Get to Know the Region


The natural passages that allowed the communication crossed the big plains of Antequera-Fuente de Piedra and the mountain pass of El Chorro-Alcaparaín. They were first open by animals and, approximately 600,000 later used by the first humans, who used the banks of the rivers Guadalteba and Turón to survive. These passages have been the way in and out of the region for people ever since prehistory and up to today.

Palaeolithic hunters and harvesters societies have left evidences in numerous places like river terraces and gravel deposits among which we must highlight the ones on Guadalteba River in its way through Parque Guadalteba, in Campillos. However, in the Cave of Ardales, Palaeolithic hunters left a wonderful art collection of 20,000 years old. The animals, signs and negative hands of these artists are the best testimony of our first culture.

The farmer tribes of the Neolithic and up to the Bronze Age steadily occupied this territory 8,000 years ago. The shepherds and first farmers lived stationary in caves and open hamlets. Among these caves, we must highlight Las Palomas, in Teba, la Sima de los Murciélagos, in Carratraca, and the upper galleries of the Cave of Ardales. As for the open sites we must mention the necropolis of Las Aguilillas, in Campillos, and numerous villages and hamlets which some 4,000 years later would become the city centre of the current villages.

In the Bonze Era, our territory turned into an essential place for the links between Guadalquivir, Beticas Mountains and the Mediterránean. The villages are located strategically in order to control the commercial routes, as is the case of Almargen, Cuevas del Becerro and Ardales.

The new ideas brought by the Phoenicians transformed the economy, architecture, metallurgy, etc., that, however did not completely change the indigenous life style.

Iberian Era marks the full development of indigenous societies, with its big and fortified villages like the one in Los Castillejos (Teba), Castillón (Campillos) or La Peña (Ardales), among others. These villages are part of a control system that, eventually, the Romans would use to introduce a slavery-based economy. Teba surroundings catch our interest due to the quantity of archaeological sites belonging to this era and the numerous villas and sculptural findings found in this village. Also worth mentioning is the Roman bridge over Turón River in Ardales.

There have been discovered many archaeological sites of this first phase in the Region of Guadalteba, a fact that shows the successful Romanization process of the Iberian population.

Among these stands out the city of Flavia Sabora, in Cañete la Real, or Cortijo del Tajo, in Teba. Its purpose was to control the agricultural exploitations in the region and the routes that connected it to the rivers Guadalquivir and Genil, and, of course, to Malaga’s coast.

We must also mention the numerous villas – pillars of the Roman civilization –, the ancient Roman bathing in Haza de Estepa, Cerro Sanchez in Sierra de Yeguas and Tesorillo in Campillos, as well as the Roman kilns in the villa of Casa de las Viñas (Cuevas del Becerro), in which the amphoras used to contain oil were made.

The end of Ancient History is marked by the necropolis of Eras and the Platform of Peñarrubia, in Parque Guadalteba – some of the best examples of this cultural period.
 THE MIDDLE AGES.-  The Region of Guadalteba started to take its current shape during the Middle Ages. Our mountains and valleys where inhabited by farmers who kept a late-Roman lifestyle and way of thinking, that is, typical agricultural habits and Christian faith. The archaeological remains found across the region prove the existence of an important native community known by the Islamic invaders as “Mozarabs”. At the end of 9th century and beginnings of the 10th, the Emirate of Cordoba – still ruling at that time – had to face one of the most important revolts in the history of Andalusia, an ideological and strategic clash inside our region and, specially, in its capital, the city of Bobastro.
The numerous architectural and archaeological Mozarab remains spread over the territory of Guadalteba, reaching its artistic peak around the archaeological area of Bobastro, where still stands a monastery and its cave church excavated in the mountain.

We cannot forget that dating back of this late medieval epoch are the original fortresses of the Region of Guadalteba: Castillón in Bobastro, Canit Castle in Cañete la Real and La Peña in Ardales.

Once the revolt was extinguished, the Caliphate of Cordoba and the later Islamic kings made a big military effort in this area, building several fortresses and strengthening the ones already mentioned. The first to be improved were the castles of La Estrella in Teba and Turón in Ardales, together with the support of fortresses like Priego in Cañete la Real and Castillejos in Cuevas del Becerro. All these constructions made up a fortification network, accompanied by numerous farms and agricultural exploitations like Ortegícar in Cañete la Real – from which still remains the tower and the bridge – and El Capellán in Ardales, with its innovative irrigation system.

The continuous war on the borders pushed the Castilian Kingdom into the territory over a period of more than a century, incorporating it completely to the Christian kingdom by the end of the 15th century.

From the subsequent centuries still remains in the Region of Guadalteba several and notorious religious buildings, an outstanding collection of churches from various styles from which we cannot highlight one over the others since they all have interesting and original elements. Fortunately, their villages keep them alive and well conserved, in general.   There was also a monastery network in Guadalteba: Franciscan monks funded religious communities in Cañete la Real, Teba and Ardales throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Although Teba’s only conserves its façade, artistic and architecture elements of great interest remain in the monasteries of Cañete la Real and Ardales, the latter still holding religious ceremonies.
In the 17th century is established the convent of the Order of Carmel in Cañete la Real, which is still inhabited and conserves the main building and the convent church. The nouns in this convent keep singing the mass and selling hand-made confectionary through the “torno”, a revolving pass-through similar to a 'lazy Susan’, the only connection to the outside world.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the countryside lost most of its social and economic significance. There are few elements we can point out from this period except for the railway (that would later have a direct impact on the tourist offer) or the water works, from which we must mention the area of Guadalhorce Reservoirs – specifically the emblematic reservoir of El Chorro and Caminito del Rey –, a group of big artificial lakes within the municipalities of Ardales, Campillos and Teba.