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article imagePhoto essay: Sohail Castle — Moorish history in Fuengirola, Spain Special

By Anne Sewell     Aug 23, 2013 in Travel
Fuengirola - Now used mainly as a venue for concerts, parties and the ubiquitous local beer fest, Sohail Castle was built back during the Moorish history of the coastal town on a site with even older tales to tell.
In the foothills to the south of the seaside town of Fuengirola in Andalucía, Spain lies the site of Sohail Castle, built on the remains of an early Phoenician settlement.
The site was later occupied by the Romans, who named the town "Suel."
On the pedestal of a statue found near the castle an inscription mentions "Suel" as being a a Roman "municipium" and a funeral urn found nearby has an inscription with the word "Suelitana."
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - walking on th...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - walking on the castle walls.
In the mid-10th century, along came Abd-ar-Rahman, who built the castle as it stands today. After several centuries, the name of the settlement changed from Suel to Suhayl, which became the name of the castle and surroundings during the Moorish era.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - several well-...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - several well-preserved cannons.
Reportedly during that period, Suhayl became a fairly large settlement, including farmland and small villages.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - a renovated p...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - a renovated part of the castle with cannons overlooking the modern resort.
Writer and scholar Al-Suhayli ("the man from Suhayl") reportedly lived there from 1114 to 1185, and later became known as one of the seven saints of Marrakesh in Morocco, where he was buried.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - a well-preser...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - a well-preserved cannon.
Apparently the town was set on fire in the early Middle Ages and its inhabitants fled to Mijas, a town nearby. Suhayl became a mound of ruins and its name was changed to the Romanized Font-Jirola, (origins of the modern name of Fuengirola), named after the spring arising at the foot of the castle.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - view overlook...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - view overlooking the beach and the Beatriz Palace Hotel & Spa.
When only the fortress remained, the area fell into the hands of the Christian Monarchs in 1485, as part the final phase of the Reconquista (reconquest).
An attempt to repopulate the site with 30 people failed, and in 1511 it was registered as uninhabited, apart from the fortress and a watchtower.
More modern times:
In later years, development started again in the area. The Moorish castle of Suhayl, or Suhail, remained an abandoned ruin until renovations began in 1995.
The interior of the castle was completely renovated in 2000 and the structure began to host festivals and concerts during the summer period. More landscaping was performed in 2002.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.
Now known more popularly as Sohail Castle, the site is an interesting visit, with spectacular views across the coastline and town of Fuengirola.
When walking south on the beach promenade from the center of town, you eventually reach the Fuengirola River (Rio de Fuengirola) spanned by an impressive cable bridge and, below, the "Parque Fluvial" or water park with bicycle and pedal boat hire. Following the path across the bridge takes you to a pathway up to the castle.
Castle Sohail  Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - crossing the ...
Castle Sohail, Moorish fortress in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain - crossing the Fuengirola River to the castle. A note of interest - the green wall on the right was built so that visitors to the castle could not overlook a private residence below.
Other views of Fuengirola, Spain:
Photo Essay: Abstracts and reflections of a working fishing port
Photo Essay: Around and about in Fuengirola, Spain
Photo Essay: A gull family in Fuengirola, from nest to wing
Photo essay: A little Harley-Davidson history in Fuengirola
Photo essay: Multi-cultural Fuengirola in southern Spain
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