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The city of Antequera now has a population of 42,000. This city is in the geographical center of Andalusia, between Malaga, Seville, Granada and Cordoba. The economy is good because the city has an industrial park that is filled with new companies. Since it is the center of Andalusia, many companies that distribute goods, such as supermarkets, have made this their distribution center. Land is cheaper here than in the big cities like Malaga. The high speed Ave train passes here and they are plans for an international airport also. Many people who live here are prosperous because of their farms.
People have been living in the area since the bronze age. First the Iberians were here, then the Tartassus tribes, followed by the Phoenicians, Romans, and the Moors. The Romans called their town Sincilia Barba. The Moors called their town Medina Antecaria. In 1410 the Infante Don Fernando conquered the town for the Christians. The Napoleonic invasion and the yellow fever of 1804 decimated the town but the town has now recovered and is very prosperous.
The Baroque period was the most prosperous time in Antequera and 32 churches were built during that time, as well as many private palaces. It is said that about 65% of the artistic wealth of the Province of Malaga is found in Antequera. Many noblemen and aristocrats lived in the city, and today there are many wealthy people who still live here.
1. Palace of Najera in Antequera - The municipal museum is in this palace and it contains the Ephebe of Antequera. The dictionary says an ephebe was in ancient Greece, a young man aged between 18 and 20 who had just reached manhood or full citizenship and was undergoing military training. The statue is made of bronze and is full scale, being hollow inside. The thickness of the statue is between 3 and 5 mm. It shows a young nude man with arms outstretched, and with a garland of leaves in his hair. The statue of the ephebe is a beautiful work of art and was made in the 1st century AD, during the Roman period. There are only 6 of these statues discovered in Europe, and the one in Antequera is the most perfect. The statue was found by a farmer working his field in 1955. The find was made public only in 1963, and this find caused a sensation with archeologists all over the world. The statue is the best Roman find in all of Spain.
2. Real Colegiata de Santa Maria Church in Antequera - This is a beautiful Renaissance church on one of the highest points in the town, with great views.
It was the first Renaissance church built in Andalusia, built between 1514 and 1550, on the orders of the Bishop of Malaga Don Diego Ramirez de Villaescusa.
The church has beautiful proportions and a beautiful design. There are late Gothic elements in the church, but the majority are from the Renaissance. The facade is impressive and the most monumental in Antequera, having three niches that are very geometric. There are three naves that are separated by large Ionic columns. The main chapel has a rectangular plan which are covered by cupolas that have a Gothic-Mudejar style, with the design of two large stars, with six and eight points. The church has plenty of light due to elegant windows that are in the Florentine style, and makes the interior of the church look very Italian. The church is now used for cultural events of the city, and the artwork and religious items have been transferred to the Church of San Sebastian.
3. Church of San Sebastian - The church was built in 1548 by the architect Diego de Vergara. In 1692 it became a Colegiata, which is the most important church of the city. The facade is in the Renaissance style and has sculptures of San Pedro, San Pablo and San Sebastian on one level and Santiago and San Felipe on another level. There are the coat of arms of the Emperor Carlos V and an eagle. The tower was started in 1701 with a design of Ignacio de Urzueta. Today the design is Baroque-Mudejar and it is topped by a weathervane with the figure of an angel, called El Angelote, which has on its chest relics of Santa Eufemia, another patron saint of the city. The interior has three naves but the original main chapel was destroyed by an explosion in the past. The center of the main nave has a choir with important carved wooden chairs, and two Baroque organs. The church is located at the Plaza San Sebastian, which has a Renaissance design. There is a fountain from 1545. The church has many artistic treasures that came from the old Colegiata de Santa Maria. Today the church is the seat of the Cofradia del Mayor Dolor and the procession of Corpus Christi starts from this church.
4. San Juan de Dios Church - The Order of the Padres Hospitalarios de San Juan de Dios arrived in Antequera in the second half of the 17th century and the church was started then and finished in the end of the 18th century. They also constructed an adjacent hospital, that was closed in 1999. The church used stone from the ruins of the Roman city of Singilia Barba. There is a sacristy that has two large lunette paintings of Christ. There are also 14 small paintings, each one of a different saint. There are plaster moldings all over the room that are rich in design. The interior of the church is one of the gems of the Baroque Andaluz because of the very rich decoration with white plaster moldings with designs of vegetables, plants, animals, and angels. The cupola is very high and amazingly filled with the plaster designs, a very impressive design. The main altar has a beautiful sculpture of the Immaculate Virgin, flanked by statues of San Joaquin and Santa Ana. There are many paintings that show the life of San Juan de Dios.
