Surface Area: 20 square kilometres
What the natives are called: Torremolinenses
Monuments: Calle San Miguel, Torre de Pimentel (Pimental Tower), Casa de los Navajas (Los Navajas house), Molino de Inca (Inca Mill), Ciudad deTorremolinos sports complex, La Carihuela, Palacio de Congresos (Congress Palace), Príncipe de Asturias auditorium
Geographical Location: in the Western Costa del Sol region. Its principal urban centre is 50 metres above sea level and is 12 kilometres from the city of Málaga and 5 from Pablo Ruiz Picasso International Airport. The average precipitation in the municipality is 500 litres per square metre and the annual average temperature is 18º C.
Tourist Information: Tourism Office, Plaza de las Comunidades Autónomas (29620). Telephone:(+34) 952 37 19 09 Fax: (+34) 952 37 95 51
Among the foothills of the Mijas mountain range, in an area of gentle terrain that decreases in altitude as it approaches the seacoast, lies the territory of Torremolinos, formerly a district of Málaga and a separate municipality since 1988. The great green spaces at the foot of the mountains join the complex and heterogeneous urban district on the opposite side of the Mediterranean Expressway that bestows a distinctive profile upon the locality. (There are four well-differentiated population centres: El Calvario, El Bajondillo, La Carihuela and the network of streets that make up the most traditional district of the city).
The first human settlements in this municipality date back no less than 150,000 years. That is the period from which date the nine human skulls found in the caves of El Tesoro, Los Tejones, El Encanto and Tapada. These caves no longer exist but used to be at Punta de Torremolinos, the present Castillo de Santa Clara, where clay vessels, axe heads, necklaces, bracelets and rings were also found. Neolithic remains (5,000 B. C.) have also been found of what according to the historian Juan Temboury was a Mesopotamian people who settled in this place, where they would have found an excellent climate, natural shelters and abundant water, game and fish.
During the Roman domination, Torremolinos was perfectly linked with Málaga and Cádiz by the road that was built to connect those two cities. Due to these good communications, three dried fish trading posts were set up in the municipality, mainly to produce the famous garum sauce, a fish product that was indispensable to Roman cuisine. All that remains of them, however, is a few signs of one of them on the grounds of the old Campamento Benítez. A small necropolis that came to light during some work on the Plaza Cantabria is also from the Roman era.
The Arabs, with their undying reverence for water, did not hesitate to avail themselves of the stream that had its headwaters in the area of Los Manantiales and ran to the beach. They built numerous mills all along this stream. In about 1300, at the height of the Nazarite epoch, construction was begun on a defensive tower at the end of present-day Calle San Miguel to prevent, so far as was possible, invasions from the sea. The name of the city (“Tower-Mills”) alludes to the tower and the mills.
Shortly after the fall of Málaga, the Catholic Monarchs granted that capital ownership of the springs in Torremolinos. This decision was reaffirmed years later, in 1511, by Juana la Loca. Thus, quite a few years later, the mills that had been built by the Arabs gradually became inoperative for lack of a water current.
It is an interesting footnote that the first resident of Torremolinos whose name appears in any official document was Alonso Martín, who was contracted as a tower guard with the mission of giving warning of invasions from the sea. One such invasion occurred in 1503, as is shown by a document in the Archives of the Málaga Cathedral. The resident in question was paid 25 maravedís per day, but since his job consisted of watching over the coast he was not permitted to have a fishing pole or play games. For failure to comply with that rule he could be punished by two months without pay or even expelled from the service.
Pirate vessels did not relent in their harassment of the Málaga coastline, and in order to defend the Torremolinos coast Antonio Jiménez Mesa, the Royal Army engineer, proposed that a castle or artillery battery be built. This work began in 1770 on the site now occupied by the Hotel Santa Clara. The fortress housed infantry and cavalry garrisons, dwellings, a chapel and warehouses, and was equipped with a battery of six 24-pound cannon with a range of about six kilometres. The facility was a military base until 1830 when it was adapted as a constabulary barracks, and years later it passed into private hands. There are still some ruins of this fort in the area known as La Batería.
In 1923 two projects were begun to divert Torremolinos‘ water to Málaga due to the capital’s growing population and its scant water resources during that era. This initiative ultimately caused the municipality of Torremolinos to become a neighbourhood of Málaga.
Sir George Langworthy, an unusual British citizen who took up residence in Torremolinos in the late nineteenth century, bought the Santa Clara castle and in 1930 converted it into a residential hotel, thus founding the first tourist establishment not only in Torremolinos but practically on the entire Costa del Sol. Shortly afterwards, Carlota Alessandri converted her Cucazorra rural estate into the Parador de Montemar; in the next decade the Hotel La Roca opened its doors and in the late 1940′s the El Remo restaurant and cabaret in La Carihuela began operations. The rest is recent history.
Beginning in the 1950′s with the opening of the Los Nidos and Pez Espada hotels (the latter being the first luxury establishment in the area), the name of Torremolinos became inescapably associated with tourism. 50 years later that tranquil village, which sprang up around a watchtower and some mills exploiting the abundant spring water is known throughout the world and finds itself at the forefront of the international tourism industry.
How to Get There
Whether you are coming direct from the airport or from any other point on the Costa del Sol, the signs for Torremolinos will not let you go wrong. The Mediterranean Expressway and the old N-340, which has now become a boulevard passing through the middle of the city, are this tourist centre’s access routes.