Does driving in Spain put you off? No biggie. Thanks to an excellent train system it’s effortless to get out of the city for a day-trip.
By Cat Gaa
Located smack-dab in the middle of the Andalusian province, Antequera is quite literally at the crossroads of Southern Spain. High-speed trains pass through the Santa Ana station and four major airports are located within an hour’s trip. The Málaga airport will put you at the heart of a region where you will have a fulfilling trip without spending a lot on airfare, dining and transportation.There are many cheap flights to Málaga from all over Western Europe.
Dominated by the Sierra del Torcal and the stunning Peñón de los Enamorados, Antequera enjoyed a bright past, evident by its Neolithic burial sites and Roman ruins. Now considered a cultural and historical city, it more than merits a day-trip.
A long weekend with no plans in 2010 meant two friends and I examined a map, looking for a place none of us had been to. Antequera became our perfect Saturday destination. With about 40.000 inhabitants, it’s big enough to entertain for a day while still retaining its small-town charm.
Setting out early, out first order of business was breakfast. Antequera boasts being the birthplace of the ‘mollete,’ a round, flat bun used commonly for toast. It’s light and perfect with a generous helping of olive oil and ham.
Antequera is typically Andalusian, from its winding, cobblestone streets to its rustic taverns and bars. We spent the majority of the day walking the hills, uncovering hidden chapels and exploring the Alcazaba, a fortress sitting atop one of its tallest buttes. Thanks to influence from the Bronze Age, Romans, and Muslims, there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy.
Other points of interest include the dolmens, the bullring and a somber Holy Week celebration. Regardless, it’s a city that will leave you with an impression of Andalusia and is best explored on foot and with a full belly.
For tapas, try La Bombonera (Bombeo Street), whose homemade food is served in small clay pots, or Las Hazuelas for a sit down meal. Ice cream and pastry shops can be found along the Infante Don Fernando Street if you’re looking for something sweet. Apart from the ‘mollete’ bread, Antequera is also famous for ‘porra antequera’, a cousin of ‘salmorejo’ (a sort of cold soup) made of tomatoes, garlic and other vegetables. And because Antequera is just a short drive from Estepa, lard cookies known as ‘mantecados’ are commonly snacked on around the holidays.
If you have a car you can’t miss the whimsical limestone formations at El Torcal. Once an underwater lagoon during the Jurassic Age, the karst landform is one of Europe’s most impressive and also full of wildlife. You can visit after 10am and hike the trails, though come prepared – there’s not much around the visitors center. You can take a taxi from the center of town, too.
Getting there: Due to its location along the A-92 motorway, buses run frequently between Antequera and Seville to the west and Granada to the east. Traveling from Málaga will take about 45 minutes by bus on the A-45. Santa Ana station has high speed trains to Madrid (2’30) and Córdoba (30’), though it’s located outside the city center and you’ll need to hail a taxi.
Cat Gaa left the skyscrapers of Chicago for the olive groves of Southern Spain six years ago. Thanks to having a close friend in Antequera, she and her car, Pequeño Monty, get their fix of molletes often. Catch up with her on her blog, Sunshine and Siestas, or on twitter, @sunshinesiestas.