The inauguration of the recently pedestrianised centre of Torremolinos took place on Thursday. The new-look central plaza and boulevard was officially opened by José Ortiz, Mayor of Torremolinos, and Salvador Moreno Peralta, the distinguished architect responsible for the ambitious project.
The rejuvenation of the centre of the town has been the mayor’s main priority since he took office in May 2015. The area, which incorporates the Plaza Costa del Sol, Avenida Palma de Mallorca and parts of Calle de la Cruz and Calle Hoyo, has undergone a complete facelift and has been transformed into a spacious boulevard with water features, bronze sculptures, colourful flower beds and shaded areas with seating.
The mayor highlighted the great transformation experienced by the town over the last three years when he said, “In these three years we have ensured that the revolution continues in Torremolinos. It is a transition to a modern town that people will believe in again. Never has so much been so quickly achieved in Torremolinos with so few resources.”
One of the most striking elements of the project, which began in January 2018, is the unique pergola that creates a soft wave effect over most of the Plaza Costa del Sol. The project focuses on the strong link between Torremolinos and water: two ornate water features have been installed in the Plaza Costa del Sol, along with the reinstallation to its original location of the old fountain.
The three-million-euro project was overseen by Peralta and involved the transformation of more than 10,000 square meters of the town, creating a Mediterranean pavement café society scene and an urban space for cultural activities, which, according to the mayor, will become “a space of coexistence”. The whole area has been paved with non-slip tiles and is designed to facilitate access to those with restricted mobility and the visually impaired.
The inauguration of the new-look Plaza Costa del Sol, which the mayor described as “the backbone of the town”, began with a presentation brunch held in the Matahambre restaurant. This was followed by the official opening, which included the sealing of a time capsule. The capsule contains testimonies of local residents, photographs from different eras of the town, current newspapers and various documents relaying the history of Torremolinos. A small plaque reveals that it is to be opened in January 2020.
Hundreds of residents and visitors turned out to witness this historic moment, which the mayor described as “an encounter with modernity”.
This was followed by the unveiling of several bronze sculptures by Malaga-based artist Elena Laverón. These include The Traders, located in front of the iconic Barrabino mansion; and the Birth of Eve, which sits at the end of the Plaza Costa del Sol.
“Our commitment was to create a new centre that would be the heart of our town and that would pump life into the rest of the municipality. We celebrate this milestone, not only by opening one of the most extensive pedestrian areas in the province, but by opening a new chapter for Torremolinos. It is the cornerstone of the comprehensive regeneration of our town centre and we will continue to extend and transform the streets and squares,” Ortiz explained.
Seeing as the official opening coincided with Saint Valentine’s Day, a ‘kissing arch’ was installed in the Avenida Palma de Mallorca. Couples were invited to have their photograph taken kissing under the arch: the photos are to be entered in an online competition with a prize of a candlelit dinner for two in one of the town’s eateries.
The renovations have not been limited to the Plaza Costa del Sol. The well-trodden steps that lead from Calle San Miguel to Bajondillo beach have been reformed and laid with ornate mosaic-style tiles, while plans to renovate the town’s symbolic watchtower have recently been approved.
The Pimentel tower was part of a Moorish defensive system and is one of only five towers - out of the 21 that remain in the province of Malaga - that dates back to the Middle Ages.
The mayor claimed that he was bewildered by the fact that the town’s monuments had been neglected in the past.
“How could a town like Torremolinos forget its heritage, neglect its history and condemn to abandonment monuments that gave the town its name,” he said.
Extensive work has also taken place in Avenida Carlota Alessandri, where parking facilities have been improved in a bid to regenerate business in the area.
There are also plans to install a lift to connect this area with the Parque Batería, one of the town’s most beautiful public parks.
However, as the mayor pointed out, the transformation of the centre is not complete, as there is “still very much work to do”. This includes the renovation of the Barrabino mansion, which will become a cultural, artistic and exhibition centre. The grand palatial home is currently undergoing a complete renovation and the work is expected to continue for another two years.
The house will gain prominence as the central focus of the square and the grounds are to be opened to allow easy access to the Plaza Picasso, and Plaza de Independencia, home of the town’s new gourmet market. The market, which is due to open in the summer, will promote the Sabor a Málaga brand and will offer fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and specialist products from the Malaga province.
“Our intention is to create a new centre of gastronomy and culture. It will be an original market aimed at those looking for local cuisine and products typical of the province of Malaga,” the mayor explained.
Another installation that will help secure Torremolinos as a first-choice destination is the Intu leisure and commercial centre, which will be located next to the Palacio de Congresos. With its lake and array of leisure attractions, including outdoor ski slope, theme park and aquarium, Intu Costa del Sol is set to become the biggest commercial and leisure complex on the Mediterranean coast.
This is the biggest transformation Torremolinos has seen since the 1960s and it is part of an overall project to improve the town’s previous ailing image.
Frank Sinatra, Bridget Bardot, Orson Wells and a host of their contemporaries enjoyed the fashionable scene that existed in Torremolinos during the 1960s. The town enjoyed continued success as a leading resort during the 70s and 80s, but over the last 20 years, it began to lose its former appeal. The bars and entertainment venues closed down one by one, due to a disastrous decline in visiting tourists; the high street shops and fast food outlets began to disappear, and the main boulevard took on the appearance of a derelict shantytown.
Torremolinos was a pioneer in the tourism industry of the Costa del Sol and the mayor is hoping his town’s new image will make it the most contemporary destination in Andalucía.
Torremolinos ended 2018 with more than five million overnight stays, its best figures for a decade. The town also achieved the first blue flag and the Q of quality for its beaches, all of which the mayor claimed was down to the “hard work of his council”.