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The History of Seven Towns in the Area of Antequera – in the centre of Andalusia

Diputación de Málaga
Antequera. Interior. Dolmen de Menga

The History of Seven Towns in the Area of Antequera – in the centre of Andalusia

Central location of the area has had a great impact on economic issues

The area of Antequera in the north of the Province of Málaga is 1,148 kilometres square large and has had a strategic location for ages. Its natural boarders are: Cordoba’s and Sevillian countryside in the north and northeast, Málaga’s mountains and the Guadalhorce Valley in the south, the foothills of the Serranía de Ronda in the west and southwest, and Loja in the east. It is mainly covered in Antequera Hollow, which is placed at the westernmost part of the Intrabaetic Basin. There are seven villages and towns in Antequera: Alameda, Antequera, Casabermeja, Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero, Mollina y Villanueva de la Concepción.

The centre of the area and also the centre of human activities is in the plain where the upper course of the river Guadalhorce flows (the river flows into the sea close to Málaga). This plain’s name is the Plain of Antequera (‘Los Llanos’).

The area has large plains and wavy fields with many hills and mountains. This territory has a favoured position as it is considered to be the geostrategic centre of Andalusia and the connection between main Andalusian cities. The creation of motorways close to the towns in the area makes them more stable as it brings economic variety through job opportunities and, therefore, greater demographic stability.

If you take a walk in the old town, you will see typical Andalusian buildings, with whitewashed houses and balconies with iron railings. The area has plenty of monuments, art and archaeological sites in every town and village, above all in Antequera with most pieces which remind of different cultures that lived together.

Antequera Hollow’s natural features had turned it into a place where different communities started to settle and travel through in the Middle Paleolithic on the Iberian Peninsula. However, the most important prehistoric ruins, like the dolmens in Menga, Viera and El Romeral, from between 2,500 and 2,000 BC, are from the Bronze Age.

Alameda has a necropolis from the Copper Age (from 2,500 to 2000 BC), Roman baths from 1st to 3rd centuries AD, and grain storages from the Copper Age which are considered National Monument. The town got famous for José María ‘El Tempranillo’, an outlaw from the period called a Romantic period of Andalusian bandits. He is an example of a generous bandit who stole from rich people in order to help the poor.

Antequera is placed on a chalky hill with an Arab castle. It was created over an Iberian fortress which was later transformed into a Roman town called Antikaria (the Old Town).
There is not much data about Antequera from the 4th to the beginning of the 15th century. The arrival of Arabs, who gave it name of Medina Antaqira, brought new conflicts which started after the fall of the Omayyad dynasty of the Caliphate of Córdoba.

In the middle of the 13th century, after Seville and Jaén had been conquered, Antaquira started to become important military fortress at the border. Castilian monarchs understood that it was the key to the kingdom of Granada and tried to take it several times. Finally,  Ferdinand I of Aragon, or Ferdinand of Antequera, conquered the town on 16th September 1410. 

A rich cultural heritage, which includes parishes, churches, religious orders, monasteries and civil buildings, was created throughout 15th and 16th century. In the 16th century, Antequera became one of the most important cities in Andalusia due to the trade that was carried out there and because it was the connection point between the towns of Seville and Granada and Málaga and Córdoba.

When the Catholic Monarchs founded the Collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor [St Mary Major], it became very important for cultural life of Antequera. It had Grammar and Latin seminars where many important scholars taught. As for art, the 17th century in Antequera enclosed Mannerism and Baroque Period.

Farming, craftmanship and trade were rising quickly in the 18th century, which was the reason why Antequera was going through the best moment in its history. The style of 18th-century art consisted of churches with curly white plasterwork, brick on the outside and plenty of decorations inside; refurbished towns, the art performed in brotherhoods and the use of particular images for worship. There was also a very popular architectural style with peculiar features, which was reflected in palaces and large beautiful houses.

In the 19th century, there was a decrease in population due to yellow fever in 1804. The town’s recovery started in 1830 together with increase in the number of inhabitants and improvement in economy, when the 25% of population depended on the elaboration of woollen fabrics which were traded all over Spain. 

Casabermeja, known as the Door to Málaga’, has a rich cultural heritage. Rocky caves from Peñas de Cabrera with paintings from the Copper Age stand out, as well as San Sebastián cemetery, which is famous for the legend about two people who were buried in standing position and it has been declared Cultural Heritage Monument.

Fuente de Piedra which was named after a spring with water that was used for medicinal purposes, has the church of Our Lady of Virtue and the largest salty lagoon in Andalusia, where the greater flamingo reproduces.

Humilladero has a cross which a village was named after. It was in 1410 when Ferdinand I of Aragon waited for Per Afán de Ribera with the reinforcement from Seville and the sword that belonged to King Ferdinand III of Castile, called the Saint. He kneeled in front of the relic and promised to keep the sword unsheathed until he had conquered Antequera. This is why the cross was built as a symbol and reminder of that feat.

The village of Mollina also has a rich cultural heritage, such as Roman baths in Castillo de Santillán from between 1st and 2nd AD. It also covers the highest percentage of wine production with appellation of origin designation in Málaga and the Sierras de Málaga.
Villanueva de la Concepción is known as the ‘Capital of the South of Torcal’, and also has important sites like bridges (Garrayo and Horcajo) along the road of King Carlos III, called ‘Camino Real’ [Royal Way] .

The following links will provide you with the information about the history of these towns and villages, which are what they are today thanks to their past:
Fuente de Piedra
Villanueva de la Concepción.