The Costa Tropical boasts a rich tapestry of history woven through its impressive castles and historic sites. From the formidable Almuñécar Castle overlooking the sea to the ancient Phoenician Necropolis of Trayamar, every stone tells a story of the past. Explore the architectural wonders that stand as testaments to the region’s cultural heritage, offering breathtaking views and a fascinating journey through time. Whether you’re drawn to Moorish fortresses or Roman ruins, the Costa Tropical’s castles and monuments promise a captivating glimpse into centuries gone by.
The city of Granada, just an hour’s drive from the Costa Tropical, is the location of the Alhambra, one of the most famous historic buildings in the world, visited by over 3 million people every year. It is one of the most important monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world, in addition to containing notable examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture. The Generalife gardens at the Alhambra, with their intricate fountains and meticulously designed pathways, hold immense historic significance as they were created during the Nasrid dynasty in the 14th century, showcasing the architectural and horticultural prowess of Islamic Spain. Click the button below to find out more about the Alhambra.
The most famous historic site on the area. Perched on the San Miguel Hill, with commanding views of Almuñécar, this Arab stronghold occupies a site once utilized by Phoenicians and Romans, evident from various historical sources and remnants of Roman constructions. The castle’s architecture distinctly reflects its Moorish origins, having served as a retreat for the Nasrid dynasty during the 13th century. In the later years of King Ferdinand’s reign in the 16th century, defensive enhancements including a moat, drawbridge, and an imposing entrance façade with four circular towers were added. The castle endured bombardment during the War of Independence against the French by English forces, leaving it in a state of disrepair. It later functioned as a Christian cemetery until the mid-20th century. Notably, a neoclassical pavilion, seemingly unrelated to the castle’s design and possibly constructed in the 18th century, now houses the City Museum.
From April 1st to June 30th and from September 16th to October 30th:
Tuesday to Saturday
10am – 1:30pm / 5pm – 7:30pm
Sunday 10am – 1pm
From July 1st to September 15th:
Tuesday to Saturday
10am – 1:30pm / 6:30pm – 9pm*
Sunday 10am – 1:00pm
From November 1st to March 31st
Tuesday to Saturday
10am– 1:30pm / 4:00pm – 6:30pm
Sunday 10:00am – 1pm
Note: Ticket office closes 30 minutes before the castle’s closing time.
Admission fee: 4 euros. Children and pensioners 2,5 euros.
Its building completed in 1771 as as part of improvements in the coastal defense of the former Kingdom of Granada during the reign of Charles III. Its original designation was “Battery for four cannons of La Herradura”.
La Herradura Castle hosts the Centro de Interpretación “1562 La Furia del Mar about the shipwreck of the Armada in 1562 on this area.
From Wednesday to Sunday: 10am – 2pm / 5-8 pm
Prices: adults:4 euros, children and pensioners 2 euros, groups (15 people) 1,5 euros
Tickets are on sale up to 45 minutes before closing
Location: Calle Fortaleza 4
The existence of a fortification in Salobreña has been known since the 10th century. While the layout corresponds to the construction erected during the Nasrid period, the Arab castle is the result of both Muslim and Christian architectural contributions.
During the Nasrid period, it housed a royal palace used for rest, which also served as a royal prison.
The castle was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1489.
The castle retained its military significance until the late 18th century.
Reports from 1739 indicate that it was abandoned and in significant disrepair.
It did not have a specific or utilitarian function, as it did not serve for coastal defense. Nevertheless, the cavalry assigned to the castle had the mission of patrolling from La Caleta to the mouth of the Guadalfeo River.
Starting in 1849, it was used by the customs officers, who established a signaling post within it.
From its towers, one can admire the urban layout of Salobreña, the fertile plain, the Mediterranean Sea, the adjacent mountain ranges, and even Sierra Nevada.
June 15-Agust 31: 10am – 1:30pm / 5:30pm – 8pm.
September until last Saturday in October: 10am – 2pm / 5-7:30pm.
