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View of the façade of the Casa de los Navajas L. Cádiz
La Casa de los Navajas, from bourgeois palace to tourist attraction in Torremolinos
Tourism

La Casa de los Navajas, from bourgeois palace to tourist attraction in Torremolinos

Built in 1929 in the middle of the cliff that divides Torremolinos in two, today it crowns the Bajondillo beach and there is hardly a tourist who passes by and does not visit

Lorena Cádiz

Torremolinos

Sunday, 3 September 2023, 08:56

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A handful of steps link the Bajondillo beach, a busy tourist area in Torremolinos, with the mansion known as Casa de los Navajas. A steep climb that is well worth it because, once at the top, you don't know whether to look forward or look back. Behind you the view offers a unique perspective of the Torremolinos coastline, and directly in front, this building appears in all its splendour, one of the most unique in the town.

The house was the first palace built by the bourgeoisie in Torremolinos which, in the first decades of the 20th century, was beginning to emerge as a place for enjoyment and relaxation, before becoming the tourist hotbed it still is today.

In 1925, Antonio Luque Navajas, having fallen in love with Torremolinos, decided to build his house in the town, and he did so on the slope of the cliff between the upper part of the town, where today the centre is located, and the lower part, which is the coast. "A hostile terrain, where there was no other property, and which meant using innovative construction techniques, since it was necessary to design a small building in the middle of the slope and on the stone that forms the cliff". This is how the councillor for Culture at Torremolinos town hall, José Manuel Ruiz Rivas, described it.

Luque Navajas was a landowner with sugar cane plantations on the land where Malaga Airport is located today. "You have to remember that between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the main industry in Malaga was sugar cane, with the Larios family at the forefront," Ruiz pointed out. When he decided on the location where to build his retirement or holiday home, he knew that it wouldn't be very big, because the terrain wouldn't allow it. But it was not the size that he was looking for, the coup de grace that the family wanted at the time was in the differentiation: a palace of a completely original design, and located in a unique environment.

Therefore, the mansion was built in a neo-Mudejar style. "La Casa de los Navajas is a small palace, but when it was built it was not for size but for the distinction of the family, to place them in society. "It has a very particular charm, it is a balcony overlooking the sea and at that time, if you looked towards Torremolinos from the beach, the only thing you could see, in the middle of the cliff, was the mansion".

Three generations of the same family lived in the Navajas house and it was not until the year 2000 that the town hall acquired the property, distinguished as a building of historical interest by the Junta de Andalucía. At that time, the town hall reached an agreement with the family and a relative of the Navajas family stayed in the mansion until his death. This explains why it was not until 2011 that the necessary renovation work began, which was inaugurated in 2014.

A visitor contemplates the views from one of the viewpoints of the Casa de los Navajas.
A visitor contemplates the views from one of the viewpoints of the Casa de los Navajas. L. Cádiz

Today the Casa de los Navajas is a space used for civil weddings, exhibitions and cultural events. It is also the most visited monument in the town. "It is the most symbolic. There are countless visitors who, as they pass along the promenade, look up, are surprised and come and see that they can visit it," Ruiz Rivas said.

The palace is completely symmetrical and is topped by two round bay windows. Its interior is made up of plasterwork in the Alhambra style. "That year the Universal Exhibition was held in Seville and they liked it and represented it in their house to the point that the tiles bear the eight-pointed star of the Tartessians and some verses from the Koran, to take the detail to the extreme". The façade is adorned with mosaics from Seville, from the La Viuda factory, which represent allegories to the seasons of the year, with the curiosity that there is only one season that is not represented, winter. "We believe it may have been a gesture with which they intended to convey that there is no winter in Torremolinos, or that this was their escape corner, always in summer," said the councillor.

Two mysteries

The Casa de los Navajas houses two mysteries that have been preserved over time. The first is that despite the beauty of the building, it is not known who the architect was, and the second is that in an interior garden, in which the rock of the cliff has been respected, there are holes dug into the rock itself, and which are covered up. "Some say that the family used them for storage and others say that they form part of a cave route that crosses the whole of Torremolinos underground".

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