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‘Lovers’ Leap’ in the distance- or maybe a slumbering giant?

We took two trips to the town of Antequera, about 45 minutes away. Andalucia.com describes Antequera as ‘the crossroads of Andalucia’:

‘A visit to this historical Andalucían town is a journey almost 5,000 years back in time, beginning with the Bronze Age and the native Iberians. The timeline is there to be followed in this fascinating city’s profusion of burial mounds, dolmens, Roman baths, a Moorish Castle, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains and baroque bell towers.

The first sighting of Antequera in the distance is that of a typical medieval town, with the spires of her many churches and the walls and towers of the great Moorish fortress silhouetted against the sky. Spread out in the valley below lie rich farmlands irrigated by the Guadalhorce River. For centuries this has been one of Andalucía’s most fertile areas, and is currently a leading producer of asparagus, cereals and olives. In summer, its fields turn brilliant yellow with sunflowers.

The enormous crag of limestone of 880 metres high, that overlooks the town and valley of Antequera (see picture, top) is known as La Peña de los Enamorados, or “The Lovers’ Leap”. The name comes from a local legend about an impossible love affair between a young Christian man from Antequera and a beautiful Moorish girl from nearby Archidona, who were driven to the top of the cliff by the Moorish soldiers, where, rather than renounce their love, they chose to hurl themselves into the abyss.The romantic fable was adapted by 18th century poet Robert Southney in his poem Laila and Manuel about two lovers: a Muslim girl and her father’s Christian slave.

The mountain is also sometimes known as “Montaña del Indio” due to its resemblance to a native Indian from certain angles.’ (It does rather look like a slumbering giant?)

Prior to a rain-soaked walk around the town (ending up with cream cakes and afternoon tea in a rather good cafe), we first visited some of the ancient dolmens on the edge of the town; megalithic burial mounds, dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. The reception building and associated explanatory video were excellent.

 

The dolmen called Menga is thought to be the largest such structure in Europe (25 metres long, 5 metres wide and 4 metres high), and was built with thirty-two megaliths, the largest weighing about 180 tonnes. After completion of the chamber (which probably served as a grave for the ruling families) and the path leading into the centre, the stone structure was covered with earth and built up into the hill that can be seen today. When the grave was opened and examined in the 19th century, archaeologists found the skeletons of several hundred people inside.

Later in the week we explored the town more properly (again seeming to be on auto pilot for cakes and afternoon tea). The old fortress and it’s environs were especially interesting and well-restored, with some good quality, sympathetic newer housing alongside…

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Several of the nearby houses had front door curtains in fabrics in jolly patterns including the story of Don Quixote…

So having seen more of the local area, as well as the ‘jewels in the crown’ of Granada and Cordoba, what more could we fit in before the end of the week in Andalucia?

 

Old School Gardener