This is one of best known landmarks in the town. It stands near the foot of Calle San Miguel, just up from the beach. It was built in the early 14th century as a defensive lookout, and is 12 metres high, with two floors. Part of its purpose was to protect the many mills in the area at that time, so it acquired the name, Torre de los Molinos, and from that came the town’s name, naturally. Later the tower was renamed in honour of Don Rodrigo de Pimentel, Conde de Benavente. He helped the Catholic Kings in their conquest of Malaga and Granada by giving them 2,000 horses and 4,999 soldiers. The tower was constructed with adobe and earth and is not in the best of conditions; nevertheless it can be climbed, offering panoramic views of the coastline from the top. I only discovered this after our return home however, so will have to remember to do that on another visit to Torremolinos.
The city center in Torremolinos is lovely, even though some say it is too small and that it lacks big shopping malls. For me it is just the right size and has got a lot of charm, one can always go to Malaga for the shopping malls or visit the big shopping-center in La Canada in Marbella for that.
The main shopping-street is Calle San Miguel which is in the very city center, surrounded by squares with beautiful fountains and statues. There are so many interesting streets and alleys off Calle San Miguel with Chinese shops, boutiques and restaurants. There is also a Mercadona supermarket right there off Calle San Miguel on Plaza Costa del Sol (see a photo under my tip on shopping). There are other supermarkets further up in Torremolinos, including a big Super Sol. Further up there is also a small "China Town" with a Chinese supermarket and smaller Chinese food-stores. I go there regularily and especially like Super Oriental Wen in Calle Rio Alba, which has got good prices on Oriental food.
The Bus Terminal is in Calla Hoya, we had troubles finding it when first visiting Torremolinos. From there you can catch a bus to f.ex. Malaga. To get to the Terminal walk to the end of Calle San Miguel, turn right and pass Plaza Costa del Sol. Calla Hoya is joined to Plaza Costa del Sol, walk for a couple of minutes and there is the Terminal and residential properties and blocks-of-flats with a lot of immigrants.
There is a gay-area in the city center by La Nogalera with drag-shows and discos, and the gay scene in Torremolinos is lively. In Calla Casablanca there is a good gay- and straight-scene and a disco called Eugenio's, I have been there a couple of times and it is verly lively for all generations (above 20 i.e.). Across the street from Eugenio's is Gussi Bar, the Icelandic bar.
So all in all the center is very lovely and diverse.
Plaza de la Unión Europea is one of the beautiful squares off Calle San Miguel. There is an outstanding sculpture on the square called "The Monument to Europe". It is of the Greek God Zeus taking on the form of a white majestic bull to approach the beautiful princess EUROPA.
When Zeus met Europa, he fell hopelessly in love with her. Fearing rejection he turned himself into a white bull. Europa, not fearing the bull, sat on his back. The bull took her down to the sea and crossed over to Crete with Europa on his back. There Zeus revealed his secret and they consummated their love.
The Monument to Europe is made out of 16.000 kilos of white marble and is truly a majestic sculpture.
On the square there are a lot of benches made out of light-blue tiles and with the flags of different countries in the EU engraved (by tiles) into the benches. Quite lovely.
And in the centre of the square there is a roundabout with the flags of all the member states of the EU, plus the flag of the EU itself. This is truly a EU square and ment to be a tribute to all of the tourists from Europe visiting Torremolinos (plus the ones who have retired there).
Not far from the Bajondillo Apartments is EXOTIC TOUR Travel Agency and Exchange.
Their tour prices are very reasonable and they always give a fair exchange rate on your currency (American - Canadian - British pounds - etc.)
I have exchanged money here many times and I believe it's even a better rate than using the ATM Machines. There is no commission charges - the rate you see is the rate you receive.
An example of tours they offer and (2010) rates are as follows:
Cordoba - Thursdays - Tour - 41,50 Euros - with lunch - 53,50 Euros
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Update (2013 rates)
Tour - 39,50 Euros - with lunch - 54,50 Euros
Gibraltar - 12.50 Euros - Express 14.25 Euros
7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Update (2013 rates)
11,95 Euros - Express 13,95 Euros
Granada - Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday - 54,95 Euros - with lunch - 66,95 Euros
7:40 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Includes admission to Alhambra
Update: (2013 rates)
54,95 Euros - with lunch 68,95 Euros
Nerja/Frigiliana - Monday and Thursday - 20,50 Euros - With Caves 26,50 Euros
9:20 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Update: (2013 rates)
19,00 Euros - with caves 25,50 Euros
Ronda - Tuesday - Thursday - Saturday - 30,50 Euros - with Lunch 42,50 Euros
7:35 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Update: (2013 rates)
28,50 Euros - with lunch 43,95 Euros
Sevilla - Wednesday and Friday - 41,50 Euros - with lunch 53,50 Euros
7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Update: (2013 rates)
39,50 Euros - with lunch 54,50 Euros
Lunch is well worth the extra price as it usually includes a drink, dessert and gratuities
Prices are as of February 2010.
