent of Santo Domingo, the Church of Belén, the Church of San Juan de Dios, the Church of Los Remedios.

It is in the 18th century when Antequera the city lived the best moment of its history as a result of its great agricultural, commercial and artistic activity. To this time belong among other constructions, the Convent of La Victoria, the Convent Madre Dios de Monteagudo, the Convent of Santa Eufemia or the Church of Santiago and others such as the Palace of the Marquis of Villadarias, the Palace of the Count of Pinofiel or the Palace of the Count of Colchado.

In the first third of the 19th century Antequera suffered a regression as a result of a demographic decline due to yellow fever, a circumstance of which recovered in the second half of this century, in which the bourgeoisie took center stage, the activity grew industrial, especially textiles.

The 20th century has been characterized in Antequera by the development of extensive agriculture of cereals and olive groves, living moments like those of the post-war period of great economic decline amid enormous social miseries followed by a strong emigration in the seventies with a considerable demographic regression.

Nowadays Antequera looks to the future with a modernized agriculture and an industrial activity in constant growth.

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What to see in Antequera

Antequera is a city that has a large volume of heritage between monuments, churches, civil architecture, etc. We have highlighted some of them to have more information about them when visiting them.

Dolmen of Menga: Of the era of the Chalcolithic in Antequera, approximately of the 2500 B.C. It is constituted by a large chamber covered with an oval shape with a small narrowing at the entrance.

Dolmen of Viera: It is something more recent, approximately of the year 2000 B.C. Constituted by a corridor that gives access to a square chamber through a door carved in a monolith.

Dolmen of the Romeral: The most recent from Antequera, around 1800 B.C. Formed by a long corridor that gives access to a sepulchral chamber through a lintel door and, finally, a second smaller chamber destined to present offerings.

Butchery of the Moorish: From the beginning of the 4th century. They are the remains of some thermal baths, which belonged to a Roman villa, located next to the River of the Villa and a few kilometers from the old city of Antequera. In it there is a large swimming pool whose retaining wall is decorated with fifteen human-sized niches with a rectangular floor, covered with a half-barrel vault.

Roman Baths: From the 1st century A.D. Located at the foot of the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor of Antequera. Made with large ashlars and large pools that are covered in marble on the outside. There is a large polychrome mosaic, dating from the 3rd century.

Roman Villa: Dated between the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. It stands out for the great quality of the materials used for its construction the amplitude of the rooms and the found fixtures in this villa from Antequera.

Arch of the Giants: It dates from the last third of the 16th century. The arch has a height of seven meters and has a large niche, flanked by two brackets. It contains the shield of the Antequera city composed of a jug of lilies, the castle and the lion.

Alcazaba: With an angular floor plan, its interior is accessed by a door located between two large smooth column shafts. Inside, it is divided into rooms, several of rectangular floor plan and covered with vaulted vaults. It emphasizes in the well-known one like White Tower by its architectonic perfection.

Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor: Built in the first half of the 16th century in Antequera, it is the first one in Andalusia in Renaissance style, although it still has Gothic traces. Externally it stands out for its grandiose facade, made of ashlar stone with three streets separated by buttresses on each of which a door opens. Inside, the three naves, with the central one of greater height, are separated by enormous columns of Ionic style, on which they rest arcs of half point on both sides decorated with pomas. They are covered with Mudejar armor, the rectangular center and the side ochavadas. The main chapel has a rectangular floor plan with Gothic-Mudejar style vaults, in which two large stars with six and eight points and elegant Florentine windows are drawn.

Deposit: Warehouse with which the normal supply of wheat to the entire population of Antequera was ensured. It dates from the 17th century, although it has undergone numerous transformations and additions. The oldest element is the main nave, covered with an Arabic tile roof with sandstone and a reduced arch on which the three elements of the coat of arms of Antequera are based. Inside the breadbasket stands out, built at the end of the 18th century, it is a large room with a rectangular floor plan, covered with a half-barrel vault divided into eight sections by means of arches that support the pilasters.

