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The remains of the tower from which Torre del Mar gets its name. J. R.
Torre del Mar: A strategic military tower of the sea
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Torre del Mar: A strategic military tower of the sea

The remains of the fortress can be seen on Plaza de la Axarquía where the roundhouse, which would have been a tower, still stands

Jennie Rhodes

Torre del Mar

Friday, 3 May 2024, 16:02

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Torre del Mar forms part of the municipality of Vélez-Málaga and is one of eight coastal towns and villages that come under this local authority.

According to Vélez-Málaga historian Francisco Montoro Fernández, "Almost without a doubt the origin of the centre of Torre del Mar started during the Phoenician period." He argues that it is "logical" given the town's "natural port" and that the Phoenicians would have arrived via the sea.

Furthermore, there are a number of remains from this period in and around the town, for example Los Toscanos near to the Río Vélez.

The historian says that the first written reference to the town comes from the 11th century, from Abd Allah, the last Ziri king of Granada, and in the 12th century Al-Idrisi wrote, in Description of Spain, of his journey through Torre del Mar in which he refers to a "small fortress".

This small fortress dates back to the Islamic period when it was known as 'Torre Alcozaiba'. The name was changed to Torre del Mar, literally tower of the sea, in 1487 by the Catholic monarchs after they captured Vélez-Málaga during the Reconquista.

How historians believe the castle looked originally.
How historians believe the castle looked originally. SUR

Montoro says that the word 'torre' indicates the important "military origin" of the town and that the castle "formed part of the defence system of the old Al-Andalus coastline".

Over the centuries it has served both as a strategic military fortress and a customs house, from where local products such as raisins, almonds and sweet wines would have been exported to northern Europe.

It also played a vital role in the Battle of Vélez-Málaga during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704, shortly after Britain took Gibraltar.

What is left of the original castle can be seen on Plaza de la Axarquía. Although there are practically no remains of the castle, it is still possible to see the circular house located to the right of the square, which would have been one of the towers.

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