El Torcal & the Dolmens of Antequera

The Ancient City of Antequera

Little known outside of Andalusia until recently, the ancient city of Antequera in Malaga province has gained a lot of international recognition of late. Much of this renewed attention comes thanks to the Antequera Dolmens Site being awarded a UNESCO World Heritage designation in July of 2016; however, the town has held strategic importance for millennia. So old is the settlement, dating back at least as far as the Bronze age, that the Romans already named the site Antequaria, the ancient city, before the time of Christ. The architecture within the city, including the old Moorish fortress and the ancient dolmens, reveals a timeline beginning 5,000 years ago and passing through the Phoenician and Roman epochs, Islamic influences, and a wealth of Renaissance and Baroque buildings.

Today Antequera is known as “the heart of Andalusia” for its central location midway between Malaga to the south and Cordoba to the north, Sevilla to the west and Granada to the east. Its illustrious and extensive history makes it a fascinating stop, and its central location makes it easily accessible for day trips from Cortijo El Carligto. Its unique history and recent UNESCO designation likely explain why the New York Times identified Antequera as one of its “52 Places to Go in 2017,” an annual list of international must-see destinations.

El Torcal and the Dolmens

Antequera has been referenced as the “Spanish Stonehenge” for the three dolmens located in the city. These 5,000 year old megalithic burial sites are the largest such structures in Europe, and unique in that virtually all other similar dolmens on the continent face the sunrise at equinox, while these face natural mountainscapes, including those of El Torcal. The largest of the stones used to construct the largest of the three dolmens is estimated to weigh 180 tonnes and the chambre reaches a height of four metres.

The El Torcal mountain nature park is included in Antequera’s UNESCO designation thanks to its connection to the dolmens as a focal point from one of the entrances and its enigmatic limestone structures, which form one of the most bedazzing “karst” landscapes in Europe. A hike through the park reveals a bizarre grouping of enormous rock formations appearing like giant stacks of flat stone. The distinctive formations result from eons of erosion, including from the fact that 150m years ago the mountain lay in a marine corridor underwater, but was later pushed to a height of more than 1300 metres.

Lover's Rock

The largest of the dolmens opens directly facing a distinctive and enormous 880m high crag of limestone that overlooks the town and valley of Antequera. The formation resembles the profile of a sleeping giant’s head; however, its name, La Peña de los Enamorados (Lover’s Rock), derives from a legend about a forbidden love between a Christian and a Moor who threw themselves from atop the rock instead of acquiescing to a life apart.

A Unique Tour of Antequera

Your tour begins with a visit to the impressive and beguiling landscapes of El Torcal, and continues with a visit to the three famous megalithic dolmens of Antequera. From here you can’t help but marvel at the Lover’s Rock dominating the horizon immediately before the largest of the dolmens; your tour will continue with a closer look at this historic landmark. At lunchtime you’ll find yourself in Antequera for a memorable tasting menu that recovers the historic Malagueña cuisine. After lunch, enjoy a pleasant stroll around Antequera for Renaissance memories before returning to El Carligto.

At a Glance:

- This unique tour of Antequera is a 10 hour trip from 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
- Private vehicle and driver if desired
- Private guide
- Tasting menu for lunch (food and drinks)
- Entrance tickets and all taxes
- To book, enquire further, or for any additional details please get in touch here

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