In the 3rd millennium BC prehistoric communities settled permanently in the town of Salobreña. We know little about the economy of these villages but we assume it would be based primarily on farming and, to a lesser extent, on the exploitation of marine resources. It’s also possible they exploited the copper veins present in the nearby mountines. Sites from this era of Salobreña; in the vicinity of the current Paseo de las Flores, in Piedra Blanca (now called Monte de los Almendros) and in the north behind the present industrial area of Salobreña, a cemetery was located on the Monte Hacho Hill.
The Phoenicians were a people mainly devoted to trade. Heading out from ancient Phoenicia (present day Lebanon), they often sought sites to settle that were near the coast, as the sea was always their main commercial thoroughfare. They primarily occupied peninsulas and islands near a river bed that would allow them easy access inland, and protection for their vessels. From the first millennium BC their early influence on the Andalusian coast can be found, but it was not until the 8th century BC when they established in Salobreña, which was then called Selambina. They Founded a small colony alongside this indigenous population and forged close trade and cultural links with them.
Selambina (Salobreña) joined the Roman Empire in 206 BC It is mentioned in the 1st century B.C and the 1st century AD by notable academics such as Pliny the Elder, local geographer Pomponio Mela, and the Greek Ptolemy. The rock (known locally as El Peñon) that now sits on the edge of the beach, was, back then, an island. This was also used throughout the Roman period: as a marine sanctuary, for fishing, and as a cemetery. We know this due to numerous remains that have been found dating from the 2nd – 1st centuries BC and the 4th – 5th centuries AD. The marine sanctuary had a Punic population and, under Roman rule, a temple was built to the goddess Tanit.
The first written references by Arab writers regarding Salobreña start to appear in the 10th century. These come from the hand of Al-Razi, who refers to it as the castle of Cora Elvira, and the Cordoban chronicler Ibn Hayyan – who tells us that the rebel leader Muqtabis Umar ben Hafsun was in Salobreña during his struggles with Cordoba in 907, and in 918, Abd Al-Rahman III took Salobreña and left with it a military detachment. During the 10th century the settlement underwent a period of struggle that ultimately led to the imposition of an Islamic state in Al-Andalus.
The end of the Muslim occupation of Salobreña came in 1489 when, following the fall of Baza and Almería, the entire coastline of Granada was taken from Muhammad XII (aka El Zagal), and came under the rule of the Castilian Christian conquerors. The fall of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada did nothing to diminish the extent of sugarcane cultivation and, in the sixteenth century, the industry was still very important to the local area. What we do know is that the population was centred around the former Town Hall Square and the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, both in the old quarter of Salobreña. The districts of Loma, Brocal, and the Albayzín preserve some of the urban structures of the middle ages.
In the second half of the nineteenth century when the town lost its military character and experienced a boom in the sugar cane industry, a widening in the town’s perimeter took place which necessitated the demolition of the remains of the town ‘s wall. In the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century, the town implemented a programme of urban expansion. But it was not until the seventies and eighties when the old quarter of the town expanded toward the fertile plain land adjacent to the rock.
The end of the Muslim occupation of Salobreña came in 1489 when, following the fall ofBaza and Almería, the entire coastline of Granada was taken from Muhammad XII (aka El Zagal), and came under the rule of the Castilian Christian conquerors.
The Second Punic War pitted the two main western Mediterranean powers against each other; Rome and Carthage. The war is usually dated from 218 BC, (the date of the declaration of war in Rome after the destruction of Sagunto), until 202 BC when Hannibal and Scipio agreed to the terms of surrender of Carthage.
After the decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, there was a definite change in the way settlements were structured, with less and less people living an urban life. In the case of Salobreña, this urban life continued but it certainly changed. Most Roman settlements were abandoned altogether.
The Albayzín is the medieval quarter located next to the fortress, it was the first district to be built and occupied in the old town, and it was here that the main population dwelt in the middle ages.
This passageway or tunnel vault once connected the Albayzín district to the former Medina– the centre of all commercial activity.
Almost eight centuries of Muslim presence in Salobreña has left its mark. The influence can be seen in many of the town’s urban areas, but its most significant landmark is the Arab Castle.
If you walk the length of Calle Antequera you’ll see the castle ramparts and towers on your right, and the entrance to Paseo de las Flores just underneath. It’s in a beautiful position, surrounded by gardens that house a diverse range of plants, flowers and palms.
It was once a separated island of the Selambina Peninsula. It was a sanctuary during the Punic Wars (II and I a.C.). Figurines, coins and other archaeological remains from Roman times have been found there. Nowadays, it is a prominent spot surrounded by the sea. You could admire the coastline and its environment.
Just look around you – from here you can take in the castle, the valley, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It really is one of the most peaceful and stunning viewpoints in the entire area.
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