Laguna de Fuente Piedra is a lake about 20 km north of Antequera (on the road to Sevilla) and is synonymous with flamingoes. This is one of the most important breeding site of the species in all of Europe where at its peak, numbers reach up to 30,000 birds. It does seem unlikely that flamingoes and dozens of other species converge in this relatively small lake that is very close to an industrial town. We were quite disconcerted as we approached, as we wondered how it is possible that a lake could be hidden or tucked away just behind some huge industrial and warehouse facilities. But indeed there it was! And we would learn shortly what the secret of that lake was, why it attracts flamingoes especially.
Laguna de Fuente de Piedra is a saltwater lake, and this is why it is an important station for these birds. Even in the Roman times, the lake was exploited for its salt, and even up to the 19th century. The lake can produce up to 20,000 cubic meters of salt. Today, however, the lake is a natural reserve and is included in the Ramsar Convention.
Around the lake are smaller pools of water where birds converge, and hiking trails are well marked around them. Viewing huts are scattered in strategic sides of the smaller pools, so it is possible to watch the birds comfortably without disturbing them. There is also a visitors center where binoculars can be rented for a very minimal fee (1 euro for 2 hrs). The video program is worth watching (there is an English translation).
We went in late December and managed to see about 15 different species, though only a single flamingo. Apparently, flamingoes only arrive around February. We did see some interesting ducks and small birds which are notoriously difficult to observe.
A little gem of a place for nature lovers. Just time your visit for when the beautiful pink creatures are there -- from Feb all through spring.
When thinking in Antequera, one of the most interesting sights is its dolmens.
The closest ones to the city are the ones of Menga & Viera. It is just outside Antequera in direction to Malaga before the industrial Area
A 30 minute drive West of Antequera is the small town of Teba which boasts one of the few castles (ruin )in the area. The Castillo de la Estrella. originally built by the Romans, can be seen for miles around and is one of the reasons that Teba has been declared of historical interest. If you're a keen bird watcher, this is great territory for spotting some amazing birds - Kites, Vultures, Kestrels (so I'm told).
The town is a typical, small white town with 4500 inhabitants but sees it fair share of visitors due to the castle and a famous 18th century church that was built by the same guy who built the cathedral in Seville. It has impressive red marble columns mined and crafted locally and displays a fair collection of silver and gold items, chalices, lecterns and religious outfits.
The Archaelogical Museum in the 'Casa de Cultura', in the main square, exhibits Neolithic findings from the local Paloma caves.
For a great day driving and marvelling, head for the towns of Setenil and Olvera. Although both in the Cadiz province, it's easy driving west of Antequera (on the Jerez road) and takes about 45-50 mins.
Setenil is a small unspoilt town that has the most amazing 'overhanging crag' (not sure of the technical term!) under/in which are a number of occupied houses, shops and bars - it's incredible to see.
It gets very busy here on a sunday with locals lunching and central parking becomes almost impossible. There are a number of typical tapas bars, under the crag and alongside the stream that splits the town in two. The top road then takes a picturesque route that will lead you to Olvera, a gleaming white hill top town with a magnificent castle and huge church.
Great scenery, plenty of photo opportunities, real Spain!
One of the greatest joys of living in a different country is exploring its well-known sites and, better still, uncovering it's lesser known jewels. Here's one such discovery.
Just 50mins outside of Antequera is El Convento de Canos Santos, on the outskirts of Alcala del Valle, near Olvera in the province of Cadiz. It is a building with immense charisma and charm, perched high in the hills with views that will touch your soul.
It has been partially restored with works still under way but you can wander freely through its crumbling arches and courtyards and enjoy an overwhelming sense of calm. If you're planning to drive to either Olvera or Jerez, make sure you stop here on your way - it's worth it.
