AREA: 10,20 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 5 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 500 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 18 ºC POPULATION CENSUS 1994: 42,605
History and Landscape
The municipal district of Fuengirola occupies a narrow stretch of the coastal terrain between the Jardin brook to the northeast and the mouth of the Fuengirola river to the southwest. In the northern extreme the landscape is hilly and there, where there are no urbanizations, it is covered with scrubland, while the rest of the relief has smooth undulations and is practically plain. In these areas, apart from some really residual plots, the surroundings are urban right up to the border of the Fuengirola river. To the extreme south, the hill on which the castle stands and the mouth of the river momentarily interrupt this panorama before it returns in the neighbouring municipality of Mijas.
The coastal position of Fuengirola, the same as with other coastal towns, must have attracted the first settlers since old. Nevertheless, the first datum we have, refer to the Phoenicians, who arrived here in order to make commerce with the towns of the area. They were the founders of Suel, the name which this locality would have until the Arab era.
With the arrival of the Romans it acquired great relevance, reaching the category of a federated city of Rome, which allowed it to maintain a law-code and their own institutions, the same as what happened with the city of Málaga.
The Arabs changed its name and called it Sohail, the name of a star in the Argus constellation, which according to tradition, could only be seen from the castle which still conserves the most part of its walls today. This castle was built by Abderramán III in the mid 10th century and was practically destroyed in the Christian conquest of 1487. After this conquest the coastal defence was fortified and some centuries later, in the 18th century, the castle was rebuilt with the purpose of avoiding the intense contraband registered in the area. This castle continued to serve its defensive mission until the War of Independance, in which it was used by the French.
From the 18th century, the town gained importance as a supply centre for the boats going to the Gibraltar straits and changes its name to Fuengirola, derived from the term "girona", appointed to the Genoese vessels dedicated to grocery, of whose presence was frequent in this Málaga port. The term "boliche" (grocer) has remained in the annexe of Santa Fe of Los Boliches, now practically united to Fuengirola.
Places to visit
One could say, apart from exceptions, that the physiognomy of what was once a fishing village, changed from the decade of the 60s with the massive development of tourism on the Costa del Sol, where Fuengirola occupies a privileged place. So the new and modern constructions have formed a new urban landscape which has nothing to do with its historic past.
The most representative monuments are its parish church and the Sohail castle. The religious building, situated in the Constitution square and under the protection of the Virgin of the Rosary, presents a baroque front formed by two pilasters and a split pediment with a niche in the upper part.
Regarding the castle, apart from its rich historical past, as an architectural construction which has been entirely restored, it has a square base, solid turrets on the flanks, and a larger tower standing out in the centre to the Puerta del Homenaje.
It has been possible to know Fuengirolas past by the archaeological sites of Torreblanca del Sol (Roman baths and visigode necropolis).
The fast touristic development has originated the concentration of interesting places all along the promenade, one of the longest in Spain and on which there is the marina, nautical club, the fishing port, and the Oceanographical Investigation Centre.
The promenade, especially the most western part, is the area to visit during the day, but especially at night for the amount of premises which exist: restaurants, bars, cafeterias, pubs, clothes shops, handicrafts, etc. As well as the Zoo, the only one on the Costa del Sol, the streets of the centre have been converted into open air museums with painted murals on facades by painters such as Barbadillo, Brickman, Escalona, Sanz, Le Parc, Peinado, Sempere, Asins and others.
Fuengirola, on the contrary to what one may think, is one of the most outstanding handicraft centres in the province, and has a great number of shops for its commercialization, although they also sell products which have nothing to do with the authoctonous handicraft products.
In this sense, Fuengirola has a good number of workshops of master craftsmen who work with pottery, precious metals, and jewellry, leather, wooden furniture and tapestries, iron forging, and saddlery. The costume jewellry however has a more manufacturing character with workshops in the industrial estate.
The gastronomic offers of Fuengirola correspond to the cosmopolitanism of the city, but the popular cooking is based on fish caught on its coast, especially fry up, sardine kebabs, not forgetting rice with shellfish, fish baked in salt, oven baked fish, shellfish etc.
Festivities and traditions
The main festivities of the town, in honour of the patron saint of the Virgin of the Rosary, are in October and take place in the permanent fair ground. The other great protagonist of the festive calender takes place in July with the purpose of the Virgen del Carmen day. The area of Los Boliches, the fishing town which still conserves part of its former physiognomy, is the one who organizes the marine procession on the 16th of July.