Torremolinos - Famous faces in the 19th and 20th Century


by Tony Bryant


The aunt of Malaga's favourite son once lived in Torremolinos, and yet nothing remains of her small house, which sat on the corner of Called San Miguel and Casa Blanca.

Heliodor Picasso Lopez, born in Torremolinos in 1863, was the sister of Pablo Picasso's mother, and the young artist is said to have visited his aunt regularly during his childhood, although this was long before he became the most celebrated painter, sculpture and ceramicist of the twentieth century.

The Plaza de San Miguel in Torremolinos was once the artistic centre of the town and during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this quaint square was home to a few notable artistes


Horacio Lengo Martinez, an eccentric and rather unstable painter who eventually committed suicide, was born in the Plaza de San Miguel in Torremolinos in 1838.

He was the father of Clara Lengo - an artist who gained considerably fame in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - and uncle of famed cartoonists, Tomás and Francisco Sancha Lengo.

Horacio became part of the bourgeoisie artistic scene in Malaga, presenting his works at several national exhibitions in Spain, before heading to Paris, where he participated in the exhibitions of 1875 and 1876. He was a prolific painter who gained considerable recognition during the second half of the nineteenth century, earning the pseudonym of 'Painter of the Doves', due to his fondness of painting them.


John Spencer-Churchill,  Nephew of Sir Winston Churchill was an English painter who once lived in the Molino de Rosario, situated next to the church in Plaza San Miguel.

Born in London in 1909, the budding artiste headed to Spain during his early adulthood, where, in 1934, he married a Spanish artist called Angela Culme Seymour.

He lived briefly at Chartwell Manor with Sir Winston Churchill, before returning to Spain to set up his studio in the centre of Torremolinos, but his marriage failed after just two years and he returned to London. He died in 1992. Some of his most famous paintings include, St Pauls on a Foggy Day, Battersea Bridge at Dawn, and Grand Bridge at Blenheim, and his works often fetch upwards of 2,000 euros at auction.


Probably the most famous Englishman to live in Torremolinos was Sir George Langworthy, the pioneer of the Costa del Sol tourist industry who purchased a property in Torremolinos in 1898 and turned it into a refuge for the poor.

He became known as El Inglés de la Peseta because of the solidarity he showed to the local people of Torremolinos. It is claimed that the Englishman, who, much later, became 'hijo pedelicto' (adopted son) of Torremolinos, would give one peseta to anyone who read a passage from the bible. The people flocked to his home in order to receive their silver peseta, enough to feed a family for a day in that time, although his good deeds did not sit too well with the Catholic hierarchy, for they believed it was simply a plot to poison the minds of the peasants in order to turn them against Catholicism.

Some of the local community also felt threatened by Langworthy's protestant message, joining the clergy in their condemnation of the readings. Fearing the poor of Torremolinos would succumb to his bribery, one neighbour sold her property to a religious institution for a token sum, on the condition that the land was used for a Catholic teaching centre.

After the death of his wife in 1930, his home was converted into the first hotel on the Costa del Sol, El Castillo del Inglés, later to become Hotel Costa del Sol.

Langworthy died in 1940, penniless and improvised, and the whole town was said to have turned out to his funeral, with the exception of the ecclesiastical sector.

Spanish poet, Luis Cernuda, was one of the first residents of the hotel. A member of the Generation of 27, Cernuda's stay in the summer of 1928 inspired El Indolente (The Indolent), which described the atmosphere of Torremolinos at that time.


Surrealist genius Salvador Dali and his eternal muse, Gala, were among other notable guests to stay at the hotel. Dali stayed for several weeks during the early 1930s while working on his El Hombre Invisible. Gala raised the eyebrows of the local Roman Catholics by bathing topless on the beaches of Bajondillo. A photo taken at the time is thought to be the first record of this pastime on the Costa del Sol.


Carlota Alessandri was another pioneer of the tourism industry on the Costa del Sol at this time. Little is known of her background, other than her Italian origin, but she is remembered as one of the most charitable women in Torremolinos during the twentieth century.

Mother-in-law of the film maker and director, Edgar Neville - who once lived in the Plaza La Nogalera in Torremolinos -  Carlota Alessandri acquired the Cucazorra farmhouse in Montemar in 1934 and turned it into a small hostel with seven rooms. She named the hotel El Parador de Montemar.

Alessandri, a staunch catholic, promoted the foundation of the Carmelitas de Montemar and she travelled to Rome to receive a blessing for the institution from Pope Pius XII. She donated land for the construction of a church, an old people's home, a kindergarten and a school, among other things, and she dedicated much of her time to helping the underprivileged. Carlota Alessandri, who died in May 1972, has a street named after her in Torremolinos.

Continued....... Famous Faces of Torremolinos in the 1950's


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