“El Faro” Roman villa and baths (Hydraulic Heritage)
• Heritage Value: Low
• Landscape Value: Medium
• Condition: Low state of repair
• Type of hydraulic structure: Baths
• Stage of the Great Málaga Path: Stage 3
• Where to find it: Torrox
• Period: 1st - 2nd centuries CE
• Architect: Unknown
• UTM Coordinates: 414471,1869, 4065135,792
HOW TO FIND IT
The ruins lie next to the Torrox lighthouse (Faro in Spanish), on a narrow cape by the village of Torrox. Take the N-340 road. The site is 41 km from Málaga and 20 km from Vélez-Málaga.
These Roman sites originated in the 1st century BCE and lasted until the 5th century CE. They have been linked to the Roman city of Caviclum, mentioned in classical sources as an official stop on the road from Castulo to Malaca.
The earliest human presence was detected at the Neolithic site of Los Caserones, where settlements and factories were discovered. One of the most intensively-studied periods is the Roman era, to which the maritime village or Caviclum belongs. This 1st-to-4th-century archaeological complex is located near Torrox lighthouse, the site of the Castillo Bajo. It comprises hot baths, a villa featuring mosaics and pottery kilns that once produced the amphorae used to store the Roman sauce known as garum and salt fish at the fish factory, whose troughs were utilised in the necropolis subsequently built here. The arrival of the Arabs saw the area gain new momentum in the shape of agricultural activity, handicrafts and industry (dyed silk), with a total of eight hamlets springing up at Alhandiga, Almedina, Arcos, Benamayor, Cajaula, Lautín,
Lugarejo and Periana. During the Moorish uprising in 1569, many would take part in the burning of houses and mills and the fortress before being defeated at the Battle of El Peñón de Frigiliana.
The excavations and historical sources available confirm that this site was once a significant production and export centre for both fish and agricultural produce linked to the town of Caviclum, which, according to Antoninus’ Itinerary, stood between the villages of Sexi (Almuñécar) and Menoba (at the mouth of the River Vélez).
Unfortunately, the development of the area around the lighthouse has swept away a series of other elements which would have completed our knowledge of this key location. As a result, the part of it that remains has acquired even greater importance as a testimony to our rich cultural history.
It was discovered and excavated in 1905, the year the lighthouse was built. An extensive series of rooms arranged around a peristyle was discovered, of which only a small area to the west, re-excavated in 1940, remains uncovered.
The part that is visible today consists of several rooms laid out around a little atrium with an impluvium (a little water trough). Although the building materials used were poor (slate and stone blocks bound together with sand and limestone), the finished construction was considerably more luxurious in appearance, its walls covered with stuccowork painted in red and ochre. In addition, the floor was decorated with mosaics, some remains of which can still be found here, while others are on display at the Museo Arquelógico de Málaga. The villa would have experienced its golden age in the 3rd century CE.