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Northern & Antequera

Northern & Antequera

In Sierra de Yeguas, whose surroundings are very plain and agricultural, the most recognised monument is the 18th century Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción (Church of Immaculate Conception. This building sticks out through all the white houses with their beautifully latticed windows and doors. The archaeological sites in Sierra de Yeguas have revealed a very interesting story to the town.

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.

This small town of barely 5,000 inhabitants north-west of Antequera is probably most famous for its cadaverous celebrity El Tempranillo, the legendary 19th century bandit born in nearby Jauja and buried in Alameda's Iglesía de la Purísima Concepción church. The so-called Principe de la Sierra, prince of the mountains, is the most colourful of Andalucía's many bandit heroes.

This peaceful little town of less than 8000 inhabitants, equidistant between the Costa del Sol, Granada and Sevilla, has been an important cattle farming, leather production and mining centre since Roman times. Archaeological digs in the vicinity have uncovered Roman architecture and coins, as well as brass busts of Octavius, Claudius, Constantine and Trajan. Nowadays, however, it is mainly known as one of the key stops on the Algeciras-Bobadilla 'Mr Hendersons railway' line.

To my mind, one of the nicest drives inland from the Costa del Sol and Malaga is out towards Loja and Granada on the A 359, turning off at the A333 to Villanueva de Tapia. This little village of just 2,000 inhabitants is 85 kilometres from Malaga City and at sits at around 660 metres above sea level. It teeters between two worlds.

High on a rocky saddle in the mountains east of Ronda, some 15km north of Ardales, the small (pop: 4,000) town of Teba has one of the most extraordinary historical connections of any of Andalucía's pueblos. Like many of its neighbours - although Teba doesn't have that many neighbours in this wild, semi-agricultural mountain region - Teba has a history stretching back to Roman and Neolithic times. Its true to claim to fame.

Only around 50km northwest of Malaga is some surprisingly rugged landscape with a dramatic gorge, several immense reservoirs and a scattering of Moorish towns and villages with intriguing histories. Also here is one of the most impressive limestone landscapes in Europe, the Torcal de Antequera Natural Area.

In the north of Málaga Province, about 50 kilometres from Málaga City (and 20 kilometres from Antequera), at the foothills of the Sierra de Gracia, is the welcoming village of Archidona. Bordering on the Granada Province, Archidona sits at the very centre of Andalucia, 660 metres above sea level. This rural community dominates the valley over which it presides.

There has been a human settlement on the site of this small town (current population just over 3,500) since Neolithic times. Just 15km north-west of Antequera on the A92, on the lower slopes of the Sierra de Mollina, this is set in perfect olive and cereal country. It is also a mere ten km from the Laguna de Fuente de la Piedra lake, famous for its pink flamingos.

The village of Fuente de Piedra (with a population of approximately 2,000) is close to the Natural park and lake; Laguna de Fuente de Piedra. Due to the presence of the lake, it seems that man has been in this area since prehistoric times. Later, commercial links were maintained with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. During Roman times, the lake was named "Fons Divinus" or divine spring, due to the medicinal properties of the water.

If you are searching for hidden treasure, the white village of Villanueva del Rosario could be a good starting point. Easily accessible at 39 kilometres north of Malaga City, just 2.5 kilometres off the main Malaga/Granada (A359) road, legend has it that during Roman times treasure was buried beneath the Peñon de Solis (3 kilometres from the village centre) and to this day it has never been recovered.