Last Sunday in October until- February 28: 10am – 2pm / 4-6pm /
March 1- last Saturday in March: 10am – 2pm / 5-7pm.
Last sunday in March until June 14th: 10am – 2pm / 5:30-8:30pm.
Last access is 30 minutes before the closing.
Closed on December 24th, 25th and 31st, January 1st.
Prices: adults:4 euros, free for children younger than 12 years old
Location: Calle Paseo de las Flores, s/n, 18680.
Almuñécar is home to a wealth of archaeological sites. One of the most notable is the fish salting factory located within El Majuelo Park.
This historical site preserves the remains of a Roman-era facility where fish were processed for preservation. This industry, which dates back to Phoenician times, played a pivotal role in Almuñécar’s economy between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The Phoenicians were renowned navigators of their era, coming from Asia Minor. They established several fish salting factories along the Andalusian coast, which were later Romanized and continued operation.
Its remains are found in the El Majuelo Botanical Park. The factory was situated in a sheltered cove near the mouth of the Seco River. It was was strategically placed close to the port yet away from the city to mitigate any unpleasant odors or insect issues.
Evidence of the factory’s operation can be traced back to the 4th century BCE, but its peak productivity occurred in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. This was due to the immense impact of fish processing and sauce production, particularly the highly sought-after Garum de Sexi, which was widely valued across the Roman Empire. This economic activity also led to the flourishing of related industries like pottery and shipbuilding.
The factory’s layout followed the standard design of its time, featuring central tanks where fish were preserved with salt. The process took several weeks to months. Surrounding areas were dedicated to cleaning, preparation, and storage, while administrative functions were carried out in the southern section. Fresh water was supplied through an aqueduct, with storage cisterns on hand.
The heart of the factory was the production area, where fish fillets were layered with salt in the tanks. These tanks were designed at ground level for easy filling, with rounded edges to prevent any structural damage and lined with a waterproofing material called opus signinum. The entire factory was covered with wooden roofs to shield the production process from the elements. The extensive and intricate nature of the El Majuelo fish salting factory highlights its central role in Almuñécar’s economy.
However, by the 4th century CE, the factory’s importance began to wane, leading to its eventual repurposing as a sacred burial site.
Though a portion of the site is now buried beneath the El Majuelo Botanical-Archaeological Park, visitors can still explore a substantial section of the salting tanks and structures excavated in the 1970s and 1980s.
Opening time: 9am-11pm
Location: Calle Nueva, 8, Almuñécar
The Roman aqueduct in Almuñécar, built around the 1st century CE, is a remarkable testament to the city’s Roman heritage, alongside the well-preserved fish salting factory. This aqueduct served as a vital water supply for the ancient Roman city of Sexi (now Almuñécar), and later played a role in the Arab irrigation system. Even today, parts of it continue to support traditional irrigation practices, making it the best-preserved Roman aqueduct in Andalusia.
This aqueduct is quite extensive, spanning over 7 kilometers and divided into five distinct sections. In its prime, it featured a complex network of tunnels, siphons, arched covers, and open stretches, all designed to transport clean water for various purposes, including the fish salting industry.
Five sections of the aqueduct still stand, showcasing its impressive preservation. Notable among these are Torrecuevas, La Carrera, and segments I, II, and III of Río Seco. Each of these sections has its unique architectural features, with the Carrera de la Concepción portion spanning 91 meters and boasting twelve arches. Meanwhile, the Torrecuevas section, situated near the Río Verde, extends 130 meters and includes the tallest visible stretch. The III section is particularly awe-inspiring, measuring 72 meters and characterized by two distinct structures with nine main arches.
The aqueduct’s water source was located in La Angostura area near Jete, by the Río Verde. Here stood the castellum acquae, a reservoir for distributing water, believed to be situated at the highest point of the area. In addition to the well-preserved irrigation sections still in use and underground channels, there were several sectors where the conduit utilized aqueducts to navigate the terrain. This aqueduct has been recognized as a Cultural Heritage Site since 1931.
