History of Benalmádena
The first settlements that makes any direst reference to Benalmadena date back to the end part of the Patheolithic Era. This is witnessed to by the remains discovered in some caves within the municipality (cuevas del Toro, los Botijos o la Zorrera)
The Phoenicians arrived at these coasts in the 7th and 8th centuries before Christ, which led to an intercultural exchange that was focused on agricultural, commercial, and cattle farming matters. The remains of some Phoenicians settlements in the area give witness to this.
The Romans arrived later on, and today there a lot of Roman remains all among the coastal stretch that makes up Benalmadena. The remains of an ancient salting factory at Benal-Roma and the remains of other villas and fishing installations in the area of Torremuelle y Capellanîa are of special importance.
After a period of time during which many different civilisations visited Benalmadena, the Arabs arrived on the scene and gave the settlement the name it still has today. The sounds of the Arab words “Ben-al-Madina”, which means “Children of the mines”, came to be the origin of the town today. The reason for this can be found in the existence of a series of mines that were located in the area, which were rich in minerals such as iron, and above all ocher.
However, after the Reconquest by the Christians, the whole area underwent a period of crisis, due to the general fear that everyone felt of a possible invasion by the Arabs from the sea. The town was left almost empty as a result for some time. Many tried to encourage people to return and set up their homes but to no avail. It is only web into the 18th century that the area started to get back to some kind of normality as far as the number of inhabitants was concerned. This was due to the opening of several paper factories (four made white paper, while there were two that were dedicated to brown paper). This locally based industry lasted for some twenty years and continued on in the 19th century, with a agricultural settlement which worked with vineyards. There was a moment that this was about the only crop being grown in the whole area. At the outset of the 20th century the “phylloxera” plague hit the crops and almost everything was lost and this in turn led to an important economic crisis. However, after the reconquest by the Christains, the area went through a rather dark period as it suffered a severe depopulation, as everyone feared an attack from the sea.
The once Castle and fortifications of Benalmadea (which occupied the modern day Muro de Benalmadena Pueblo) were systemactically destroyed during this time, so that there is little or no trace of that Era today.
The symbol of Benalmadena is a Bronze statue of a girl known as the “Niña de Benalmadena” which was raised carefully in the Plaza de España from the end of the 60’s up to today. This piece of art by Jaime Pimentel came at a moment of great euphoria due to the upturn in the local economy. It was almost like a sign indicating that the locality’s links with tourism and the highest levels of International Cultural life were to be strengthened. Curiously enough, it had been sculptured in order to be given as a prize for an International Cinema Festival. This kind of prediction as to Benalmadena’s international role son became evident when it was twinned with the famous sculpture of Manekken Pis in Brussels.
The presence of people of different nationalities in the town sometimes creates some unique opportunities, such as the live re-enactment of the Passion of Christ in the streets or a commemoration service dedicated to the dead in the second world war, organised by the Association of War veterans of the British Legion, which has a group active in Benalmadena.
“Benalmadena Pueblo” is 280 metres above sea level and as such can offer visitors some exceptional views of the Costa Del Sol, which was called the "Vigîa de la Costa" with the Torres del Muelle and the Torre Quebrada , during the reign of the Catholic Kings. From the square next to the church visitors can get a fantastic view of the whole urban spread that constitutes Benalmadena as web as the old county estate known as Arroyo de la Miel, which was the name of an old sugar factory that existed in the 18th century. The village has preserved its traditional architectural style, with the narrow streets and white-washed houses.
The extensive tourism development has provided Benalmadena with some excellent amenities and important services It can boast of being home to one of the largest pleasure harbours of the whole southern coast (Puerto Marina), one of the first amusement parks that was built in the region (Tivoli World) and one of the most renowned casinos in the area (The Torrequebrada Casino; inaugurated in 1980).
The town also has many hidden treasures, like the Archaeological Museum, where a magnificient collection of Precolumbian pieces is exhibited since 1970. The collection was initiated by the generous donation of D.Felipe Orlando who inherited a lot of important pieces from his grandfather. This Mexican man, who came to the Costa and decided to set up his residence in the village, refused to sell the objects that had been discovered in some Pre-Columbian archaeological sites and preferred to give them to the Local authority on the condition that they be exhibited locally. This encouraged others to take interest in the subject and soon some Neolithic remains were discovered in caves in the Mijas mountain range. Other pieces that have been dug up at many different places along the coast have also been included into the exhibition such as the statue of "Diana Cazadora"
Another interesting feature within the Benalmadena boundary is the Castillo de Colomares. Construction began in 1987 and was promoted by D. Esteban Martîn, in honour of Columbus. As far as its architectural design is concerned, the castle, which has some splendid views of the coast, combines some mudejar, gothic and renaissance elements. There is also the Bil-Bil castle, which is right on the seafront in the centre of the town. It was first built to be a private house but in the form of a castle
To sum up, in Benalmádena visitors can find two quite different kinds of places to enjoy; the typical white-washed Andalusian village with its narrow, steep streets or the more modern Benalmadena with its beach and leisure offer.