5. Los Remedios Convent - The Virgin de los Remedios was named as the patron saint of the city in 1546 and her small sculpture was found in a small chapel of the Franciscans. A bigger church was started in 1628 by Gonzalo Yañez and Fernando de Oviedo. The church has a Latin cross plan, with a central nave and smaller naves on each side. There is a very impressive cupola. The impressive main altarpiece was done in the first third of the 18th century by Antonio Rivera and is considered one of the best in Antequera. There is a very elaborate design with white plaster moldings that are all over the church. The paintings in the church show passages in the lives of the Virgin Mary, San Antonio, and San Jose. The sculpture of the Virgin is the work of Miguel Marquez Garcia, who finished it in 1816. The church has many impressive side altars.
6. Church of San Agustin - The church was built between 1550 and 1566 and was designed by the architect Diego de Vergara. The facade has a Mannerist design. The tower was constructed in 1675 and later in the 18th century. The main altar has a Mannerist design. The church has a rectangular design with a Gothic vault. There are many plaster moldings all over the church, with designs of fruits, coat of arms, hideous masks, and heads. There are many paintings of the life of San Agustin, painted by the artist Antonio Mohedano. The Cofradia de la Pollinica has renovated the church recently for its use and has many cultural activities during the whole year. There are many interesting side chapels in the church.
7. Convent of Belen - This church was built in 1628 by the Portugese architect Gonzalo Yañez, and has a sober facade in stone and brick. The floor plan is that of the Latin cross, with many lateral chapels that communicate with each other. The cupola is very high and the whole church is decorated with very elaborate Baroque plasterwork, that are outlined in blue. There are two very important sculptures, one of Christ Fallen on the Mountain, and the Virgen de los Dolores. The main chapel is enclosed by a wooden grate. Inside are the statues of San Miguel Arcangel, Santa Clara, and San Juan de la Cruz. There is also the very important sculpture of San Bruno, work of the artist Jose de Mora. There is a beautiful painting of The Adoration of the Shepherds, which was done by Fray Domingo. The church has been occupied by the Carmelite nuns until the 19th century, and later by the Nuns of St. Claire. The Cofradia de Servitas is headquartered in this church.
8. The Church of Santiago
- The church was built in the 18th century and was the work of Cristobal Garcia. The facade has many Mudejar influences. The design is Baroque and simple, with one nave, with a cupola. There is a camarin of the Virgen de la Salud, with a rococo decoration of plasterwork that was made in 1765. The image of the Virgin is from the 17th century and stands on a wooden platform that is gilded. There are several paintings in the church that are interesting. The sacristy has many gold and silver works that have great value.
9. Town Hall (Municipal Palace)
- This building belonged to a convent of the Franciscan Terceros order until the Desamortizacion of Mendizabal, when church property was confiscated by the state in 1836. The facade was rebuilt in a modern Neo-Baroque style but the cloisters from 1679 and the impressive staircase were maintained. The materials were very rich, such as different colors of polished marble for the banisters. The whole convent building was acquired by the Town Hall in 1845 and work was done to convert the convent into the Town Hall. The impressive rooms are the assembly hall, which has portraits of illustrious citizens and a very good portrait of King Juan Carlos when he was young. There is a Hall of Kings, which has portraits of King Alfonso XII and his first wife.
10. Museo Coventual de las Descalzas - This museum is situated in the Convento de las Carmelitas Descalzas. The nave of the church was done in 1707 and 1734, while the convent was done in 1632. The museum has plenty of religious art from the 16th to the 18th century. Painters represented are Luca Giordano, Antonio Mohedano, Bocanegra, and Antonio de Torres. There are important sculptures by Pdero de Mena, Nicola Fumo, Francisco Salcillo, la Roldana, and Antonio del Castillo. There are also many pieces of silverware in the musuem.
11. Convent of San Agustin - This convent was built between 1550 and 1566 by the architect Diego de Vergara., the same architect who worked on the Cathedral of Malaga. The facade has a Mannerist style and has a balcony. The tower was constructed in 1675, 1676, and in the 18th century. The church has a rectangular plan and the ceiling is Gothic. There are many plaster decorations and paintings about the life of San Agustin, done by the artist Antonio Mohedano. The central nave opens to many different chapels that are interesting and beautiful.
12. The Estepa Gate - This monumental gate with three arches at one end of the Alameda Andalucia is made of brick and red stone from El Torcal. There is an image of the Virgen del Rosario made in terracota, made by the sculptor Eloy Garcia. Behind one arch is an image in tile of Santa Eufemia, based on a print of 1820 and made by the company of Antonio Gonzalez of Mirena del Alcor. The horses and carriages were supposed to pass under the middle arch and pedestrians under the side arches. This arch was constructed in 1998 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Real Feria de Agosto that was approved by King Fernando VI. This gate replaces one that was destroyed in 1931.
