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History of Tolox

Diputación de Málaga

History of Tolox

Few records exist regarding the origins of the town: some claim that the Phoenicians were the first to arrive, others point to the Tartessians, while remains of Neolithic settlements were found in the Cueva de la Tinaja.

One fact about which there is no doubt is the presence of the Romans. Remains discovered in the area include a headstone engraved in Latin unearthed in 1770, part of a funeral monument erected in honour of the son of a patrician resident here.

In any event, the first reliable information regarding the history of Tolox dates back to 883, when the castle was occupied by Omar Ben Hafsun, who fortified it and made it one of the most important in the kingdom, whose leader resided in the city of Bobastro, and a key location for the Emirs of Córdoba. On Omar’s death in 917, the castle was inherited by Soleiman, one of his four sons, who was defeated in 921 by Abderramán, who destroyed the fortress and ordered the building of an aljama or synagogue.

The area was incorporated by the Catholic crown in 1487. Records of the time reveal that Tolox was governed by Angulo Sancho, who was awarded seven territories in the distribution of 1488. The Catholic Monarchs permitted all Arabs who wished to continue living in the town to do so, though in a separate district and on the condition that they agreed to be vassals of the crown, allowing them to conserve there religion, judiciary system, language and dress. These privileges were gradually suppressed during subsequent reigns until the Arabs were forced to either convert to Christianity or leave the town for Africa.

This same period, in which Moors and Christians lived in separate quarters, saw one of the most serious clashes between the two, when, on Christmas Eve 1568, the servant of the beneficiary and the daughter of the Moorish governor argued over the merits of their respective pastries, the baker preferring the beneficiary’s fare. The Moorish girl threatened the servant, telling her of the ambush that was planned for the Christians that very night, which saw the beginning of a cruel and bloody conflict between the two factions during which the Christians were forced to take refuge in Alozaina Castle while the Moors burned down their houses.

Tolox stands at the foot of the Sierra Blanca and Sierra Parda mountain ranges, at the heart of the Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves. Its urban design consists of steep, winding streets with irrigation ditches to transport water. Its houses, like those found in the rest of the region, feature whitewashed exteriors adorned with a multitude of flowers. Visitors can enjoy peaceful locations of immense beauty, such as Plaza de los Poyos or La Rinconada del Castillo, also known as "Los Llanitos". On the edge of town, the Ermita de San Roque, named after Tolox’s patron saint, stands guard over the town. However, it is Tolox’s ecological riches that make it one of the most attractive towns in the region, consisting of pine groves, ancient gall oaks and a number of rivers. The local economy is primarily based on orange and olive production, not forgetting tourism, which grew as a result of the town’s famous spa.