ICON: Sohail castle

IT’S impossible to miss the spectacular Sohail castle as you drive through the town.

Throughout its long and turbulent history, it has been Fuengirola’s stand-out monument, looming atop a grassy knoll at the mouth of the Rio Fuengirola.

It is now an open-air auditorium, used as the location for concerts and festivals throughout the summer, including a particularly popular German beer event.

But the castle’s past was not always so smooth. Built in 956 AD by Abd –ar-Rahman III to strengthen the Moorish coastal defences, the Christian armies of the Spanish monarchs took control of it in 1485 during the long and bloody war.

It remained in their possession until the war ended, but was back in use in the 18th century when the Count of Montemar developed the fortress to house a newly formed cavalry unit.

During the Peninsula War, the castle was occupied by French troops fighting for emperor Napoleon.

But as the centuries wore by, the castle’s importance as a strategic stronghold diminished, to the point where it ultimately became useless and was left abandoned and derelict for many years.

This was the case until 1989, when the Spanish Municipal Heritage organisation decided something needed to be done to preserve this important part of the town’s history.

A restoration project was launched by the Castillo Sohail School Workshop to make the castle what it is today.

The landscaped gardens make the walk to the top a pleasure, while the excavated stone ruins on public display at the western base of the hill actually date back even further than the castle, prior to Roman occupation of Fuengirola around 300 BC.

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