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Fuengirola (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-01-07 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Fuengirola

The municipality of Fuengirola 77,525 inhabitants in 2015, therefore the 5th most populated municipality in the province; 1,043 ha; unofficial website) is located 30 km south-west of Málaga. The municipality experienced a demographic boom in the second half of the 20th century, its population increasing from 6,774 in 1950 to 49,675 in 2001.

Fuengirola was identified in 1663 by M. Fariñas del Corral, a scholar from Ronda, as the town of Suel, mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy and listed on the Antonine Itinerary on the way between Gades and Malaka. In 1606, Bernardo Alderete excavated near the castle the pedestal of a statue, whose engraving indicates that Suel had the municipal status. A funerary altar found in the same area is inscribed with "Suelitana". Remains of Roman thermae were found in Torreblanca. The so-called Secretary's Villa yielded the Fuengirola Venus. Archeological remains provide evidence that the town mostly lived from fishing.
Historians have pointed out that the town was no longer mentioned in medieval sources; it could have been destroyed by an earthquake, its inhabitants could have emigrated to Mijas because of the threat represented by pirates, or it might have been sacked by the Visigoths.

During the Muslim period, the place was known as Suhayl. Settled with several farms, the area was mostly used as a pasture for the royal camels, while fishing was still the main source of income. Several authors mentioned Suhayl as the capital of an iqlin (district). The town was a place of culture and wealth, famous for his scholars, especially the poet As-Suhayli, who recalled in a lament the burning down of his cherished birth town and the exile of the survivors to Mijas.
When reconquerred in 1485 by the Christians and renamed Fuengirola for a fountain (font) located close to the castle, nothing had been preserved from the flourishing town but the castle. Attempts of resettlement failed until the 18th century because of the threat of Turkish and Barbaresque raids. An inn was erected on the other side of the river, facing the site of the old town, to accommodate travellers, muleteers and seamen. A few huts were built nearby, the small settlement being known as La Venta (The Inn).
In May 1822, the inhabitants of La Venta petitioned at the Provincial Council to get the municipal status, which was compliant with the Constitution, since the village had more than 1,000 inhabitants. The request was turned down by the municipality of Mijas. The next petition, tabled in February 1841 by Nicolás Cotrina, was more successful: the municipality of Fuengirola was established on 30 May 1841. The new municipality struggled until 1926 to increase its territory, to no avail.

In the middle of the 19th century, wine-growing superseded fishing as the main source of income in Fuengirola. Brought by wine-growers from the eastern part of the province, vineyards covered in 1857 nearly 10% of the municipal territory. The new wealth of the town was short-lived, since the phylloxera, officially recognized in 1878 in Málaga, suppressed all the vineyards. They were replanted in the beginning of the 20th century with American rootstock (Vitis riparia) resistant to the insect.
Sugar cane cultivation was introduced in the 1950s, to be suppressed in the 1970s, when all agricultural lands, olive tree orchards and vineyards included, were converted to urban areas.
The inauguration of the railway station in 1916 boosted the re-emergence of the town, facilitating the access of tourists to the town. "Foreign" tourists were attracted by well-designed communication campaigns in the local press. Stopped by the Civil War, the development of the sea resort resumed in the early 1950s, with the building of the first hotels and camping places. while roads were asphalted.

Fuengirola is the birth town of the footballer Juanito (1954-1992), who played for Real Madrid from 1977 to 1987, winning the Liga in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1986 and 1987 and two UEFA Cups, and gained 34 caps with the national team (9 goals). His tragic death in a car accident caused a big stir in Spain.
The other local sports hero is the sailor Theresa Zabell (b. 1965; biography). Member of Real Club Mediterráneo de Málaga and known as the Spanish Queen of Yachting, Zabell was No. 1 in the world ranking in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997. In the 470 class, she won two Olympic titles (1992, with Patricia Guerra; 1996, with Begoña Vía Dufresne), three World Championships (1992, 1995, 1996) and three Europe Championships (1991, 1992, 1994); she won another world title in the Europa class (1985). After her retirement for competition, she seated at the Parliament (PP) from 1999 to 2004.

Ivan Sache, 18 September 2016

Symbols of Fuengirola

The flag of Fuengirola is horizontally divided celestial blue - white - celestial blue, with a star in upper fly, and, sometimes, a big emblem in the center. The flag does not appear to have been officially registered.
The few available photos of the flag (photo, photo, photo) are not helpful to decide whether the stripes are straight or wavy.

Ivan Sache, 18 September 2016