The municipality of Almuñécar is situated in the Spanish Region of Andalusia on the Costa Tropical. It has a subtropical climate. It lies in the province of Granada, and has around 30,000 inhabitants. Currently Almuñécar is one of the most important tourist towns in the province of Granada and on the Costa Tropical; with it great transport connections it is a popular destination for many.
Almuñécar used to be a Phoenician colony named Sexi, and till this day the inhabitants are referred to as Sexitanos. When the Moors ruled Almuñécar it started blossoming as a fishing town. Roman and Greek sources already spoke about the Phoenician and Roman history of the town but it wasn’t until the 1950s that significant archaeological evidence was discovered.
During the Phoenicians period there was an important fish salting and curing industry, even supplying Greece and Rome. You can visit the excavated ruins of the Phoenician fish salting factory in the Majuelo Park. There is also a large collection of Phoenician grave goods and other artefacts on display in the town museum, which is located at the Castle of San Miguel and in the ‘Cueva de Siete Palacios’.
Then the Romans came. This was at the time of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage in 218 BC with the objective to subdue the Phoenician settlements along the coast. The Romans ruled for 700 years and the towns industry prospered.
In the 1970 and 1980s some important evidence of the fish salting and curing industry was uncovered 1980s in the Majuelo Botanical Gardens. This was proof of the large extent of modernisation of the industry by the Romans. Salting and curing requires large quantities of fish and sea salt but also a constant supply of fresh running water.
For this reason the Romans built four miles of water conduit in the valleys of the Rio Seco and the Rio Verde, including five significant aqueducts. All of these have been conserved and more amazingly, four are still in use after 2,000 years – although they were later adapted by the Moors for crop irrigation. Of course the Roman water supply also served the town. Fairly recent excavations in the town centre have uncovered the fifth aqueduct and the Roman baths. Some other Roman remains in the area include a Roman bridge at Cotobro and Roman tombs in several locations.
During many years the town was ruled by Visigoths and then the Muslims. The first Muslim invasion of southern Spain was in 711 AD near Gibraltar. The Moors introduced the sugar cane cultivation; many of the buildings of the old town were built by the Moors. The castle was the seat of government and the stronghold of the city.
The cross on Peñon del Santo, which is a rock at the old harbour entrance, marks the defeat of the Arabs and the return of Christian rule in 1489.
When the Christians ruled again they constructed new buildings amongst which the first Baroque-style church in the province of Granada.
A big thank you to Leonardo Cervilla Rivero who provided all the photos for this article.