Tuesday, July 9: On the way to Málaga this morning, we visit the spectacular El Torcal Nature Reserve. On our way we see a crop being harvested and Australian Barry asks Scottish Barry what it is. Scottish Barry guesses it might be onions or garlic, but he keeps reminding Australian Barry that he really doesn’t know much about botany. That doesn’t stop Australian Barry from asking him a lot of questions about trees, flowers, plants and crops in the farmland of southern Spain.
We also pass fields and fields of happy sunflowers, turning their faces to the sun.
Located about 30 km north of Málaga, near Antequera and the village of Villanueva de la Concepción, within El Torcal Park’s 17 square km are some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe. The whole area was under the sea until one hundred million years ago.
Antequera is a town of 40,000 people and has more amenities, such as a hospital, than the sleepy town of Mollina where we’re staying.
Violent movements of the Earth’s crust forced it upward into hills and mountains up to 1.300 meters; at that time, the limestone still kept its layered horizontal formation. Over millions of years, the rain and wind have chiseled away at these layers to form incredible shapes. (El Torcal Nature Reserve)
The blocks of stone have been subjected to both dissolution by water (karstification) and freeze-thaw splitting action which, working on the limestone’s horizontal beds, resulted in the various shapes visible today, many of which resemble, and have been named after, everyday objects such as the Sphinx, the Jug, the Camel, the Screw, etc. Other flat surfaces have been karstified into rugged, rocky lands where travel on foot is difficult (Wikipedia: Torcal de Antequera).
We take a 45 minute walk through the amazing limestone formations. It’s a cool breezy respite from the heat we experienced yesterday in Seville. Before leaving, we walk to a viewpoint where we can see, through a hazy sky, Villanueva de la Concepción, Málaga and the Mediterranean Sea. Then we head on the road to visit Málaga.