Surface Area: 10.2 square kilometres
What the natives are called: Fuengiroleños
Monuments: Castillo Sohail castle, the archaeological sites of Suel and Finca de Acevedo and Finca del Secretario, Museo de Historia de la Ciudad.
Geographical Location: in the Western Costa del Sol region, on the municipal boundaries of Mijasand Benalmádena. The city is 27 kilometres from the provincial capital and 8 from Mijas. The average annual rainfall is 570 millimetres and the average annual temperature is 18º C.
Tourist Information: Tourism Office, Paseo Jesús Santos Rein, 6 (29640). Telephone: (+34) 952 46 74 57 Fax: 952 46 51 00
It seems almost a paradox, when one considers its population and the role it plays in tourism and the fact that it has eight kilometres of beaches, that the municipal area of Fuengirola is only 10 square kilometres. Possibly the paradox is explained by the fact that when it came to distributing territory no one could have foreseen that the tourism explosion of the twentieth century would shatter, not just the barriers imposed by the Administration, but even more the nineteenth century idea of the natural development of municipalities.
With its own boundaries overrun by formidable tourism growth, the city has found it necessary to direct its development toward the territory ofMijas, with the curious result that half of a particular street belongs to Fuengirola and the other half to Mijas, the municipality with which it shares most of its boundary.
Historical records show that it was Phoenician colonisers who founded Fuengirola, although it seems probable that Bastulos and other tribes had been present in this enclave halfway between Cádiz and Málaga. The Phoenicians set up a salted fish trading post at what they called Suel, and from there they traded with the other Mediterranean cities. The Romans made Suel a federated municipality that was assigned by Augustus to the “conventus” of Gades (Cádiz). It is believed that in those times there was a very powerful oligarchy at this place and that its inhabitants worshipped Neptune.
There are hardly any records of the Visigoth era but under Muslim rule during the caliphate of Abderramán III there was an enlargement of the castle that stands out so prominently on a hill in the western part of the city contiguous to the river that bears the city’s name, Fuengirola. It was in this castle that Enrique II of Castile and the Nazarite Yusuf I signed a truce in 1340 that allowed a resurgence of commerce. The fortress has now been restored and suitably adapted as an open-air auditorium. The Arabs changed the name from Suel to Sohail, the name of a star of the constellation Argos that, curiously and according to legend, could only be seen from the castle itself.
After the conquest of the region by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487 the castle was destroyed but the frequent pirate raids that afflicted the Mediterranean coast necessitated its reconstruction. Years afterward, during the War of Independence, French, English and Spaniards fought over the fortress due to its status as a strategic defensive location.
The modern name of the town derives from the “girolas”, craft that Genovese sailors based in this area used in fishing for small fish or “boliche”, a word that also was also used in the name of the former detached township of Santa Fe de los Boliches, now a part of the town.
How to Get There
The Mediterranean Expressway (A-7; N-340) perfectly links the town of Fuengirola with the rest of the Costa del Sol. It is also possible to get here by train (Route C-2 of the “Cercanías” or commuter line) from Málaga,Torremolinos and Arroyo de la Miel (Benalmádena) or from the airport.