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Manilva

Manilva’s strategic position, close to the
entrance to the Mediterranean, has resulted in a long history of settlement in
the area going back to the Stone Age. In recent years traces of these early
settlers has been found in caves in the Sierra Utrera, a ridge of limestone
which runs behind the town. There is also a historically important Bronze Age
hill fort which is currently the subject of a program of excavations by experts
from across Europe.

It is during the Roman period, though that
the area first enjoyed prominence, as it was the site of a thriving fish
processing industry, which exported products, including the highly prized Garum paste
(a kind of “Gentleman’s Relish”) which was in much demand back in Rome. Remains
of the factory, a villa and bathhouse can be found today in Castillo de la
Duquesa, one of Manilva’s coastal villages.

It was in the 16th century that the town of
Manilva itself was founded, although a part of the neighboring municipality of
Casares, it gained its independence in 1795 and has grown ever since. For many
years the chief industries were fishing, agriculture and viticulture. Manilva’s
vineyards are famous for their muscatel grapes, used for the production of
raisins and fine wines.

Since the 1970s, when the Marina and golf
course were built, tourism has been added to this list, and in recent years
Manilva has enjoyed the status of one of the Costa del Sol’s fastest developing
municipalities, with almost a trebling of the resident population in the last
10 years.

Another area of development has been the
business sector, with the establishment of an industrial estate just a few
hundred meters from the Manilva exit to the A7 motorway, there are also
literally hundreds of shops and office units available thanks to the construction
boom of recent years.

Local Cultural Festivals and Events

Like all Spanish towns and cities in Andalusia,
Manilva has an annual Feria (festival) or fair, which in Manilva’s
case is held in the second week of August, to coincide with one of Spain’s
public holiday’s, Ascension Day on 15 August.

In fact, Manilva has a very busy calendar of
ferias and fiestas either religious, traditional or modern. Starting off with
the Three Kings cavalcade on 5 January, then the raucous fun of Carnival around
the beginning of Lent; the solemn devotion of the Semana Santa processions
during Easter; the Manilva International Festival, around the end of May,
during which the municipality’s international community takes the opportunity
to show off its varying culture, cuisine and traditions; Saint John’s Eve during
the Summer solstice with its pagan tradition of Bonfires of
Saint John, fireworks and partying till dawn; the fishermen’s celebration of
their patron, the Virgen del Carmen in mid-July, and then rounding
off the summer with the Vendimia, in the first weekend of September, a festival
celebrating Manilva’s grape harvest. Throw into that a good smattering of
Saints’ days and pilgrimages and you’ve got a busy schedule of partying and
celebrations.

Puerto de la Duquesa

Puerto de la Duquesa is one of the Costa del Sol’s marinas that is enjoyed by sailors and tourists alike. Located one hour’s drive from the airport of Malaga and 30 minutes form Gibraltar airport. La Duquesa seems like a thousand miles away from the throng of the holiday resorts. It is relatively quiet during most of the year. The restaurants come alive in July and August.

Duquesa, as it is known
locally, enjoys an advantageous location to the west of Marbella . The essence
in this distinction is that the area retains a vast amount of unspoiled natural
scenery and authentic local character – while sharing the fantastic climate of
the rest of the Costa del Sol. 

The
beautiful port of Duquesa offers full Marina services for boating
enthusiasts as well as a myriad of attractions for those with no aspirations to
take to the water. For those that a do, a number of companies offer Jet Boat,
Wake Board, Boat trips and Scuba Diving. The attractive promenades surrounding
the port offer a variety of restaurants, intimate bars and cafes. 

Casares

In Roman times the spa of la Hedionda,
located on the road to Manilva, was already well known, and this is where
Julius Caesar supposedly was cured of a liver complaint, thanks to the sulfuric
waters that still pour out of the local spring. For this reason, that during
the Roman Empire, Casares was allowed by emperors to mint its own coins.

The 12th century Castle, around which grew
the present town center, was founded by the occupying Moors. In 1361, Peter
I of Castile and the dethroned Muhammed V signed the Pact of
Casares, by which the Moorish King recuperated his throne, leaving Casares as
part of the Nasrid Dynasty. The town surrendered to the Catholic forces
after the fall of Ronda in 1485 and was handed over to Rodrigo Ponce
de León, Duke of Cádiz. Later during the Rebellion of the Moriscos,
Rodrigo’s descendant, the Duke of Arcos, accepted the surrender of the rebel
Moriscos, the Moors who had “converted” to Christianity. Casares had
taken an active part in the Morisco rebellion, put down by Don John of
Austria. The town separated from Manilva in 1795, being granted the title of
Villa. At a later period, Casares was the only town, apart from Cádiz,
that the Napoleonic troops has not been able to take.