Town Hall: The elements of artistic interest, preserved in its interior as pieces of the old monastic ensemble, are the courtyard of the cloister of the 17th century and the main staircase with a rectangular floor plan that highlights the handrails, the base and the staircase great beauty. Everything is covered with vault of half orange on pendentives decorated with plasterwork. Also worth mentioning is the Sessions Hall (decorated with tempera paintings) and the Hall of the Kings. The current facade, begun in 1953, was conceived in a neo-baroque style inspired by local models of Antequera.

Other monuments of civil architecture that we can find in Antequera are the Savings Bank of Antequera, the House of the Baron of Sabasona (first third of the 18th century), the House Bouderé (early 20th century), the House of the Earl of the Colchado, the House Earls Pinofiel (half of the 18th century), the House of Los Colarte (beginning of the 18th century), the House of Los Pardo (mid-17th century), the House of Los Serrailler (first half of the 20th century), the House of Los Ramírez, the Hospital of San Juan de Dios (second half of the 18th century), the Palace of the Marquises of the Peña de los Enamorados (second half of the 16th century), the Palace of Nájera (first third of the 18th century), the Palace of the Marquis of Villadarias (first half of the 18th century), the Palace of the Marquise of Las Escalonias (early 17th century) and the Bullring (although it dates from the mid-19th century, in the 80s it has a transformation that affected almost all of it).

Among the parks and gardens that we can see in Antequera we highlight the Paseo Real, the La Negrita Park, the María Cristina Park, the Heart of Mary Gardens, the Heart of Jesus Gardens, the Lake of the Ducks and the Gardens of the King Juan Carlos I located next to the Door of Granada, the latter with stunning views of the upper area of Antequera city.

Finally, we can highlight different viewpoints from which you can get beautiful views of Antequera. These are the Almenillas Viewpoint, from it we can get an impressive view of the Peña de los Enamorados and the entire city with all its monuments; the Niña de Antequera Viewpoint, built at the beginning of the 20th century on two levels, from where you can see the river of the Villa, the Carmen Church, the Peña de los Enamorados and the Door of Málaga; the Door of Granada Viewpoint, located next to the Door of Granada, from it you can see beautiful panoramic views of Antequera in general and the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor and the Alcazaba in particular.

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What to do in Antequera

Among the different attractions that Antequera has, we can find the following activities with which to complete a good visit.

Antequera offers us different museums for those most wishful to learn the curiosities of this land.

Conventual Museum of the Descalzas: It is located in the Convent of las Carmelitas Descalzas in Antequera. Among the works that can be seen, include canvases from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, sculptures such as a bust of Dolorosa by Pedro de Mena or the Virgin of Bethlehem by Luisa Roldán and numerous display cases with images of the Child Jesus, as well as various sizes of the Virgin and of Saint Joseph and pieces of silverware.

Municipal Museum: It is located inside the Palace of Nájera in Antequera. It highlights important paintings and sculptures such as the "Efebo de Antequera" made in bronze dating from the 1st century or the sculpture of Saint Francis of Assisi, the work of Pedro de Mena.

Bullfighting Museum: It is located in the premises of the Bullring and makes a tour of the national festival and bullfighting history of Antequera. It gathers among others, journalistic documents, bullfight posters, a photographic archive, striking suits of lights belonging to some of the most prominent right-handers of our national bullfighting history and artistic pieces made in sculpture such as El Tiro de Mulillas (made in bronze) and paintings as La Lidia (19th century) or La Tauromaquia (painted on glass and staging different bullfighting tasks).

Apart from the museums, Antequera offers different ways to connect with nature through the Torcal de Antequera, a natural space with a karst landscape like few others in Europe; or through one of the Trekking Routes through Antequera that this city offers us and that travel through towns such as Villanueva del Rosario, Cartaojal or Valle de Abdalajís.

And for the most curious for the religion can make the Route of the Churches of Antequera since it is one of the cities with more churches per inhabitant.

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Traditional festivals in Antequera

Antequera preserves a series of celebrations related to its culture and tradition.

