Montemayor, hill and castle, Benahavis

View from the top of Montemayor


Montemayor, Benahavís

Montemayor, the castle ruins on the hill overlooking the village of Benahavis

The castle ruins of Montemayor stand at 580m on the top of a commanding pyramid shaped isolated hill once dominating 100km of coastline, at a time when the raids by African Barbary Pirates were still common. Local stories still tell of underground passages leading down to the coast which were once used by Moorish troops of the Sultan Havis.    The castle was constructed by the Moors, there is little evidence of any previous structure.  The first references in written sources are those given by Ibn Hayyan in al-Muqtabis V (10th century), he describes it as a place where Umar Ibn Hafsun had supplies and full warehouses.



The original entrance to the castle stood on the opposite side of the mountain so there is no obvious entrance to the fortress as it is approached. It is necessary to scramble over the first line of defences to reach the outer bailey which occupies a site of 3.000 square metres. Situated in the centre is the old keep, a further scramble onto the walls will get you to the highest point. The pinnacle is marked by a small stone obelisk.  

The reward for getting this far is the magnificent view. On a clear day it is possible to see the coast form Gibraltar to Fuengirola plus the African coast and ships passing the strait. All roads to Benahavís can be seen, as the motorway and the San Pedro to Ronda road.   There is a curious sense of timeliness and melancholy peace. You are most likely to be the only visitors. This castle was the most significant Moorish stronghold on the western Malaga coastline.  

The castle of Montemajor was once a symbol of strength, wealth and power. Those who lived in it and those who finally took and destroyed it were the greatest men in their time and place. During the reconquest the castle would have been a formidable obstruction to the Christian troops and once conquering it, they destroyed it so it could be used again. It was never a stronghold again after its fall in the 1480s. it was used as a refuge by the Moriscos fleeing the Sierra Bermeja in 1568 and in the early 19th century in the resistance to Napoleon’s troops in the Guerra de la Independencia ( Peninsular War).

The original structure of the keep is difficult to define since many of the upper levels have caved in and collapsed into the keep itself. Hidden chambers must still exist as can be seen form the northern towers. One of which bears a pinkish rendering.  There were several aljibes or water storage tanks located here.

Benahavis is an attracts and convenient location for property owners due to its beauty and close proximity to Marbella, Puerto Banus and Málaga.The village has a deep history dating back to the… More →

Benahavis attracts a vast number of tourists during the summer season due to its beauty and close proximity to Marbella, Puerto Banus and Málaga.The town has a deep history dating back to the… More →

Benahavis attracts a vast number of tourists during the summer season due to its beauty and close proximity to Marbella, Puerto Banus and Málaga.The town has a deep history dating back to the… More →

Known for its excellent gastronomy and wide range of high-quality restaurants, as well as its grand selection of quality golf courses, unsurprisingly Benahavis attracts a vast number of tourists… More →

Montemayor is the name of a castle ruins and the hill it sits on overlooking the village of Benahavís and the Mediterranean coast

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In Benahavis there are plenty of fun, challenging and prestigious golf courses that both novices and professionals can enjoy: La Zagaleta Club de Campo, Los Barrancos, Los Arqueros, Los Flamingos… More →

Benahavis is renowned for its gastronomy. Known as ´La Sartén de Andalucía´ (the frying pan of Andalucía), Benahavis is home to a wide variety of restaurants serving the very best of traditional,… More →

Monte Mayor (two words) is also the name of an exclusive gated community located a few km south of Montemayor hill. Monte Major is reached not from Benahavis village but from the A-7175 (Benahavis road) travelling up to Benahavis village turn left at the small roundabout just after passing under the A-7 coastal motorway

Access to Montemayor summit and castle

The ruins of the castle despite their proximity to the village are not easy to reach. A sturdy old  car will take you a good part of the way, a good off road vehicle will take you closer. The ruins themselves are ultimately only accessible on foot.  The roads up from the village is called Calle Aixa and leads up to a housing complex called Benahavis Hills. If you park the car here the walk will take about an hour. At the little roundabout with mock castle keep in the centre, follow the road upwards  on the right hand side which runs round the back of the Benahavis urbaniszacion. After 200m take a right fork onto a track called Camino a Montemayor. The pyramid shape of Montemayor hill makes it a clear destination. When the track runs out,  as you near the castle, follow the steep path along the ridge. This last section is steep and not for the unfit, not for those alone, and not for those with slippery shoes nor sandals. The view for those that make it to the top are rewarding.