Before going over what to see in Salobreña, it is worth knowing a little about its history. For some 6,000 years the place has been inhabited. So there are material remains from the Neolithic period in the Cueva del Capitan. At that time the Peñón of Salobreña was an island and the landscape, today a fertile plain, was maritime. With time the environment changed thanks to the contribution of sediments from the river. Thanks to them the island stopped being an island and the promontory became a hill.
Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans
Around the 8th century BC, the Phoenicians arrived and created several commercial factories. Around the 6th century BC it fell into the hands of the Carthaginians, who became part of the Punic League of the Strait. Within the framework of the Punic Wars, Rome took the territory of the promontory. During the High Empire (1st-3rd century) the place was organized by villages. At the end of the Latin rule the town was already known as Segalvina.
With the beginning of the Arab invasion it immediately became a rural town. In 880, during a period of internal crisis in the emirate of Córdoba, a Muladí leader created a guerrilla group composed of Mozarabs and other discontented sectors of the population. For three decades, this revolt dominated a wide territory in the current provinces of Granada, Malaga and Cordoba. The fortress of Salobreña would be one of its bastions until 912, when it was surrendered by the army of Abderramán III.
At the end of the 14th century, under Nazarite rule, it rose as an important city on which several nearby places depended. Inside the citadel there was a royal palace. Up to five kings of Granada were imprisoned there, victims of the conspiracies of their Court. On the other hand, the area was notably enriched by the production of sugar, adding a lot of population.
Later, during the last Nasrid civil war, El Zagal took control of Salobreña. It would remain for seven years, until it was handed over to the Catholic Monarchs in December 1489. The following year an attempt was made by Boabdil to take the place. The move had the support of the Moors, who would be expelled from the fortress after the monarch of Granada was defeated. To guarantee security, Ferdinand the Catholic appointed the famous knight Francisco Ramirez of Madrid, El Artillero, as the warden of Salobreña.
View of the Peñón of Salobreña and its beach in 1963.
In 1494 a strong earthquake occurred which caused serious collapses in the Alcazaba. On the other hand, from 1497 Castilian settlers resumed the cultivation of sugar, abandoned after the departure of the Muslims. The few Mohammedans who remained participated in 1568 in the Insurrection of the Alpujarras. For this reason they were expelled from the country.
During the 16th century the sugar industry was booming. However, two centuries later it was about to be replaced by cotton. Due to its ineffectiveness against artillery, in the middle of the 18th century the Salobreña Castle and the walls were no longer maintained.
War of Independence
During the War of Independence the town was an important centre of resistance. In the autumn of 1810 the Salobreña Castle was defended by a legion of volunteers. However, these surrendered to General Sebastiani’s Frenchmen in exchange for the respect of their lives. Breaking their word, the sixty prisoners were hanged by the Napoleonists. This led to a savage persecution of the French. The reactionary idea became so widespread that, in 1814, the Mayor of the Villa publicly burned a copy of the 1812 Constitution.
In the 19th century, sugar cane cultivation was once again recovered. For this purpose, techniques brought from Cuba were used. Today it is an important tourist center, which allows the enjoyment of both the sea and the nearby Sierra Nevada.