The natural characteristics have turned Antequera into a passage and settlement place for several communities which, since the Paleolithic period, have settled in the Iberian Peninsula. However, our main prehistoric remains come from the Bronze Age, such as the Dolmen Complex of Menga, Viera and El Romeral, dated between 2500 and 2000 B.C.
Some Latin villages, such as Antikaria, Singilia Barba, Oscua and Aratispi, and more than 150 villas bear witness of an intense process of Romanization of these lands. The Efebo (ephebe) of Antequera, which has been catalogued as the most beautiful piece from classical period in our country, comes from one of these archaeological sites and it is shown in the Museum of the Antequera Town (MVCA).
The Arab conquest consolidated a very important center of population called Medina Antaquira that, since the mid-13th century, after the conquest of Sevilla and Jaen, became an important border military fort. Due to its location, the Castilian Monarchs realized that it was the key to enter into the Granada kingdom and, as such, they tried to conquer it several times. It was the Infante Don Fernando “the one from Antequera” who, finally, on the 16th of September 1410, defeated the Arabs.
When the Granada kingdom was conquered by the Castilian Monarchs (1492), Antequera changed from being a garrison town to a zone of urban and demographic expansion.
In the 16th century, Antequera became one of the most important towns of Andalucia thanks to the great trade activity generated by the control exercised over the freight traffic between the main crossroads of Sevilla-Granada and that of Málaga-Córdoba (a linchpin still in force).
The founding of the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor brought in important cultural movements, such as the Chair of Grammar and Latin, where, among others, Juan de Vilches, Pedro Espinosa and Cristobalina Fernadez de Alarcón created the Antequera Group of Poets of Mannerism and Baroque styles.
In this period, Antequera gathers a very rich artistic heritage. The Parish Churches of San Sebastian, San Juan Bautista, San Pedro, San Isidro and Santa María de la Esperanza are built. It is also when several Religious Orders start to establish themselves in Antequera in the convents of San Zoilo, San Agustín, El Carmen and La Encarnación. Together with the Religious buildings, great Civil constructions were being erected, such as the Arco de los Gigantes (Giants’ Arch), Templete de Papabellotas (tower-bell gazebo), Casa del Cabildo de la Plaza Alta, (Mayor’s House in the High Square), etc..
The main artistic styles during the 17th and 18th centuries were the Mannerism and Baroque, which will define the Antequera’s urban aesthetics. The churches of La Trinidad, Jesuitas (Loreto) and Santo Domingo were built and those of Belén, San Juan de Dios and Los Remedios were started. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, it is erected one of the most emblematic monuments of the Baroque Antequera: the Tower of the Collegiate Church of San Sebastian, being the plasterworks and altarpieces the most outstanding elements.
It could be siad that, during the 18th century, Antequera became the town of the churches of white and looped plasterworks, of brick facades and very much decorated interiors; the town of the town-planning redesign, of the Fraternities and worships to very much concrete images. It is now when the churches of La Victoria, Descalzas, Santa Catalina, Madre de Dios, Santa Eufemia, Santiago, Santa Clara, la Caridad, la Escuela de Cristo, San Miguel, etc., are erected. Indeed, we should not forget how important the silversmiths were in this century. It was then when the silversmith’s Fraternity of San Eloy was founded.
There was a popular architecture with peculiar characteristics, besides the construction by the nobility of palaces and manor houses of great beauty. Some examples are the Palace of the Marquis of Villadarias, of the Earl of Pinofiel, Earl of Colchado, Earl of Valdellano, Baron of Sabasona, etc.
Despite a fall in population, in the 19th century Antequera starts to recover itself with the subsequent increase of inhabitants and an important economic revival. It will be the bourgeoisie the one to take the industrial initiative through craftwork activities, in particular, the wool textile industry.
The 20th century starts with an unbalance structure of the property, with an extensive primary sector more and more specialized in the farming of cereals and olive trees and with the gradual decline of the industrial sector that will only reappear during the 70s and 80s.
Now, in the present 21st century, we are living a strong and progressive increase of the tourist activity,
thanks to our privileged geographic location and boosted by the multimodal transport network which has made of Antequera the epicenter of any operation of communication infrastructure from the South of Europe. Of course, we should not forget to mention the many years devoted to the preservation of our historic-artistic heritage, expressed in the redesign of the Museum of the Town.