Updated February, 2013 - as you can see most prices are actually less than two years ago.
New: Marbella and Puerto Banus - Thursdays
8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Half Days - 18,00 Euros
Jerez and Cadiz - Fridays
7:10 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
includes Horse Show & Boat Trip - 45,00 Euros
As we all know Internet at the hotels is very expensive, not that I am saying I came to Torremolinos to be on-line all the time, but one needs to be in contact with the "outside world" from time to time while on holiday. I found this Internet /phone service in the city center, right across the street from the Bus terminal. It is reasonably priced, 1 Euro for 1 hour, that is like 75% cheaper than at the hotel, so I was happy. If you are staying for a longer period in Torremolinos you can buy 5 hours for 4 euros, 10 hours for 8,5 euros and 15 hours for 12 euros. That is what I did when living in Torremolinos for 6 months. And the Internet connection was quick, there was nothing to complain about, so this is where I will be on rainy days on future trips to Torremolinos ;) Now, having said that, then it is said that days of sunshine are 320 in Torremolinos, so the chances of me being there on rainy days are not that great.
In the center of Torremolinos is the lovely Picasso square "Plaza Pablo Ruiz Picasso" with a statue of Picasso. The famous artist Picasso was born in Malaga, just 12 km away from Torremolinos, so this big square is a good homage to Picasso. There is also the Caféteria Picasso on the square and the church "Madre del Buen Consejo".
Right above the square is what I call China town, with the Chinese food stores.
One of our absolutely best things to do in Torremolinos was to walk along the PROMENADE (or Paseo as it is known in Spanish). If you are taking a walk along the promenade, it is worth exploring the streets between it and the main Benalmadena to Torrremolinos road as these are full of little bars, restaurants and shops.
Walking is absolutely the best way to get around Torremolinos. Do be careful though when crossing the street. There are many pedestrian crosswalks. Do use them with care. Drivers are obligated to stop for you, but that doesn't mean they always will. I always use extreme caution when crossing them and I make sure they are slowing down before I continue.
On New Year's Day, we each had a fresh orange for breakfast and were packed up and on the road before 10 AM. The weather forecasts for the coast did not look good (and, by this second visit to Torremolinos, we had been on the coast for a few days anyway), so we decided that Torremolinos would make a perfect departure point for a scenic drive into the inland mountain ranges.
There was virtually no traffic on New Year's Day as we cruised along on the coastal highway to Vélez-Málaga, 55-km to the east. It was there that we branched off to the north on highway A-356/402 as we headed inland to explore the small town of Alhama de Granada - reputed to have views almost as good as those at Ronda! With the excellent highways of Spain, it is possible to make it a round-trip day drive if you want a change of scenery like we did. This is the view we had as we began to leave the flat plain of the river that flows beside Vélez-Málaga.
Something for the whole family to enjoy is a day spent at TIVOLI WORLD & Attraction Park ( Parque de Atracciones ) the Costa del Sol's oldest theme park.
Attractions include Tivoli Dragon - Jurasico - Aerobaby - Twister - Marine Bay - Tivoli Jungla - Castillo Terror - Techno Jump - Tivoli Agua - Piratas.
Enjoy the thrill of the many rides taking advantage of the "Supertivolino" an offer that enables unlimited use of the more than 35 rides and attractions. On sale inside the Park.
Wide range of Theme restaurants.
Open on Sundays 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. until the end of March ( winter hours ).
5 Euros. Special discounts for groups.
We left the A-356 highway at the reservoir to begin our climb up over the mountain range in front of us on the A-402/A-335. This very scenic and not busy highway (at 11 AM on New Year's Day!) initially made its way along a valley wall high above one of the rivers feeding into the reservoir. Signs of human habitation were thin on the ground with quaint old barns and buildings popping up every now and again amid the olive tree groves covering the hillsides.
It was not long before we could see a massive gash in the mountain wall ahead of us (2nd photo) through which the highway would allow us to reach the tiny hamlet of Ventas de Zaffarayus, located on a broad plain on the other side. This was a really scenic part of our drive so we took the time to look back on our zig-zag route (3rd photo) leading up to the pass.
