Moors in Fuengirola
Our own castle. Well restored, nice place for a quick glimpse of medieval history. Stands 38 m above sea level. You can walk around the citadel on top of the walls. Nice views.
An aerial view of the Castillo Sohail in the 60's shows the state of decay two decades before the restorations were started. The desolate surroundings are almost unbelievable.
1977. It was possible to sneak inside through openings in the wall. The structures inside were completely caved in and overgrown with bushes and trees.
A family photo of 1981 shows how the towers and parts of the outer walls had collapsed.
This is what I know of it:
During the Caliphate of Al-Andalus buildings were erected on on the hill, on top of the ruins of antique structures ( the roman town of Suel ). The Caliphate collapsed in the 11th century. Berber Taifa kings ruled the coast until the fundamentalist Almoradives attacked from Morocco and conquered the area. In the 12 th century, either the Almoradives or the the second fundamentalist invaders, the Almohads, started building 8 walls and 8 towers around the buildings. At that time the castle got its present name: Suhayl or Sohail.
For perspective: Sohail castle was built about a hundred years before the glorious Nazari palaces in Alhambra, Granada and a couple of decades before the Notre Dame of Paris was started.
Very different stories of the origin of the castle are around. I've read that the castle already existed either in 711 when the invading moors conquered it, or in the 9th century when the rebel Umar ibn Hafsun stayed there. Other sources tell that it was built during the Caliphate of Abd al-Rahman III in the 10th century. Beware of the internet.
About 40 people had houses and lived inside the walls. The castle was one link in the vigilance system which consisted of a chain of towers along the coast. Fire was lit to warn of pirates and rival invaders.
The Christian army occupied the castle in 1485 fighting against the Nazari kingdom of Granada. The platform for cannons was built by demolishing the east tower in the 16 th century. Doña Leonor Osorio de Astorga recovered the castle from the muslims. In 1730, the Count of Montemar, General Commandant of the coast, carried out improvements to quarter a cavalry unit, stables stores, new quarters buildings etc. In 1785 the battery area was improved and the south-east and the east walls were reinforced. During the war of independence, in 1810, the castle was occupied by the French army, but abandoned two years later. In the battle of Fuengirola, between defending Polish garrison and attacking Spanish-British group, the south-west corner of the walls was demolished. It was rebuilt later of concrete with rifle holes.
A few years later the castle lost its military position and was sold to a private female for a sum equivalent of today's 50 €. However, she had no means of keeping up the castle and it was abandoned.
The buildings inside the walls and parts of the tower walls collapsed and the castle became a ruin.
The town hall bought the castle in 1988 and in 1989 the Castillo of Sohail School Workshop started restorations. In 2000 the renovations of the interior were completed.
In 2019 signs of further decay have again become evident. Access to the towers and to parts of the surrounding wall have been prevented. I hope that means to carry out restorations are quickly allocated.