Torremolinos Info - History

Contents page
Facebook page


Preamble

There appears to be little on the web about the history of Torremolinos and much of it seems confused. Hopefully the following is reasonable, though thin on detail. However, my Spanish is limited and I have had to make use of Google translate and dictionaries so a few bits may be less than 100% accurate. However it is intended as interesting background information only.

Prehistory

Some shaped stones found on the beaches and hills could indicate that the area was settled some 150,000 years ago.
The best evidence of early settlement are the human skulls, bones, clay pots, arrow heads, necklaces and bracelets and some animal bones found in the excavations of the limestone caves in the mountains behind the town, in particular Cueva del Tesoro (Treasure Cave), Cueva Tapada (Cover Cave), Cueva de los Tejones (Badger Cave) and Cueva del Encanto (Charm Cave). The study of these pieces puts them in the Neolithic Period, about 5,000 BC.

Roman

According to the Egyptian Greek geographer Ptolemy, the Phoenicians had founded a colony near here named Saduce.
It is likely that it was the Romans who founded the town in its current position. The Romans also constructed a road from Cádiz to Málaga passing through the town and built villas alongside it. Málaga and Torremolinos became important for fish salting and there were three fish salting factories in the town. It also produced "Garum", a fermented fish condiment, essential in Roman cuisine of the time.

Moors

The Moorish conquest of Spain began in the 8th century and it was the Arabs who built the water mills in the area. The limestone hills gave rise to pure water springs that, in the past, led to large channels by the time they reached the sea making them ideal for water mills.
The Arabic Nasrid rulers of Málaga, built the defensive tower at the end of Calle San Miguel in about 1300 AD. The two storey tower is about twelve meters high and constructed of old adobe bricks and has several small windows facing out to sea. It became known as the Torre de los Molinos, "Tower of the Mills", hence Torremolinos today.

Christians

In 1498, during the siege of Málaga, the Catholic kings and their troops camped in and around Torremolinos. Rodrigo Pimentel, Count of Benavente, provided around 2,000 horses and 5,000 labourers to the kings and in 1502 the town came under the rule of Málaga and was renamed "Torres de Pimentel".

18th Century

In 1704, during the War of Spanish Succession, an Anglo-Dutch fleet under the control of the British Admiral George Rooke, asked to be supplied with provisions and fresh water. When they were refused, Rooke sent 2,000 soldiers to loot, burn and destroy Torremolinos and its mills.
North African pirate attacks were common throughout the 18th century and Antonio Jiménez Mesa, the Royal Army engineer, proposed that a castle or artillery battery be built. This work began in 1763 on the site now occupied by the Hotel Santa Clara. It was equipped with six 24-pound cannon with a range of about six kilometres.
Torremolinos first appeared on the map of the Ensenada's Marques in 1748 as Torre de los Molinos.
A 1769 document shows that the population had fallen to just 106.

19th Century

The town was rebuilt during the first half of the 19th century. By 1849 there were fourteen mills and the population had risen to 785.
The Inca Mill and the Cea Batan Mill were in the area of the Los Manantiales (The Springs), near what is now the Palacio de Congresos. The Molino del Moro and the Pinwheel were in what is now Avenida Sorolla. The Manojas Mill was in the Plaza Costa del Sol. The Castle Mill was in Calle San Miguel and the Malleo Mill was in the Plaza de la Iglesia. Near the Tower were the the Rosary, La Torre and the Mill of The Vault.
In Bajondillo were the Mill of La Glorieta, the New, the Mill of La Esperanza, the Duck, the Snail, the Moulin de La Cruz and Hazard (named for its closeness to the beach and the continuous risk of flooding).
Most milled wheat but some ground salt and minerals.

20th Century

Around 1900, Sir George Langworthy bought the castle and transformed it into an estate with beautiful gardens looking out over the sea. He was known as "The Peseta English Man" because he was always helping the needy and had a habit of handing out silver pesetas, one of which would feed a family for a day.
In 1923 the water of Torremolinos was diverted to the fast growing Málaga and the mill industry faded away by the end of the 1920s leaving Torremolinos as just a fishing village.
In December 1923, the people asked the Town Hall to make Torremolinos part of Málaga, because money was owed to the treasury and there was nothing in the coffers and in 1924 it did just that.
In the late 1920's British visitors started coming to Torremolinos and in 1930 the "Peseta English Man" converted his finca into a Residence for Foreigners. This initiative was followed by others. Carlota Alessandri restored her Cucazorra farmstead in 1933 to open Parador Montemar and this was followed by La Roca Hotel in 1942. Thus tourism on the Costa del Sol started.
In 1948 the Restaurant-Discotheque El Remo opened on the Carihuela, to be the start of many for tourists.
In 1959 the Pez Espada hotel was opened, the first luxury hotel along the coast. It was visited by many celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando and Ava Gardner.
The first gay bar in Spain, Toni's Bar, opened in 1962 when it was not wise to be gay with Franco as dictator.
In the next few years many new hotels, bars, discos and nightclubs changed the face of the town and its beaches. However, the Spanish regime under Franco reacted to the free lifestyle with arrests of homosexuals and other repressions through the 1970s.
A weekly flight service between London and Malaga was launched in 1975, the year that Franco died, by Horizon Holidays. The bad reputation reached its peak in the late 1980's when the British tourists would cause chaos through the summer, getting drunk and generally being a nuisance to everyone.
On the 27th of September 1988, Torremolinos once again became independent of Málaga.

Civil War

The Civil War from 1936 to 1939 and after until Franco's death must have had an impact on Torremolinos but there seems to be very little information on the Internet.
When Franco's troups were about to enter Málaga, something like 150,000 people left the city in February 1937 and headed for Almeria. But Franco sent planes and ships (the people were on the Coast Road) to bomb them and around 5,000 were killed and many more injured. Although the people were walking East from Málaga and away from Torremolinos it is hard to see how this could not have had an effect here.
There was also a concentration camp in Torremolinos. It was set up in 1938/39 near where the Aquapark is now. The concentration camp was an open-air one, without barracks or latrines. Around 4,500 prisoners were held in 1939 and they were not just Republicans but also homosexuals, foreigners, gypsies and dissident politicians. Some documents suggest that the prisoners built part of Málaga Airport.

21st Century

Torremolinos has outgrown its rowdy image and the young drunks have for the most part been replaced with older tourists (though some of them are still often rowdy and drunk), families and gay travelers.
Many tourists decided to make Torremolinos their home and there is now a large ex-pat community.
Unfortunately today there are many empty shops and bars and parts have the look of a decaying town. However, efforts are being made to revitalise the town as a preferred tourist destination.
The neighbourhoods of La Carihuela, Bajondillo, Playamar or Los Alamos have been well maintained and remain attractive. Other typically Spanish neighbourhoods such as El Pinillo, Montemar Alto or El Calvario remain much the same as they were never part of the mass development of the 70s and early 80s.

More info

Other information can be found at:
Memories of Torremolinos.
Andalucia.com.
There are also many photographs on the facebook page, torremolinosenimagenes


Contents page
Facebook page


Last updated 31st May 2019