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History of Teba

Diputación de Málaga

History of Teba

The birth of the town of Teba is directly related to the Roman occupation of the area, though the archaeological discoveries made bear witness to the presence of Prehistoric Man in key locations in the Teba area such as the Cueva de las Palomas, the settlement of Los Castillejos (an Iberian enclave considered to be the most significant and best preserved in the province), the Roman ruins of El Cortijo del Tendedero and the Cueva del Tajo del Molino, which is home to a number of cave paintings. In short, Teba is a prolific archaeological zone, as shown by the existence of over 60 different sites scattered throughout the 14,300 hectares that lie within its municipal boundaries.

The town was moved to its present site during the Muslim occupation, receiving the name Itaba, which would seem to be the origin of its modern-day name. In fact, at one time it was believed to have been named after the Roman city of Attegua, the scene of battles between Pompeii and Julius Caesar, though even when this theory was discarded as mere coincidence, the debate continued as to the true origins of the name. However, it appears that in view of the difficulty encountered in pronouncing the subsequent names given to the town, Itaba was chosen, as explained above.

Following Teba’s conquest by Alfonso 11th in the 11th century, the town remained a Christian enclave and became one of the region’s leading administrative centres, its territory being repopulated. The capture of Estrella Castle in the 14th century was a turning point in Teba’s history, even resulting in the town’s relocation, as mentioned earlier. Teba remained under Arabic control until the late 15th century, within the confines of a completely walled area covering over 25,000 square metres. During this period, many locals escaped under the walls.

Present-day Teba is a natural area located in a small valley formed by four mountain ranges. Its urban layout is of Christian origin, retaining the structure of stately and aristocratic homes bequeathed by the early nobility and the bourgeoisie that followed within the dynasty of the Count of Teba, which included Empress Eugenia de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon 3rd. This is most clearly evident in streets such as Calle Nueva, Calle San Francisco and Calle Grande. The old houses that characterise the town were built using sandstone blocks taken from the castle. Two buildings deserve special mention: the 16th century Convento de San Francisco and the Iglesia de Santa Cruz, built in the 17th. Teba also remembers its heroes: the Plaza de España is home to a monument in honour of Sir James Douglas, a Scottish gentleman who died during the conquest of Teba, while Juan Martîn Muñoz, a civil servant who aided the emigration of natives of Teba who are now returning of their own accord, has a street dedicated to his name. However, the most emblematic monument, one which symbolises the whole area, is the castle, which dominates the whole town and serves as a guiding landmark for the visitor.

Teba’s economy is based on cattle farming (primarily of the porcine variety), though cakes and textiles are other important products. A number of newer activities are also beginning to appear in the wake of the town’s modernisation and regeneration.