13. The Granada Gate - This is an arch that was constructed in 1748 by Martin de Bogas. There have been several modifications since the gate was originally constructed. In the middle of the arch is an image of the Virgen del Rosario de Santo Domingo in terracota. This gate is located on the road from Granada. Today no traffic is allowed to pass below the arch.
14. Plaza Coso Viejo - This plaza has the equestrian statue of the Infante Don Fernando and it has a fountain that represents the four elements of water, fire, air, and earth. Beside this plaza can be found the Palacio de Najera, the Museo Municipal, and the Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena.
15. Plaza San Sebastian - The plaza was created in 1508 and is one of the lovely parts of the city. The Church of San Sebastian is beside it. There is a Renaissance fountain that was made by Baltasar de Godros of Granada in 1545.
16. City Gardens - The City Gardens are located beside the Plaza de Toros. One side has the Paseo Real, which has the sculpture of Capitan Moreno and a place where the Municipal band plays in the open air. Beside it is La Negrita, the name of the juvenile park. The park has a monumental sculpture that was done by the sculptor from Malaga Paco Palma.
17. The Moorish Castle - This was built in the 13th century by the Moors to defend themselves from the Christians. It has recently been restored. It is on the hill that overlooks the city. This castle is also called the Alcazaba. Nearby is the Arch of the Giants, that was built in 1585 and leads to the castle. The architect for this arch was Francisco de Azurriola.
18. The Dolmens of Antequera - At the entrance to Antequera one can find the Dolmens, which are megaliths from the Copper Age (2500-1800 B.C.). The Menga Dolmen was constructed in 2500 B.C. and is the best dolmen example in Europe. The large locks of stone were transported from the Veracruz quarry. It also uses sandstone blocks. The Viera Dolmen is from 2000 B.C. It is a covered gallery made up of an access corridor and a square chamber, which is reached by means of a door set into a mololith. The Romeral Dolmen is from 1800 B.C. It has three rooms: a gallery, the burial chamber, and a second smaller chamber for offerings.
19. The El Torcal Natural Park - El Torcal is a karstic or calcareous landscape, the most amazing one in Europe. It occupies an area of about 20 squre kilometers and includes the Sierra Pelada. There are towers, walls, spires, passages, and capriciously shaped rocks. They were formed by the water and the wind over a period of thousands of years. This area has been protected by the government since 1929. The area has many flowers that bloom in spring, as well as many eagles, vultures, owls and small birds.
20. Triunfo de la Inmaculada
- This monument is located in the Plaza de Capuchinos. The Capuchin Fathers contracted the sculptor Antonio del Castillo to uild it in 1697. The monument consists of a tall Corinthian column with the sculpture of the Virgen de la Inmaculada on top of the column. The sculpture of the Virgin is made of alabaster and was made by an anonymous artist. The Capuchin Fathers had this sculpture of the Virgin in their convent before this.
21. The Unicaja Building
- This is located on Calle Diego Ponce and calls attention to itself because of its beauty. The bank building was built in 1932 by the architect Daniel Rubio. Its architecture is very eclectic and has elements that are Mannerist, Baroque, Neo-Classic, and Art Deco. One can enter the bank and see the beautiful stained glass windows inside.
22. Peñon de los Enamorados - Between Antequera and Archidona, one can see a huge rock formation called the Peñon de los Enamorados, which translates to lovers’ rock. It looks like a huge face that is looking up to the sky. This can be seen when one drives from Malaga to Seville or Granada or Antequera. The view from Antequera is the best.
There are many legends regarding this rock formation. There is one version that the tourist newspaper of Antequera, called El Angelote, has published that goes as follows:
During the middle ages, the frontier between Christians and Moors was constantly changing. A young Christian warrior called Tello became a prisoner in a small town where the Moors had power. The daughter of the Moorish town leader was called Tagzona and she was curious to see the local prison. She went there and met Tello. It was love at first sight for both of them! They decided to elope because at that time interfaith marriages were not allowed.
As they were escaping, the Moorish guards detected them and ran after them, with Tagzona’s father in the lead. The lovers arrived at the rock formation and decided to climb the rock. The Moors were in hot pursuit. When the lovers reached the top, the Moorish archers surrounded them. The lovers held each other at the precipice and could see no escape. When they were captured, they would be separated. So they decided to jump to their deaths together! That is how the rock got its name. They say the rock has the profile of Tagzona.
The rock became very famous in Spain. When Columbus discovered the New World, he wrote that he found a rock very similar to the Peñon de los Enamorados in Antequera.
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