A view of the urban area of Alhaurín de la Torre. SUR
Alhaurín de la Torre: the little sister that gained a tower

Alhaurín de la Torre: the little sister that gained a tower


Although the place name is of Arabic origin, there is no exact translation as there are no known references written in Arabic


Friday, 10 February 2023


Alhaurín de la Torre has been linked to Alhaurín el Grande since the Muslim occupation of Spain. In the 16th century, the distinction Alhaurinejo (small Alhaurín) appeared to refer to the current Alhaurín de la Torre, which, at that time, was smaller in area, population and political and economic status, while the current Alhaurín el Grande was considered the main town.

The previous reference to size is not currently valid, since the first municipality has long exceeded the second by more than 20,000 inhabitants.

Although this differentiation is recorded, there is no certainty regarding its origin, or the significance of its name.

Under Roman rule, the settlement was known as Lauro Vetus, although the Muslim occupation is responsible for its current toponym of Alhaurín. Many historians believe that the Catholic Monarchs added the suffix of 'de la Torre' in reference to the town's defensive tower.

Although the place name is of Arabic origin, there is no exact translation as there are no known references written in Arabic to the old Nasrid 'alquería', according to the historian and archivist from the Sesmero research centre in Alhaurín de la Torre, José Manuel de Molina.

"All the names differed from each other since they first appeared at the end of the 15th century, sometimes changing the consonant l for r. It is what in phonetics (the study of speech sounds) is known as lambdacism (excessive use or idiosyncratic pronunciation of the letter l). Thus, on some occasions it is written Alaulin, on others Laulin, Laolin or Laorin, until it appeared in the 16th century as 'Alhaurinejo' to distinguish it from the town of Alhaurín (Alhaurín el Grande)," the researcher explains.

De Molina gives this example: "Assuming that the letter o is not written in Arabic, and that the prefix becomes Al, we would have 'Al Aurin', but this word has no meaning in this language. In the case of being 'Al Aulin', it could be translated as 'The first two' - the first people of the Algarbía to leave Malaga? Once again, the lack of an Arabic written source deprives us of that knowledge," he adds.

Around the 10th century, the Muslims who settled in this area divided the province into two halves. The Axarquía (Eastern Málaga) and the Algarbía (Occidental Málaga), an area that we know today as Valle del Guadalhorce, Sierra de las Nieves and Costa del Sol.

The researcher points out that, as in the case of Algeciras, which was originally 'Al Yasirah Al Hadra' (the green island), only the first part of the place name has survived. "It would not be strange that the second part of the name had been lost when the full name was translated into Spanish," he says.

Subsequently, documents throughout the 16th century continued to use the place names of Alaolin, until in 1540, it became referred to as Laurinejo. In 1551, it became Alhaurinejo, a name that was maintained throughout the 17th century, and which is found in bishopric documents until the year 1730, as well as in the meeting minutes of Malaga city council until 1811.

The researcher says that in a census of 1646, it appears as Alhaurín de la Torre.

A letter sent by the parish priest of Alhaurín el Grande to Royal Geographer Tomás López on 5 June 1780 points out that "Alaurinejo and Alhaurín de la Torre is the same place, but its proper name is the latter, which, is two leagues to the east from this town."

Another of the existing theories is that of the historian Francisco Baquero Luque, who, in 1999, introduced the idea that 'Hawwara', which in the Arabic plural would be 'Al-Hawwariyin', corresponded to a Berber tribe settled in numerous locations in the province of Malaga. Luque believes that this possibly led to the name of Alhaurín.

De Molina recalls how Ibn al Khatib spoke of the wealth of the Hawara tribe, which dominated trade in the Berber city of Aghmat until this enclave was conquered by the Almoravids, and the importance of the caravan trade was replaced by Sichilmassa, an important mercantile centre in the Muslim Middle Ages.

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