|May, June are the best month for flowers in Andalucia.|
100 km - 1 1/2 hours
Leave Cordoba on the NIV motorway following signs for Sevilla. The road climbs out of the plains of the River Guadalquivir. After 15km take the right fork N331 for Antequera. This road is one of the last remaining major routes in Andalucia which is not yet dual carriageway. Take your time and don't be impatient to overtake!
The rolling hills are farmed with grain, sunflowers, olives, vines and more sunflowers. May is perhaps the prettiest month when the sunflowers are in full bloom. If you are interested in ceramics, visit the village of La Rambla.
Continue south on the N331 crossing rolling meadows. Descend and cross the river Anzar. At km 90 look out for the church of the village of Encina Reales on the skyline. The main road still passes through this village. Slow down.
You then descend and cross the deep gorge of the River Genil which is flowing north west (curiously not south to the coast) from Granada to meet the mighty River Guadalquivir. A new curved steel bridge whisks us across the gorge.
A little further south a lofty clock tower breaks the horizon at the village of Aguilar. The road skirts the town.
After Aguilar only a few km off the road you can take the C329 to the natural area of the Las Lagunas de Zonar .
Turn off the road just before Lucena on the A430 for the village of Cabra where the famous Gipsy festival is held in May each year. This road leads into the Natural Park of the Sierra de Subbetica and the town of Priego de Cordoba. Before Cabra branch of the A340 onto the A316 for the interesting villages of Zuheros , Luque and Baena.
Lucena is the most famous town in Andalucia for furniture. Local cottage industry craftsmanship does still exist but you are more likely to find modern factory showrooms selling direct to the public at very reasonable prices.
If you take the A331 you will reach the village of Rute. Thanks to its abundant supply of pure water from the hills and "matalahuga" (seeds from the aniseed plant) the town has developed a thriving aniseed liqueur (anis) industry. You can find out all about the anise industry at the Museo de Anís in the town, and get a chance to sample it before you purchase. The 'aguardiente' is very strong, be careful! If you are going to put the liqueurs- and there are lots of different flavours, including coffee, spearmint, cherry, caramel, pacharan (sloe)- through their paces, you could always book into the charming Hotel Maria Luisa first. There are two other museums of interest to visit in Rute, the Museo de Jamon (traditional ham) and the Museo De Dulces de Navidad (Christmas sweetmeats famous throughout Spain.) Just outside the town on the road to Iznajar you can visit a donkey sanctuary set up to try and preserve the threatened giant Andaluz donkey. The redoubtable Pascual, who's always pleased to see visitors, dedicates his life to the thirty or so donkeys currently in the sanctuary.
Continuing south on this road, you will pass the village of Iznajar, which overlooks the massive Iznajar reservoir. A good road connects the village with the motorway to the south. On the way we pass the entrance to the exclusive Hotel Bobadilla, one of the most luxurious in Southern Europe. It was originally a huge country estate. The drive from the main gate to the hotel itself is several miles long. A little further south notice the little aerodrome by the road at km 115.
A very long straight road now leads us to the A92 Seville - Granada Motorway.
For Seville take the slip road on the right just before the motorway. For Granada and Malaga take the sharp turning on the right immediately after crossing over the motorway. Be careful, as this one is easy to miss particularly at night. Continue straight on for the town of Antequera itself.
Antequera is known as the crossroads of Andalucia. Look out for the so-called Lovers Rock, Peña de los Enamorados, a striking rocky hill standing alone to the east of the motorway towards Malaga. 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. Rather than renounce their love, they chose to hurl themselves into the abyss.