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Aerial view of Roquetas de Mar in Almeria province. SUR
Roquetas de Mar: Watchtowers and an archaeological dig
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Roquetas de Mar: Watchtowers and an archaeological dig

Written sources suggest that the area, which is on the coast of Almeria province, was of great importance during the Roman Empire

Jennie Rhodes

Roquetas de Mar

Friday, 22 March 2024, 15:27

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Roquetas de Mar is a popular coastal town in the southwest of Almeria province and includes the districts of Aguadulce, El Parador, Las Marinas, Urbanización Roquetas and Las Salinas. It forms part of the Punta Entinas-Sabinar nature reserve which is made up of dunes, beaches and lagoons.

Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans all settled there, although it was not until the 18th century that the area grew into a proper town.

The site of modern-day Roquetas de Mar was originally called Turan and during Roman times the name was changed to Turaniana - a name given to one of the town's secondary schools.

Turaniana was inhabited between the first and second and again during the fifth and sixth centuries AD and its remains were discovered in 1859 by the archaeologist Miguel Ruiz de Villanueva.

Watchtower

During Spain's Islamic period, Sultan Yusuf built a castle in Los Bajos and other watchtowers included Cerrillos, Santa Ana castle and Las Roquetas, which gave rise to the modern-day name of the town in the 17th century. The word 'Roqueta' means 'watchtower built within the enclosure of a fortress'.

In 1991 the archeological site found by Ruiz de Villanueva was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC). The latest excavations, both those carried out in 2018 and those carried out in 2021, helped to gain a better understanding of the life of this important Roman site.

In 2022, the Abdera Research Group, who led the archaeological dig at the site between 2018 and 2021, said that "written sources" about the site "lead us to believe that this settlement or village continued to be important in various stages of the Roman Empire".

Roquetas de Mar is now a favourite holiday resort for Spanish and foreign visitors alike and boasts a marina and golf course among its attractions.

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