More recent history indicates the old village
as the birthplace of the father of Andalusian nationalism, Blas Infante
Perez de Vargas, labor lawyer, politician, and writer, who is considered to be
the largest historic figure in Andalucia. He was born in 1885 and died during
the civil struggle in 1936.

Since 1978 the historical and artistic
heritage of the village has been officially protected.

Celebrations

The main fair (Feria) of Casares takes place
during the first weekend in August. The day of the patron saint, the Virgen del
Rosario, is celebrated in the first week in September, and in the middle of
this month too is the Feria del Cristo. The most important of the Romero takes
place the last Saturday in May.

Estepona

Estepona (Spanish pronunciation: [esteˈpona]) is a town
and municipality in the comarca of the Costa del Sol,
southern Spain. It is located in the province of Málaga, part of
the autonomous community of Andalusia. Its district covers an
area of 137 square kilometers in a fertile valley crossed by small streams and
a mountainous area dominated by the Sierra Bermeja, which reaches an elevation
of 1,449 m at the peak of Los Reales.

Estepona is renowned for its beaches, which
stretch along some 21 km of coastline. It is a popular resort and holiday
destination.

Due to its natural environment, surrounded by
the sea and the mountains, Estepona has a micro-climate with over 325 days of
sunshine per year.

Estepona is a popular year-round holiday destination; it has two EC Blue Flag beaches, a modern sports marina with many tapas bars and restaurants. The white-walled town centre has many shops and picturesque squares. In the early 1990s, the Walt Disney Company chose Estepona as the original site for its Eurodisney project, but Paris, France was later awarded the installation.

The area has been occupied since prehistoric
times; stone-age tools and dolmens have been discovered. Romans occupied
the area, but a seaquake destroyed their town or villa in the 4th century.
Archeologists have unearthed some foundations and ceramics, although the
disaster’s effects (together with massive redevelopment in the 1960s) make
further finds unlikely. References to ‘Salduba’ or ‘Silniana’ as an important
natural port in old documents may refer to this town, or possibly Marbella’s
San Pedro Alcantara district.

The name ‘Estepona’ probably comes from the Moorish Astabbuna or Al-extebunna. In 1342, the Battle of Estepona took place in the Bay of Estepona between the fleet of the Kingdom of Aragon and that of the Marinid Dynasty, with the victorious Aragonese fleet subsequently destroyed near Gibraltar, but Christian forces ultimately winning the Siege of Algeciras. Writing in the late 14th century, mentioned the town as being in a state of decay, living on its reputation for culinary delicacies, with its monuments deteriorated. Henry IV of Castile captured the town from the Moors in 1457. A church was built over what had been the town mosque, and a town grew around it, although it too was subsequently destroyed and all that remains is the old clock tower (and the nearby Simon Fernandez school). San Luis castle was built for coastal defense against Berber pirates.

In 1502, the town (or the 25 Christian
families resettled from northern Spain) received its first charter. However, it
was governed as an administrative district of Marbella until
1729. Philip V of Spain then granted Estepona its own town charter.
As the 20th century began, Estepona had 9000 residents, mostly farmers and
fisherman.

Sotogrande

Sotogrande is the largest privately-owned
residential development in Andalusia. Originally a gated community, it is
located in the municipality of San Roque, Cádiz, Spain and is
composed of a 25 square kilometres stretch from the Mediterranean Sea 25 km
east of Gibraltar, back into the foothills of Sierra Almenara,
providing contrasting views of sea, hills, cork forests and
green fairways, including the Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco.

Some of the richest and most powerful families of Spain and the United Kingdom reside in Sotogrande. Current and past regulars and inhabitants of Sotogrande include Peter Caruana, former Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, current Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Tony Blair, Emilio Botín, Ana Rosa Quintana, Royal Shakespeare Company actor Mike Gwilym, as well as Prince Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, the legitimist pretender to the throne of France.

Sotogrande was established by the couple Joseph and Mercedes McMicking
of the Philippines. The McMickings, having seen the idyllic coasts in 1962,
acquired five neighboring farms with the idea of creating a luxurious
residential development by the Mediterranean. Joseph McMicking
succeeded in creating what has become one of the most luxurious urbanizations
in Europe. In May 2006 it was featured in The Times as having the most expensive homes in Europe. There
are a number of artificial lakes and five golf courses, including the Valderrama
Golf Club, created by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and the San Roque course.

Sotogrande is well known as an architectural showcase on the Costa del Sol, with styles varying from the traditional Andalucian to mid-century modern, all the way through 21st century design and even more unusual designs, including moorish/mudejar style homes and even a Swiss chalet. In 2008 the local government declared three buildings as of cultural interest, protecting them from reform or demolition. These architectural gems were the Biddle House, by Francisco Javier Carvajal, the Zóbel house by José Antonio Coderch, and the Real Club de Golf by Luis Gutierrez Soto.

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