Fuengirola - History

History of Fuengirola

The history of Fuengirola dates back to Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman and Arabic times. Historical reference was made of the town during the 2nd century B.C.

Roman remains have been found which include sculptures, one of which is the well known so-called 'Venus of Fuengirola', which is now an exhibit in the History Museum - Museo de Historia. In the vicinity of the castle, remains of the Roman town of Seul have been found, as well as a meat salting factory from the same time.

The Castillo de Sohail (the landmark Fuengirola Castle), which was originally was built in the 11th century by the Muslims, was destroyed by the Christians in 1487, as they once again took possession of the area. Later the Christians became open to attack from marauding pirates and saw fit to restore castle for protection.

During the Arabic occupation the previously named area of Suel was re-named Suhayl. It was then a settlement, mainly around the then Suhayl Castle. It took in some agricultural farmland and clusters of small houses around the area of the river. Evoking an interesting picture is that fact that during the time of the Moors, camels would graze in the pastures surrounding the castle.

Many archaeological artefacts and remains have been discovered and unearthed over the years of expansion and construction in Fuengirola. The Finca del Secretario (The Secretary's Estate) is a most interesting and historically valuable site dating back to Roman times. The Roman pillars that can be seen today on the Los Boliches promenade were discovered in 1984. There are also thermal springs and ancient tombstones found at the entrance to Torreblanca.

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For a period of approximately two years at the beginning of the 19th century during the Wars of Independence,  Sohail Castle fell into the hands of the French. Later Fuengirola came under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Mijas and gradually the population grew and people settled on the opposite side of the river from the previous settlements by the Castle.

Then in 1822 the people of Fuengirola applied to the authorities in Malaga to given independence from Mijas. They made their application on the basis of Fuengirola having a population of 1,000 inhabitants (the minimum legal requirement for setting up a separate municipality) and with an economy based on fishing and the port. The census of 1,000 was disputed by the Mijas Town Hall, who declared there were less than 500. However, later, in 1841 the authorities accepted the division and Fuengirola gained its independence - a mayor was elected and a Town Hall was built. The way the boundaries were laid out at this time has always been a bone of contention with the people of Fuengirola, who feel that they were short changed in terms of land allocation. Fuengirola is indeed a very narrow strip of coastline. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and during further growth and expansion of Fuengirola, this problem has come up time and time again when new projects are muted. Driving around Fuengirola on the A-7 you are clearly reminded tha tyou have crossed the line by a sign on one of the overbidges "Esta usted en Las Lagunas Mijas" (You are in Las Lagunas district of Mijas) .  

With this 'emancipation' of Fuengirola, came the naming of many of the main streets, such as Calle España, Camino de Coin, etc. Also named at that time was the popular fishing quarter of El Boliche (now called Los Boliches).