Location of Fuengirola
|Comarca||Costa del Sol Occidental |
|• Mayor||MªEsperanza Oña Sevilla|
|• Total||10.2 km2 (3.9 sq mi)|
|Elevation||6 m (20 ft)|
|• Density||7,000/km2 (18,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Fuengirola, in ancient times known as Suel and then Suhayl, is a large town and municipality on the Costa del Sol in the province of Málaga in the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. It is located on the central coast of the province and integrated into the region of the Costa del Sol and the Commonwealth of Municipalities of the Costa del Sol Occidental.
The area has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, with annual average temperatures of 18 °C and average summer temperatures of over 30 °C
The foothills of the mountain range behind the town to the south are the site of Sohail Castle, which contains remains of an early Phoenician settlement, later occupied by the Romans, which became a town known in antiquity as Suel. Suel was identified by the Roman historian Pomponius Mela as one of the towns of the coast, and was cited by Pliny in the 1st century AD as a fortified town or oppidum. A later historian, Ptolemy, identified it during the 2nd century as being located in the region of the bastulo-penos or Phoenicians.
The inscription on the pedestal of a statue found near the castle mentions Suel as being a Roman "municipium". A funeral urn found in the same area has an inscription containing the word "Suelitana". Roman baths were discovered in 1961 and, close by, the remains of a Roman villa containing two sculptures, one of which is known as the "Venus of Fuengirola", exhibited in the town's museum. A series of architectural components, probably transported from the Mijas quarry during the Roman era, were discovered in Los Boliches in 1984; these have now been mounted to form a temple entrance, and are on the promenade at Los Boliches.
The castle was built by Abd-ar-Rahman III in the mid-10th century. The city of Suel ceased to be mentioned at the beginning of the Middle Ages. After several centuries, the name of the settlement changed from Suel to Suhayl, which became the name of the castle and surroundings during the Moorish era. Suhayl became a fairly large settlement, which included farmland and small villages. Most of the surrounding area seems to have been used as pasture for the Moorish rulers' camels. Writer and scholar Al-Suhayli ("the man from Suhayl") lived there from 1114 to 1185, and later became known as one of the seven saints of Marrakesh, where he was buried.
In the early Middle Ages the town was set on fire and its inhabitants fled to Mijas. Suhayl became a mound of ruins, and even its name was changed to the Romanised Font-Jirola, after the spring arising at the foot of the castle, according to historian Alonso de Palencia.
In 1485, when only the fortress remained, the settlement, along with the rest of the Kingdom of Granada, fell into the hands of the Christian Monarchs in the final phase of the Reconquista (reconquest). An attempt to repopulate the site with 30 people failed, and in 1511 it was registered as uninhabited, apart from the fortress and a watchtower. Land originally set aside for Fuengirola was reallocated to Mijas.
In the 17th century, once the threat from Turkish and Moroccan pirates had disappeared, a new urban settlement developed; at the beginning of the 18th century, an inn was opened near the beach, offering accommodation to travellers, muleteers and seafarers. A few huts were built nearby, forming a small village.
The Battle of Fuengirola took place in the area during the Peninsular War, on October 15, 1810, when approximately 200 Polish soldiers of the Duchy of Warsaw defeated a mixed British-Spanish force numbering some 3,000 soldiers under Lord Blayney.
In May 1841, Fuengirola was administratively detached from Mijas; at the time its inhabitants were mainly engaged in fishing, agriculture and trading with ships that dropped anchor in the bay. For over a century, fishing and agriculture remained the main activities.
In the 1960s Fuengirola started to become a leading tourist centre, eventually having the expected facilities for eating, sleeping, and entertainment. The town has broad beaches along a promenade extending east and west from the town, that includes smaller adjacent villages.
Of the approximately 72,000 permanent inhabitants registered in the municipality, 25% come from other countries, mainly European (England, Ireland, Scotland, Finland and Sweden, among others), and also from Morocco and Argentina. In the summer especially, the town plays host to throngs of visitors both Spanish and foreign, but in particular British. The English-speaking community in particular is large enough to support a fully developed programme of activities and local groups.
There is a zoo, known as Bioparc Fuengirola since 2010, which was modernized in 2001 to feature "tropical-forest" dwellings. The zoo specializes in captive breeding for endangered species, chimpanzee-group research and tropical-forest education. It has a series of natural habitats for different species.
Fuengirola has a number of historical sites and open parks. The old port is still used by the local Spanish fisherman. The Arab castle of Suhayl, or Suhail, remained an abandoned ruin until renovations began in 1995. In 2000 the interior of the castle was completely renovated and the Suhail castle begun to host festivals and concerts throughout the summer. Additional landscaping was completed in 2002.
The town is largely urban in character, with many high-rise blocks of flats near the seafront and elsewhere. There are some narrow streets with many low-rise villas. Considerable commercial and housing development is underway further inland.
- Sohail Castle (Arabic castle)
- Plaza de Toros (bullring)
- Bioparc Fuengirola (zoo)
- Fuengirola museum
- Roman ruins
Fuengirola, and some of the intervening villages along the coast, are served by the C-1 commuter rail service from central Málaga, run by Cercanías Málaga. The train and bus stations are in the center of town.
Most cultural activities in Fuengirola take place during the summer. In June, the festival of music and dance it’s celebrated in the Sohail castle. In this same place it is also organized the Medieval market, the Festival of the town of Fuengirola and the Beer Party. Other worth to mention events are: the Cinema Festival of Fuengirola, The International Faire and the International Faire of the Villages, the last two being celebrated between the last days of April and the first days of May, and the International Festival of Latin Rhythms in September. There is a second hand street market every Saturday in the premises of the faire. It is a very famous market in the Costa del Sol where almost any object can be found. On Sundays there is also another market in the Doña Sofía park.
- History museum: is the only museum of the town, inaugurated in 2003. It gathers a collection of remains which mostly are part of the Cerro de Suel field, the castle and the house of the secretary. It is located in the old house of the Official veterinary surgeon, in the Spain Square. The exhibition is organized in two sections: one focused on the old history, made up of Phoenician, roman and Arabic pieces. The other is based on ethnographic contents such as traditional fishing, craftsmanship…
- Open museum: project that was launched in 1988, is part of the big size walls displayed in the façade of diverse buildings of the town. Among others, these painters’ works were exhibited: Manuel Barbadillo, Joaquín Peinado, Enrique Brinkmann, Escalona y José María Córdoba.
- Peace Palace: a multipurpose space for the representation of theater and music shows, exhibitions and speeches.
- Varietes theater: an small theater that offer an exclusive program in English. It is the only one of Andalucia that is managed by foreign residents.
- The Culture House: it contains an exhibition room and a function room with a capacity to hold 165 people. Conferences, concerts, theaters, recitals… are represented on it.
- Fuengirola has 3 municipal libraries: the Central library called “Francisco Quevedo” in the Boliches and the library “Lope de Vega” in the neighbourhood of El Boqutillo; and a third Statal one, situated in the old Oceanographic center of Malaga, at the harbour, specialized on geological studies of the mediterranean coast, fishing biology, sea pollution and other marine issues.
- Los Boliches (in full: Santa Fé de los Boliches)
- El Boquetillo
- Los Pacos
- New Iberia, USA
- Official website (in Spanish, but with a Foreign Residents section partly in English)
- Battle of Fuengirola 1810
- Folk festivals and events at Fuengirola
- Fuengirola travel guide from Wikivoyage