Antequera

A visit to Antequera, one of the region's largest towns, is to take a journey back in time. Archaeological discoveries near the city gates have unearthed the ancient Roman city of Signilla Barba with some fabulous mosaics and on the other side, the prehistoric dolmen caves of the Menga, Viera and El Romeral. These were megalithic mass tombs nearly 5000 years old, created by the original Iberian people.

Modern day Antequera is an enchanting town with its long history clearly visible. Built around a Moorish castle, its Gothic church spires and Baroque bell towers are surrounded by a patchwork of ploughed fields cultivated for asparagus, olives, almonds and yellow sunflowers. Known as the City of Monuments because there is virtually one in every street. Points of special interest are the recently excavated Roman baths, the Renaissance church of Santa María la Mayor, the baroque church of El Carmen which contains one of the finest altarpieces in all Spain, the 19th century bull ring and the Arch of the Giants, built in 1585.

The Convento de las Descalzas, an enclosed order of Carmelite nuns, offers the modern day traveller a unique insight into an almost forgotten way of life. The order sells pastries and bread to the public, but are not allowed visual contact with the outside world, so the transactions are carried out by means of a bell-rope and a revolving wooden door.

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