AREA: 187,10 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 716 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 590 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE 15 ºC POPULATION, CENSUS 1994: 10,340
HISTORY AND LANDSCAPE
The Archidona territory extends over the western division of the Antequera region among olive fields and pastures, in which the copses and holm-oak woods share the landscape with cereal fields. But although Archidona shows its sierra with pride, it jealously hides some of the marvels which nature has given it. It is necessary to enter difficult pathways, in order to contemplate some beautiful spots. To the south of the town, from the road to Villanueva del Trabuco, there is a pathway which enters by the Marin brook into one of the prettiest spots in the province: La Hoz del Arroyo Marín. There, the forest of indigenous pines climbs the almost vertical walls of the Hoz, while at the bottom, the noise of the water breaks the silence of the wild vegetation which grows at the banks of the brook. Another spot, not as spectacular as the previous one, but of great ecological interest, is the shelter of the Lagunas de Archidona, la Chica and la Grande; to get there, you also have to use a dirt track which comes from the access to Malaga by las Pedrizas.
Because of the sunny spot of the Archidona sierra, Archidona presents one of the most attractive urban landscapes in Andalusia. Under the protection of the Conjuro peak (1.012 m.) is the sanctuary of the Virgen de Gracia, which used to be a mosque (and is still conserved). The sanctuary stands vigil from the ruins of the old castle in the city, giving this urban landscape an unmistakable identity sign.
Archidona is another town of Malaga which possesses a priviliged location from a geographical point of view, especially in the communications between Granada and Sevilla. But before these two cities reached the importance they had later, Archidona was already an important township
The numerous archaeological remains found in the area and mainly in the caves of the nearby Sierra del Conjuro, as well as in the gorge which separates this sierra from the one with the sanctuary, makes one think that the first inhabitants were here in prehistory. But it would be the Turdulos and Phoenicians who established the most important townships, the latter giving the original name of Escua or Osqua - main head. It also seems to be that it was the Phoenicians who started the outline of the walls, in which one can appreciate the Carthaginian, Roman and Arab techniques of its remains.
Archidona played an important part in the rebellion of the muladí, Omar Ben Hafsun (year 879), who converted it into a fort square. After the defeat of the rebels, the influence of the caliphate of Cordoba would suppose a phase of great prosperity, until the forming of the Kingdoms of Taifas ended this phase of splendour. The chronicles relate that at the end of the 11th century, Archidona and Antequera "were reduced to a dreadful waste land". With the Nazarí kingdom of Granada, Archidona was revived and the silk industry fomented. But the prosperity wasnt going to last long and soon skirmishes began which made the territory unsafe until it was openly implicated in the war between the Christians and Muslims, which lasted until 1462 in which the Christians took over the city.
The city was formed at the beginning of the 16th century when they started building the Villa Baja.
Places to Visit
More than a dozen monuments and other places of scenic and archaeological interest form the historical-artistical offer in Archidona, a city which has earned such an official declaration.The best examples of religious and civil architecture are brought together in the old part of town.
The Nazarene chapel, annexed to the old school of the Escolapios which is a high school today, was built at the end of the 17th century. The church of the Victoria which is situated in front of the Town Hall, is of great interest for its front and brick belfry. The convent of the Minimas conserves a church of the mid 18th century which has a tower (1789) with a stone base and a glassed ceramic capital.
The symbol of Archidona, nevertheless, is the Plaza Ochavada in which the master-builders, Astorga and González Sevilla took six years to build. This urban space was inspired by the French urbanism and Mudejar Andalucian tradition.
In the highest part of the city, in which there is a unique panorama of the city and the nearby plains, there are remains of the old castle and the medieval wall, as well as the chapel which was built in honour of the virgin of Gracia. A mosque was erected here, which was consecrated as a church after the reconquest, and inside there are still remains of it, like the columns and the same space configuration.
At the beginning of the 16th century, they began to build a new church in honour of Santa Ana, today a parish. The project was due to the fact that the walled precinct of Archidona bacame too small because of the population growth, which expanded over the foot of the mountain. The church suffered various modifications at the end of the last century, but still retains some traces of the late Gothic in which it was erected, such as its primitive high altar. It is worth mentioning its star-shaped vault which crowns the poligonal head and the spectacular baroque altarpiece of the high altar. The most singular building is the old Cilla, which today is the county council..
Other places of interest near the town, are the archaeological sites of cortijo de San Vicente (prehistoric necropolis), the Samiaja (artificial prehistoric cave), the Castillon (also prehistoric), the Alcaidía (Roman villa), the Cueva de las Granjas, and for their scenic interest are the Hoz de Marín, the holm-oak woods and the natural reserve of the Lagunas de Archidona.
The craftmanship production is based on canework, forge, tin and dry string ceramics.
The popular gastronomy which has a series of creations apt for consuming all year round are: pickled fish, mayonnaise soup, egg stew, bread and oil soup, and cod. Popular winter dishes are: lamb soup, Moorish stew, grape porridge, trotter stew, breadcrumbs fried with garlic, stew. Summer dishes are: cold soups, peppers, and fritters. And the traditional pastrymaking are: cakes made with oil, lardy buns, rusks, and fritters with honey. Olive oil and buns complete this good food.
FESTIVITIES AND TRADITIONS
The patron saint's festivities in honour of the Virgen de Gracia are celebrated between the 14th and 19th of August, with a pilgrimage to the sanctuary which is at the highest part of the city. This popular manifestation has the peculiarity of starting on the afternoon of the 14th of August and ends in the early hours of the morning on the 15th before the chapel of the castle where the linen with the image of the virgin is venerated, and which according to the tradition was brought as a banner by the villages conqueror, the grand master, Calatrava Don Pedro Telléz, on the 28th of July 1462.
At Easter there is a splendour of images and thrones, Corpus Christi, the Porra Flamenca which takes place in July in the Plaza Ochavada. The local festivities are in San Isidro and for San Juan with the traditional bonfires and burning of manikins "júas". In August there is a poetry competition and in the San Antonio suburbs they celebrate the Feria del Perro (Dog Fair) and in the Estación suburb are the San Aurelio festivities on the 27th of July.