Holy Week: Its success lies in having preserved many ancient elements. His sculptures are of great artistic value, many of them dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. We must also highlight some moments of great originality, such is the case of "run la vega", which consists of running up the thrones of some brotherhoods along the steep slopes that lead to their temples. There are nine brotherhoods and fraternities commissioned each year to delight us with this tradition in Antequera:

Domingo de Ramos - Brotherhood of the Pollinica

Holy Monday - Brotherhood of the Students

Holy Tuesday - Brotherhood of the Rescue

Holy Wednesday - Brotherhood of the Mayor Dolor

Holy Thursday - Brotherhood of the Consuelo and the Dolores

Good Friday – Brotherhood of Abajo, Arriba and the Soledad

Resurrection Sunday - The Risen One. Association of Brotherhoods

Patron Saint Festivities: On the Sunday after May 18 the Lord of Health and the Waters, the patron saint of Antequera, is carried out in procession, along its streets accompanied by thousands of faithful from all parts of the region, they keep alive the tradition of "enlightening the Lord".

Celebration in honor of the Virgin of Los Remedios: On September 8 takes place the day of patroness of Antequera. During the celebration it is taken out in procession, accompanied by the faithful devotees to her.

Celebration in honor of Saint Eufemia: On the saturday before September 16 is taken in procession Saint Eufemia and traditional candles are made in Antequera.

May Fair: Considered a Festival of National Tourist Interest. Since its creation in the mid-19th century has had a strong mercantile character, bringing together a series of events such as exhibition of agricultural machinery and agri-food fair, forming what is known as AGROGANT. Other acts or celebrations have been added to it, such as the Málaga goat auction, the horse championship, the photo marathon and, in general, activities to promote the tourism of Antequera.

August Fair: Declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, it is one of the oldest in Spain, its origins date back to the 18th century. It begins with the official proclamation and the inauguration of the lighting. Distinguishing two celebratory environments, the day fair and the night fair. There are numerous shows that take place these days in Antequera as musical performances, humorous performances, bullfights, activities for children, etc., all culminated with fireworks on the last night.

Pilgrimage of the Lord of the Verónica: Antecedent to the previous parties, it begins with a rociera mass in the Bullring, which is followed by a procession that runs through different streets of Antequera until you reach the chapel where your image is located so revered by the neighbors of Antequera.

Jeva Day: It is celebrated on December 25 in the morning, residents of the districts of Antequera as La Higuera or La Joya, and the neighboring municipality of Villanueva de la Concepción and the city of Antequera come together in the Hermitage of Jeva, south of the Torcal de Antequera, to venerate the Virgin of La Purificación. The party begins with a ringing of bells, which gives way to the traditional "clash of bands" of verdiales (typical dance of the province of Málaga) and to the entrance of these to the hermitage. Afterwards, there is a tasting of homemade shortbread, coffee, drinks of brandy and local fritters, as well as a series of musical performances, until the virgin is taken in procession to the era, where a mass is celebrated. To end the day, around noon, every year a contest of coplillas by verdiales dedicated to the virgin takes place, which they take back to their hermitage once the act is over.

Fandango: As folklore typical of Antequera we pick up your fandango. Full of tradition and popular experiences, describes the conquest and flirting between men and women in a quiet dance divided into several verses, each with two parts, one as a step dance and another as a walk repeated in chorus. All this, from the popular touch of the lyrics, music and homemade instruments, such as the pestle, which sets the bar.

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Gastronomy of Antequera

Antequera typical dishes are porra antequerana (made mainly with bread, oil, garlic and tomatoes), ajoblanco, paprika, gazpachuelo, crumbs, the salad of thistles, the cortijera rabbit and the pastoral goat.

Regarding desserts and pastries of Antequera are well known and famous the bienmesabe (sweet made with ground almonds, sponge cake and angel hair) and mantecados. And of course, the Antequera muffin, which is a type of Arabic bread of white crumb and little cooked that is made by hand and can be accompanied with butter, oil, pork rinds, loin zurrapas, pate, sausage, etc.

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