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Castillo de Zalia (Zalia’s Castle)

Diputación de Málaga
Castillo de Zalia. Sistema árabe terrazas. Alcaucín

Castillo de Zalia (Zalia’s Castle)

Records from the 12th century refer to it as the district leader for the surrounding farmsteads and the main defensive bastion of La Axarquía region. In 1485 the Castilian troops conquered it. Although it was planned to be redeveloped, it seems such plans never took place.

As occurred in many other highlands in the province, the geographically strategic location of the castle was key during Umar Ibn Hafsun’s revolt against the Emirate of Córdoba. It is located between the coast and the high plateaus in Granada, across the Alcaucín River and the Boquete de Zafarraya cave. The first documented reference to the castle dates back to 909 on the occasion of the civil war. In 1985, it was declared a Heritage Site of Cultural Interest.

This is one of the oldest examples of fortification remains known to man. Elements discovered here have led experts to conclude that the original construction may have been built by the Phoenicians and subsequently modified by other civilisations.

What is certain is that it was occupied by the Arabs and, later, the Christians, serving in the case of the latter as a “prison-cum-bishopric for restless Moorish converts".

According to Diego Vázquez Otero, many believe that these might be the remains of ancient Odyscia, scene of the incredible feats performed by Ulysses, King of Itaca, during one of his journeys through the area.

The castle owes its name to Queen Zalia, who was said to have descended daily to the river to bathe.

One Christian legend has it that the Bishop of Málaga, Salia Patricio, came to the village to convert its people but was unable to fulfil his mission. The story goes that as a punishment, the Lord caused the ground to open up and snakes to emerge, biting the inhabitants of Salia by day. In the end, the people were forced to flee the village, which has lain abandoned to this day.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Castillos y paisajes malagueños by Diego Vázquez Otero

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