Torcal de Antequera Natural Area

Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park
 

Overview
Close to Malaga is the small Torcal de Antequera Natural Area.  Although small (12km²) it has one of the most stunning and extraordinary karstic landscapes in Europe. The area dates back from the Jurassic period and is a limestone plateau which has been eroded to leave deep gullies and natural sculptures, like the Tornillo Natural Monument. 

Walking
The natural area has three signposted walks which range from 1½km to 4½km long.  The Ruta Roja (the longest route) provides the walker with a fantastic viewpoint at over 1,000m, where you can see the whole of the Torcal area and, on clear days, the African coastline.

 

Sightseeing
The village of Antequera is one particular place that should be visited.  Overlooking the town and valley is a massive limestone crag called La Peña de los Enamorados, or "The Lovers' Leap".  The town is steeped in history, with burial mounds, Roman baths, Gothic churches and a Moorish castle.

Villanueva de la Concepción is another village that should also be visited.  Again, it has a huge amount of history and has Andalucia’s equivalent to Uluru (the original name now used for Australia's Ayer's Rock.)

El Toro Cave (Cueva del Toro) is home to one of the most important Neolithic sites in the province; the remains of a Roman road can be seen at La Escaleruela Pass.

Animals/Birds
The area is rich in birdlife and has been declared a special protection area for birds.  Raptors seen here include sparrowhawks, common kestrels, peregrines, griffon vultures, Bonelli's eagles. Other birds inhabiting the area include crag martins, black wheateaters and red-billed choughs.
There are few mammals in the park, other than dormice, rabbits, badgers, weasels, foxes and the occasional Spanish ibex. Reptiles however, are numerous, such as ocellated lizards, spine-footed lizards, southern wall lizards, ladder snakes and Montpellier snakes.

Plants
Although the area is rocky and quiet barren, it is still home to over 650 plant species.  Orchids are plentiful, with 30 varieties recorded. Wildflowers, lichens and bracken are abundant here. Rock plants like various species of toadflax grow on the limestone itself. Growing between the rocks are holm oaks, gall oaks, elder, hawthorn and maple.

 

 
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