To explore the aqueduct, accessible sections are found in the Torrecuevas neighborhood, integrated into a spacious square. Additionally, three less-frequented yet exceptionally beautiful stretches are located along the course of the Río Seco, offering a picturesque approach to Almuñécar through the countryside. These sections feature multiple arches of varying heights, ingeniously designed to accommodate the natural slope of the terrain. The last of these sections is also situated in a small park named “Parque El Acueducto,” accessible from the highest point of the San Sebastián neighborhood. Visitors can reach it by turning left at the end of the road’s ascent from the Suspiro del Moro viewpoint and descending to the Río Seco area where the park is located.
The most well-known accessible section for visitors is the one in the Carrera de la Concepción, integrated into the town and accompanied by the ruins of Roman baths. There is no entrance fee or specific opening hours for the aqueduct, except for the Parque del Acueducto area, which has set opening times from 9am to 9pm.
The Roman Baths of Almuñécar, also known as “Termas Romanas,” stand as a remarkable testament to the ancient Roman presence in this coastal town of southern Spain. Situated in the heart of Almuñécar’s historic center, these well-preserved baths offer a fascinating glimpse into the daily life and customs of the Roman inhabitants who once occupied this area.
Believed to have been constructed during the 1st century CE, the Roman Baths are a testament to the advanced engineering and architectural skills of the Romans. This thermal complex served as a vital social and recreational hub for the citizens of Sexi, the Roman name for Almuñécar. Here, residents would gather to relax, socialize, and partake in various health and wellness rituals.
The layout of the baths follows the traditional Roman pattern, comprising different chambers dedicated to specific stages of bathing. Visitors would start in the “caldarium,” a hot room where steam and warm air were used to induce sweating and open pores. This was followed by the “tepidarium,” a warm room, and then the “frigidarium,” a cold room, providing a gradual transition to cooler temperatures. Adjacent to these chambers were spaces for exercise and massage, as well as rooms for socializing.
The architecture of the Roman Baths showcases the Romans’ mastery in utilizing materials like brick and mortar, along with ingenious methods for heating the spaces. The hypocaust system, an underfloor heating system, circulated hot air through the walls and floors to maintain a consistent temperature within the baths.
Today, visitors to the Roman Baths of Almuñécar can explore the well-preserved remains of this ancient complex. The site is thoughtfully curated, with informative displays providing historical context and insights into the Roman bathing customs. As you walk through the chambers, you can envision the bustling activity that once took place here, and admire the architectural details that have stood the test of time.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Head in Motril holds great spiritual and cultural significance for the local community. Built on the ruins of a Nasrid castle, it was once the residence of Queen Aixa Alhorra, the mother of Boabdil. According to tradition, the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Head in Motril stems from the legend of Portuguese sailors who, in the early 16th century, stole the image of the Virgin from Corinth. While sailing back to their homeland, they encountered a fierce storm and, fearing for their lives, promised the Virgin to build a hermitage where they would safely disembark. After six days, the ship ran aground in Motril, and true to their promise, the sailors brought the Virgin to the town, erecting a small hermitage on the hill where the ancient ruins of the Muslim fortress once stood.
The temple, constructed from 1631 onwards by Isidro de la Chica, features a Latin cross layout with a single nave, a dome-covered transept, a raised main chapel, and a highly decorated alcove with Baroque plasterwork. Partially destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, it was restored in the mid-20th century, with efforts made to preserve its original structure. The restoration was completed in the 1960s with the altarpiece by the Motrileño sculptor Manuel González Ligero, which synthesizes the values of Motril’s tradition regarding the legend and worship of the Virgin of the Head. The titular image, the Virgin of the Head, the patron saint of Motril, dates back to at least the 15th century and is a magnificent carving in the Mediterranean tradition.
Opening hour: 10am-1pm
Location: Avda. de la Constitución s/n,. Motril
Visitors can explore the vestment room and the tower for a donation of €1.