El Torcal (Paraje Natural Torcal de Antequera) is a 1171 hectare nature reserve in the province of Málaga in Andalusia, Spain , about 14 km from the provincial town of Antequera. With its extraordinary karst formations, the park is one of the most impressive landscapes in Spain and Europe.
Like all limestone massifs, the Torcal de Antequera, presents an enormous wealth of chasms, caves and other underground forms of which more than a hundred have been explored to date. There are many vertical chasms that reach a maximum depth of 225 meters (Sima de la Unión). Also popular are the Sima Azul (-115 meters), Sima de la Mujer (-90), the Navazo Verde, Chasm Rasca, del Carnero. Others of a horizontal nature are of great historical importance, such as the Cueva de El Toro and the Cueva de Marinaleda, which are home to important prehistoric sites.
The sierra has the declaration of a Special Area for the Protection of Birds, issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Territorial Planning of the Junta de Andalucía.
In 1929 the area was recognized as the first Andalusian Protected Natural Area of National Interest, in 1978 it was declared a Natural Reserve Park, in 1989 Natural Area. In 2014 it was declared a Special Conservation Area.
In 2016 it was declared a World Heritage Site as part of the serial cultural asset called the Antequera Dolmen Site, since the El Romeral tholos is oriented towards its top.
For guests of Spain and lovers of wild natural landscapes, it will be interesting to visit a very unusual natural park in Andalusia.Torcal Natural Park is a series of quaint cliffs with many caves. The park is very popular among lovers of mountain tourism – trails and hiking trails with markings and signs have been laid especially for them.
Access : Coordinates: 36.963611, -4.545556 / By public transport : you can take a bus from Antequera to the village of Villanueva de la Concepcion, then just 1 km to the park entrance / By car : From Antequera – 13 km, along the A 7282 highway, you need to drive 2 km, then follow the sign to Torcal Park.- From Malaga – 35 km along the A-45 highway.
/ At the parking lot there is an information center with a small museum showing the geology, flora and fauna of the park.
- Underground formations :Like all limestone massifs, El Torcal has a great wealth of pits, caves and other underground formations, some of them of great historical importance, like the Cueva del Toro. Its origin is to be related to the processes of dissolution and expansion of subterranean limestones, by the action of rainwater.
- Caves: Sima de la Unión (225 meters deep) , Sima Azul (115 meters) , Sima de la Mujer (90 meters) ,Sima de Navazo Verde , Sima Rasca , Sima del Carnero , Cueva del Toro (horizontal) , Cueva de Marinaleda (horizontal).
- In 2013, the Torcal de Antequera was chosen as the second finalist in El Mejor Rincón 2013 by Guía Repsol. In addition, El Torcal is proposed as a “Place of Spanish geological interest of international relevance”.
- Trails : Marked circular hiking trails lead through the park. Since it is easy to get lost in the bizarre rock labyrinth, it is advisable to follow the hiking trails. : The 4.5 km red route can be completed in 3 hours. This route leads to an observation deck at an altitude of 1.339 m, from where you can take panoramic views of almost the entire park / The yellow trail – 2.5 km, runs along the green part of the park. The route leads to the area of Las Ventanias/ The green route is the shortest and easiest, 1.5 km long, takes about 45 minutes and leads to the valley basin.
The park is free to visit. However, access is only open during the daytime. The tourist office at the entrance to the park is open from 10 am to 5 pm. There, at the entrance, there is a small museum dedicated to the flora and fauna of the Torcal National Park.
Activities : sightseeing / photo opportunities / Trekking.There are three official walking routes in the park, along with information boards and tourist markings – You can walk on your own, as we did, or you can order a guided tour.
Go next : The town of Villanueva de la Concepción / Not far from Torcal Park is the ancient town of Antequera / Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra / The village of Villanueva de Algaidas.