2016 was an incredibly exciting year for the historical market town of Antequera, in the north of the province of Malaga in Andalucia. Antequera’s ancient burial chambers, or Dolmens, were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, giving Antequera its well-deserved place on the map at last. With an influx of tourism since this wonderful news last year, Antequera is bracing itself for a bumper year of visitors, all wanting a taste of this latest UNESCO World Heritage listing, quite rightly too.
More about the Dolmens
Dolmens are burial chambers, megalithic monuments built in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. They are made of huge stone blocks, quite a feat of engineering of their time and are some of the most important and impressive structures of European pre-history. There are three of these remarkable structures in Antequera, some of the best examples to be found in Europe, and they are Dolmen Menga, Dolmen Viera and Dolmen El Romeral. Dolmens are traditionally built with their entrances facing the sun at noon or important natural structures that are found nearby. In the case of the Antequera Dolmens, Menga was built to face La Peña de los Enamorados Mountain, Viera faces where the sun rises on the equinoxes and El Romeral is uniquely facing the El Torcal Mountain range. Menga and Viera were constructed between 3000 and 3500 BC and El Romeral was built a little later, around 2500 BC which makes them at least 5000 years old.
Other UNESCO sites in Antequera
Also awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2016 were La Peña de los Enamorados (Lover’s Rock) mountain and the mountain range of El Torcal. La Peña de los Enamorados is the mountain between the towns of Antequera and Archidona, it looks like the profile of a ‘sleeping giant’ which is the other name it’s known by locally. The story goes that lovers from the two towns, and from rival families of two different religions, ran away together but after being pursued by soldiers from both their families they climbed the lover’s rock where they had no option but to throw themselves off, rather that than be separated by their warring families. The El Torcal mountain range and natural park is made up of limestone formations, created under the sea in times when the sea level was much higher, making a strangely pre-historic landscape of stunning stone structures.
The town of Antequera is awash with churches and convents, more than 30 in total, all from different eras and therefore built in different architectural styles, each as beautiful as the next. There are also four large gates on the outskirts of Antequera, the Arco de los Gigantes built in 1585, is possibly the most famous and is located at Antequera castle. The other three gates are the Puerta de Granada, Puerta de Estepa and the Puerta de Malaga, all beautifully preserved and have stood the test of time since they were built in Roman times. The Puerta de Estepa is the iconic arch in the middle of the roundabout as you enter Antequera from the west, it is actually a reconstruction of the original that was built in 1749, which was knocked down to allow easier access into Antequera. The bull ring and museum of Antequera are quite stunning and a must-see, even if you don’t agree with the sport itself. There are several galleries in the town including contemporary art, the municipal museum and the olive oil museum, the house of culture at the top end of the main street in Antequera often holds temporary art exhibitions.
All in all, Antequera is a wonderful place to visit, there is so much to see and do and a whole world of culture and history to discover. To take a tour of this fabulous town contact us and we will arrange a magical day for you and your group with our expert guides.