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The castle and watchtower of La Rábita. Javier Martín
La Rábita: A fortress that was also a monastery
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

La Rábita: A fortress that was also a monastery

Today it is a popular coastal town with hotels, an expansive beach, restaurants and bars

Jennie Rhodes

La Rábita

Sunday, 2 June 2024, 00:00

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La Rábita (Albuñol) on the coast of Granada province owes its name to the construction of the ribat or fortress-monastery, since in the Islamic period it has been a strategic coastal defence.

Ribats were fortresses built in places of strategic importance, which served as settlements for warrior-monks. During the Islamic period the ribat offered accommodation and retreat to traders from the Alpujarra. The ribat probably started off as a square tower with a small wall built around its perimeter.

Castillo de la Rábita is located on top of a small hill. It was originally by the sea, but deposits from the Angostura and Albuñol wadis (dry river except in the rainy season in Arabic) have caused it to be moved away from the coastline.

The fortress is made up of two distinct parts; the first two date back to the Islamic period and were reformed in the 16th century.

Later in the 18th century the Punta Negra, Rábita and Huarea watchtowers were built, which allowed visual contact with the coastal defence system of the coast, threatened by pirates. Nowadays, the best preserved watchtower is La Rábita, which gives stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

In modern times however, La Rábita is probably more famous for the devastating flood that hit the area in the early hours of 18-19 October 1973. The media described the floods at the time as 'Dantesque'.

La Rábita was totally devastated and dozens of people died. It is estimated that almost 600 litres per square metre fell. The walls on the edge of the dry river next to La Rábita collapsed causing the accumulated water and sediment to flow towards the village. The flood affected 101 houses, of which 74 were destroyed. The exact number of dead is not known even today.

Today La Rábita is a popular coastal town with hotels, an expansive beach, restaurants and bars.

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