Visit El Torcal de Antequera in Spain
Located in the north of Malaga province, El Torcal de Antequera is a labyrinth of fascinating, sculpted karst shapes, sculpted by the wind and rain over the millennia. Some of the shapes resemble people, objects, or animals, while others look like something from a fairy tale. This led the site to be considered one of the most spectacular natural sites, not just in Andalucia, but also in the whole of Spain.The karst complex covers a protected area of almost 4.6 square miles (12 square kilometers). The labyrinth has its origins 175 million years ago in the Jurassic period. At that time, while located at an altitude of more than 3,280 feet (1,000 meters), it was covered by the Tethys Sea.
Explore four distinct areas
Meanwhile, the limestone labyrinth is divided into four areas, namely: Torcal Alto, Torcal Bajo, Sierra Pelada and Tajos y Laderas. The first two areas are considered the most striking. Moreover, the rocks have been given names to define their fascinating shapes. For example, one is named Maceta (plant pot), another is Sombrerillo (hat), the Siete Mesas (seven tables) and Cara de Perro (dog’s face). Within the groups of rock shapes, there are endless natural sculptures to be seen.However, one sculpted shape is considered the most striking and has been dubbed El Tornillo (the screw) – pictured above. This limestone shape has been declared a natural monument in Andalucia, while El Torcal and its surroundings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore the alleys of El Torcal de AntequeraBesides the other-worldly shapes, another unusual aspect is the alleys, often very narrow, which run between them, allowing visitors to enter the heart of the karst labyrinth. Moreover, due to its elevated position, El Torcal has an amazing viewpoint, named the Mirador de las Ventanillas. Here, hikers can see the River Campanillas in the valley, and the nearby village of Villanueva de la Concepción. On very clear, dry days, it is possible to see North Africa on the horizon, across the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, besides the amazing limestone shapes, El Torcal has a high ecological value, with more than 600 botanical species represented here. Moreover, besides the flora, the fauna seen here includes mountain goats and foxes. Should the wildlife be seen, visitors should walk quietly so as to not disturb the animals. Another aspect of the area is that numerous birds of prey can be seen, nesting in the rocks.
When should you visit El Torcal?El Torcal de Antequera can be visited at any time of the year including summer. However, it should be noted that inland southern Spain is especially hot during that time. Summer visits are best for sunset hikes and star-gazing in the amazing dark skies of the area.
Find out more about this fascinating geological site on the official website.