Trip to Antequera
Total length of the trip: 120km when returning by the main road. 96km when returning via Almogia.
Málaga is left by the so-called ‘acceso nuevo’ (new access), i.e. the CN-321, which later forks towards Granada, Cordoba and Seville.
Casabermeja (32km) appears on the left with the picturesque cemetery in the foreground. Despite its recent enlargement the village preserves the original layout and a number of examples of popular Málaga architecture. The parish church dates from the 16C and 18C.
At the mountain pass of Las Pedrizas the traveller should follow the CN-331 towards the left.
Antequera (46km from Málaga) is an important town as regards sights. It preserves very interesting buildings for lovers of the Renaissance and the Baroque in Andalusia. The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, used as a concert hall today, stands near the Arab Alcazaba (fortress) at the highest part of the town, from where there is a magnificent view. Carmen Square is another exceptional observation platform. It lies in front of a church of the same name, which has one of the most impressive interiors: the Baroque main reredos and the coffered ceiling are very outstanding.
The main street of Antequera is called Estepa and it begins at San Sebastián Square: the Baroque brick tower next to the church of the same name is one of the most characteristic landmarks in the silhouette of Antequera. Following the avenue, the traveller should visit – on the right and left – San Agustin Church, La Casa de los Pardo (a 17C palace occupied by the branch of a bank) and Los Remedios Church. The latter is another key building of Andalucian Baroque: the interior, designed by following stage criteria, probably belongs to the most interesting of its kind in Málaga. The Municipal Museum in an 18C palace preserves some very valuable remains of the Roman period. The Convents of Santa Catalina (facing the museum), of San Agustin, La Victoria, Las Recoletas and others, the same as the town palaces, which the traveller comes across on his walk, turn Antequera into a must for lovers of art and architecture, especially in spring and autumn. The Church of La Madre de Dios is a building which cannot be left out by anyone interested in the Baroque style: the interior has a set of very peculiar, but very interesting vaults.
By taking the same road which brought him to the town, the traveller soon reaches the signposts showing the way to the Caves of Menga, to Viera and El Romeral, three megalithic burial places dating from between 2,500 and 2,000 BC.
After 10km in the direction of Almogia in the south of Antequera, there is a turn-off for El Torcal on the right.
El Torcal de Antequera is a disturbing area consisting of large rocky blocks, which have often been compared with cyclopean ruins. A visit should be accompanied by a guide or else the traveller should follow the signposts indicating which direction he should take. Torcal is recommended, especially for those who love unusual scenery.
The road that took the traveller to Torcal can also be used for the return trip. After passing through Almogia, where an old palmetto workshop has survived, the road ends in Málaga. Those who prefer the safety of the national roads can return as they came, but it is 24km longer than the former.
The Guadalhorce River Basin and El Chorro Gorge
Total length of the trip: 175km
Málaga is left by the CL-402 in the direction of Alora. After 19km it approaches the Guadalhorce which it will follow as far as the reservoir.
Alora (40km from Málaga) lies on a rugged projection on the left of the road. A visit to the village, which, by the way, consists of a series of very steep slopes, is worth the traveller’s while for many reasons. The village spreads over a neighbouring hill, on which an old Moorish castle stands. The whitewashed streets are sometimes lined with lemon trees and converge on a square in the lowest part, over which a church towers. The power of this building is the backbone of the village. From there it is possible –on foot or by car- to climb to the castle where the cemetery of Alora is and from where there is a splendid panorama of the Guadalhorce river basin. Among the tombs there is a small Gothic chapel.
The road forks on the outskirts of Alora, but both branches lead to the same place: El Chorro Gorge and Bobastro. The difference between them is considerable. The left-hand road (the longer: 31km as far as Bobastro and a little more to El Chorro) passes through lonely countryside before reaching Carratracaz; that on the right hand is the more logical way if one does not mind omitting that lovely mountain village. The best solution is probably to go on one and return on the other.
El desfiladero (ravine) de los Gaitanes lies at a distance of 20km from Alora. There, the Guadalhorce begins its journey towards the sea between two breathtaking rock walls which are 40m high at some points. Half-way up one of the walls, there is a kind of footbridge called Camino del Rey (the King’s Walk), but it is not sure whether it is safe to use. The road continues towards the Guadalhorce reservoir. After less than a kilometre, there are signposts for El Chorro and for Bobastro, an interesting Mozarab church hewn out of the rock.
Skirting the reservoir from there for a short time (the reservoir should always be on the right), Ardales is reached shortly afterwards. This is a small village surrounded by corn fields and olive groves.
Carratraca lies at a distance of 7km. Its most outstanding feature is the old spa dating from 1847 and occupying a lovely Neo-Classical building. The glazed-tile patio with a pavilion in the centre still preserves unchanged all the 19C charm of this kind of establishment. It is only open in the summer. Near the spa there is the Town Hall occupying a Neo-Caliphal building with a more fantastic than historicist decoration.
There are only 18km left to be back in Alora.
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