Walking through Antequera, Spain between 5 and 5:30pm is like watching a ghost town come back to life. At this time the world renown “siesta,” or “nationally sanctioned nap time” as I like to call it, is coming to an end. After a three-hour hiatus specifically set aside for resting and eating lunch with family and friends, stores are reopening their gates for business and the streets are slowly beginning to fill with people.
I’ve witnessed this scene play out many times before during my travels throughout Spain’s southernmost region of Andalusia: a town being injected with life, a slow rumbling of noise starting to build, small winding roads lined with what seems to be an endless number of bars and restaurants all filled with patrons.
Despite the familiarity of the atmosphere, Antequera feels different. It has a certain charm that partially comes from being a town that makes its contradictions between old and new work so seamlessly together.
The collision of history and modern times is marked by asphalt paved roads that run alongside cobblestone sidewalks which lead to centuries old churches that sit next to HD screen advertisement boards. There are mom and pop stores on every street corner, but that doesn’t translate to a lack of internationally known brands as well. A store selling traditional flamenco style dresses could easily be found next to one selling the latest fashion trends.
While all of this amuses me, perhaps what charms me the most about Antequera is knowing that this beautiful town will be my home for the next year.
When I first found out that my job placement in Spain would be taking me to Antequera, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. “It’s a small ‘pueblo’ (town), but it’s nice,” my Spanish friends told me. Unfortunately the tone of their voices wasn’t too reassuring. “There’s a mall and a movie theater,” was my response. “That should be enough civilization for me.”
Flash forward to the present and now that I have actually spent about a month and a half in Antequera, I have come to realize that this town has so much more to offer than just a mall and movie theater.
Antequera is known as “The Heart of Andalusia” because centuries ago this town, which is now home to about 42,500 inhabitants, was strategically built in the center of this region. Before arriving here, I thought I knew Andalusia fairly well. Now I have the unique opportunity to live in the heart of this region and truly come to know and experience the rich history and culture it has to offer.
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