We had only gone a short distance into the river valley before we came to the Viñuela reservoir - the scene was so beautiful that we simply had to stop and actually get out of our car! The Viñuela reservoir became operational in 1989 as a means to control the local water flows so they could be used in a controlled fashion for both home water supply and agriculture. This man-made lake also serves as a means of recreation for the nearby towns and villages. Motorized craft are not allowed to use it and various picnic and recreation sites have been built along its shores. Before the dam was built, it was necessary to undertake excavations at about 18 different sites where the remnants of Roman dwellings were situated - before they were submerged for good.
However, as you can see from this view, rainfall shortages in this part of Spain had left the reservoir severely depleted, with the water level hovering around 20% of its design capacity. As we looked up along the reservoir (2nd photo) we could see blue skies starting to appear - our 'inland' decision was starting to look good!
This view was taken as we were almost at the pass leading to Ventas de Zaffarayus, just through the gap. What caught my eye were the old-style concrete blocks used for guardrails along this stretch of highway. They reminded me of rectangular stone ones we had seen in northern Portugal five years earlier on a drive near the Spanish border - except several of those ones had been knocked over by collisions!
If you look more closely at the photo, you can barely make out a narrow track running across both sides of the gorge. The 2nd photo shows a closer look at the right side of the gorge as we drove through - the path appears to be an old track of some sort but I don't really know what it was used for. With this area having been settled since before Roman times, it is no surprise that relics of human activity like these still survive on these mountain slopes, at a height of about 2800-ft above sea level at this location.
When we finally did pull into Ventas de Zaffarayus, there was not much going on in the small community, so we kept on driving. However, we were then in a broad valley with rolling hills of olive groves as we continued onward.
We were enjoying our drive and taking our time, actually stopping at a secluded roadside olive grove to have a 'picnic' in our car (see 'Restaurant' tips) before continuing to Alhama de Granada. It was past noon when we finally saw our main target on this little drive, looking very interesting with its typical white buildings crowded together in beautiful countryside.
The town has a long history, so long that even the Romans had built thermal baths in the deep river gorge forming a natural boundary along one side of the city. Following Spain's fall to the Moors in the early 700s, the new rulers were very impressed with the baths and built a few of their own, including improvements to the Roman baths. In addition, a typical Moorish castle was built to defend this strategic location between coastal Malaga and their capital city of Granada, only about 50-km further inland. Alhama de Granada finally fell to Christian forces in 1482 as they continued their successful drive south to reconquer the entire Iberian Peninsula. Both photos give a glimpse of the huge, light brown fortified tower of Iglesia de la Encarnacion, built by the Spanish on the site of the Grand Mosque and still providing a visual landmark for the town.
We had been suitably impressed by the world-famous gorge at Ronda eight days earlier, so were anxious to see if the one located at Alhama de Granada was as spectacular as it was reported to be!
It was by coincidence that we visited Ronda on December 24, with Christmas Eve in the offing and made it to Alhama de Granada on New Year's Day. Even though it was about 1 PM when we drove into AdG there was virtually no traffic at all (unlike Ronda) and we had no problem negotiating the streets to find a large free parking area almost beside the gorge.
We made the short walk to a viewing area beside the gorge cut by the Alhama river but, unfortunately, the weak winter sun was beaming directly down the gorge at us, making it difficult to get decent photos of the quite impressive spectacle. The gorge makes a right-angle turn where we were standing (2nd photo), so the view in the new direction was not so affected by the sun (3rd photo). We really enjoyed our time just taking in the entire scene - it was much more relaxed than at Ronda. Although both gorges are spectacular, the one at Ronda probably comes out on top because it's gorge has a very impressive bridge across it. In addition, the gorge actually ends at the bridge, providing a beautifully wide view out over a large valley with distant mountains.
Still, Alhama de Granada ranks right up there and is well worth a detour if you ever get the chance.
Maybe because of the angle of the sun, the most interesting thing for me in the Gorge were some ruins of old flour mills built in the early 1900s. Off to the left you can see where the ledge they were built on drops off into the even deeper depths of the river canyon. Back in those old days, the town was much more prosperous and had twice the population it presently has - possibly because it was much more difficult to get away to the coast on those hot summer days?
The 2nd photo shows a group of people hiking toward the ruins (at top centre of the photo). They could be part of a group exploring the gorge itself, which can be walked from one end to the other alongside the Alhama River. If you want to return to civilization at the top of the gorge you have a choice of either steep slopes or steps (some of which are carved into the rock face) at several locations in the gorge.
Finally, it was time to get moving to find our night's accommodations, so I said good-bye to an olive tree growing beside the viewing area (3rd photo).
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