Fuente de Piedra (approx 15km's from Antequera) there is one of the largest salt water lagoons in Spain that becomes home to 1000's of migrating flamingos during early Spring. They are a sight to behold. The area however, is protected, so although you can walk and drive around the lagoon, you can't get very close! There is a Visitors Centre that has a clear view to the lake and gives information about the 100's of different bird species that can be found in the area.
It's an open, relatively flat area ideal for strolling, cycling or letting your dog run wild.
Fuente de Piedra is sign-posted off the A92 (direction Seville). Once inside the town, follow signs for La Laguna.
Whilst the 3 crystal blue lakes are artificially created by an impressive dam, this does little to detract from the splendour of seeing so much water, so far inland!
The El Chorro area is set in the Guadalhorce valley and is an adventurers paradise. The rock formations are incredible, the enormous gorge is impressive and the walking opportunities are endless. I still marvel at seeing people walking around the cliffs edges and across the bridge over the gorge.
There are a couple of large restaurants with views over the lakes and surrounding pine forrests and during the summer months, the whole area becomes quite a holiday hotspot for the locals.
One of the most spectacular examples of Karstic landscape in Europe can be found just outside Antequera at EL TORCAL DE ANTEQUERA. It covers 11.7 square kilometres and consists of calcite rocks which formed part of the seabed 150 million years ago. The rocks were uncovered after the Ice Age and after breaking up and undergoing severe erosion, they now form amazing shapes and resemble a huge sea of natural stone sculptures.
El Torcal also has a rich and varied flora with more than 664 species of plants. It is also home to a variety of wildlife and in the areas which are most difficult to reach you can often see mountain goats, fox and a great many birds.
Hans, Stace and I went to El Torcal after visiting Antequera. It was quite a drive up the mountain and because we were so high, it was quite cold there, with spots of snow still on the ground. There were some amazing views up there, especially of the town Villanueva de la Conception.
Everybody who come to Antequera says: "Too much for the time i have"... and, certainly, is true.
Antequera have 27 churches, palaces, natural atractions... too much.
Then... a good choice is to get a Tourist Tour to the "Historical Antequera"... it´s about 1 hour and a half, 7 euros/person and it includes the ticket to go into the El Carmen´Church... one of the most beautiful in Antequera (see the picture in this tip). This church have one of the most beautiful altarpieces in Spain...it´s baroque.
You can have this tourist tour Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in 'Plaza del Coso Viejo' (it´s a beautifull square just in front of Antequera´s Museum)... a few meters down from the tourist office in Antequera.
People under 14 are free.
More information on Tourist Office (phone +0034952 70 25 05).
El Torcal de Antequera is a limestone plateau. It is north of Malaga around 45 minutes by car. Teh Mountain range were is sited is called Sierra de Chimenea
At 14 kilometres from Antequera, reception centre, opened morning and afternoon, closed on Monday,
Whilst walking up to the old castle, my son Jaymes experienced his first major bout of vertigo! Even though the path is completely safe (excepting the building work), it does camber quite steeply in places, and Jaymes found himself laying in a gully at the path's side! I thought he was joking, but he was quite stressed. Even Mary had no trouble walking the path, but then she was on a flatter surface!
We were amased to find these wonderful gardens hidden away behind the buildings.
Walk up around the row of cottages, and you come to the ancient wall and the castle 'keep' (square tower). This area was being rebuilt, and laying around the site were these large white marble troughs. This one was broken, unfortunately, but there were others in better condition, obviously discovered during the excavations.
There are several houses inside the compound, and most have been carefully rebuilt or renovated. The occupants are very proud of their houses, and often leave the outer doors open, enabling you to peep inside the colourful entarance areas, usually beautifully tiled.
There are two really nice places to see that could be overlooked. One is the Roman ruins, a little out of town, and the other is the very old Castle. Due to the closeness of the buildings at street level you may not see the walls of the castle. We asked someone for the 'Castello', and the entrance gate, the Arco de las Gigantes, was literally 50 yards away!
I couldn't resist a picture of this aloe, and wasn't thinking about the rest of the view. Nice, isn't it?