The municipality of Benalmádena is part of Costa del Sol Occidental, it is located south of the province of Málaga, about 22 km southwest of Málaga city and within its metropolitan area.
The municipal term of Benalmádena with a surface of a little more than 27 km², occupies a coastal strip that extends from the summits of Sierra de Mijas to Alboran Sea, with a mountainous orography crossed by streams and torrents that in some points is in the form of cliffs.
Much of the municipality of Benalmádena is urbanized and, with the exception of the highest areas of the mountain range, the natural spaces are small.
Benalmádena is one of the most populous municipalities in the metropolitan area and in the province of Málaga in general. Its population is concentrated in three main territories, Benalmádena Pueblo, which keeps the typical aesthetics of the Andalusian white villages marked by its Muslim past and which houses the central dependencies of the Town Hall, Arroyo de la Miel, the most populated and intermediate between the town and the coast, and Benalmádena Costa, which concentrates the bulk of hotels and is structured along the old Cádiz highway, today converted into Antonio Machado Avenue and Sol Avenue, which runs parallel to the beaches. In Benalmádena Costa you will find the Benalmádena Marina and the promenade that crosses the town. The high urban and demographic growth tends to unify the three territories.
The A-7 motorway passes through the municipality of Benalmádena, which crosses it from east to west and connects it with Málaga city.
Benalmádena is one of the main tourist destinations on the Costa del Sol, it stands out for its leisure establishments, which include an amusement park, two aquariums, a casino, a cable car, one of the largest marinas in Andalusia and three golf courses.
Its privileged climate and its situation on the southern European coast are two important factors for the tourism industry to be the main economic sector in Benalmádena.
The first inhabitants of Benalmádena that have data, are located in the Upper Paleolithic, approximately 18,000 years ago, as shown by paintings located in the Bull Cave, located in Calamorro Hill, north of the municipality of Benalmádena.
Other representative sites of Benalmádena, corresponding to the Neolithic, are found in the Botijos Cave, the Zorrera Cave and the Sahara Cave. On the left bank of Arroyo de la Miel there is another site corresponding to a town known as Era Hill, from the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., of tarthetic influence and that lasted until the Roman domination.
After the Roman conquest, a series of political, social and economic transformations took place that affected Benalmádena's ways of life, salting factories on the coast and industries that continued until the 5th century proliferated.
Between the 6th and 7th centuries, the coastal strip between Cádiz and Cartagena became part of the Byzantine empire, of which Málaga city was the most important nucleus of the Málaga coast. The Byzantines were expelled by the Visigoths at the beginning of the 7th century, causing a general abandonment of the coastal settlements in favor of the interior enclaves; fact that was amply verified in Benalmádena with the depopulation and abandonment of the coastal enclaves in late-ancient times.
Benalmádena experienced a remarkable development during the period of Muslim domination, attracted by the abundance of iron in its lands through the exploitation of mines and for agricultural exploitation in the area of Stream Casablanca. It also gained importance as a strategic place and a watchdog and guardian of the coast in the passage between Málaga and Mijas.
It is important to note that at the end of the 12th century, Ibn al-Baitar, one of the most important botanists and pharmacologists of the Middle Ages, was born in Benalmádena.
After the conquest by the Christian troops, the development in Benalmádena was paralyzed, due to the destruction produced by the troops themselves and which had to be mitigated with populations of Christian families. The intensity of the activity that the corsairs generated through incursions into the area also had a lot to do with it, creating great instability due to the insecurity of the neighbors themselves, which led to emigration to safer places and continued during the 16th century. All this together with various natural disasters such as epidemics, droughts, calamities, such as a tidal wave and an earthquake, and the closure of the Málaga port to English ships, paralyzed the sale of export agricultural products.
Two activities, the paper industry and the cultivation of the vineyard reactivated the economy of Benalmádena during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first with the installation of hydraulic traction mills for papermaking necessary for the Playing Card Royal Factory, installed in Macharaviaya and destined for the American market. The second with the considerable increase in the area destined for vine cultivation. However, the destruction of the vines by the phylloxera plague in the last quarter of the 19th century, caused unemployment and hunger, and together with this, epidemics of malaria, typhus and cholera were primed with Benalmádena, causing deaths and emigrations produced a decrease in the population, leaving it exhausted until 1950.
The great demographic and economic boom of the municipality of Benalmádena occurred from the 1950s and 1960s with the birth and development of tourism on Costa del Sol.
Strolling through the streets of Benalmádena will take you to know its heritage wealth and to appreciate a series of buildings of interest for their architectural uniqueness or for the contents they keep inside.
The historic centre of Benalmádena, with its old structure of a typical Andalusian village with its white houses and narrow streets, you will have the opportunity to transport yourself to another time.
Depending on the territory in which you are, you will have the opportunity to see a some elements or others. Continuing in Benalmádena Pueblo, you will see the Church of St. Dominic, one of the three in the municipality, each one in a different population area. This church is the oldest in Benalmádena, although its last remodeling was in 1998. Next to it there is a viewpoint with exceptional views.
Another of the places that you can see in this part of Benalmádena is the Colomares Castle, a monument in honor of Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America, built by Dr. Esteban Martín y Martín between 1987 and 1994. In it you can see various architectural styles and different materials, where its interior stands out for its stained glass. It offers to groups, previously arranged, personalized and guided talks around the monumental site, in different languages and at no additional cost, in addition to other activities.
In Spain Square in Benalmádena Pueblo, you will see the Benalmádena Girl. Located in the centre of a fountain, it is a bronze sculpture made by Jaime Pimentel.
A little further from Benalmádena Pueblo than the rest of the elements seen, is the Enlightenment Stupa, inaugurated in 2003. It is a project of the great Buddhist teacher Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche that represents peace, prosperity and harmony, as well as a place of meditation. Its golden dome and its location on the mountain stand out, making it visible from almost the entire Benalmádena coast.
From the population area of Arroyo de la Miel it is necessary to emphasize the Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in the 20th century. It stands out for its windows on the left side and its floor plan with a single nave.
On the other hand, there is La Tribuna building, from the 18th century, when some mills and houses were built to house the workers of the paper mills. The square's shape and a stone arch that crown its entrance are preserved from this time. After a deep reform it is possible to appreciate a building from the old factory known as La Tribuna, as well as the sculpture in homage to Félix Solesio, its promoter.
From the last nucleus of population in the municipality of Benalmádena, Benalmádena Costa, you will be able to appreciate the Church of the Virgin of Carmel, also from the 20th century. After the Málaga Cathedral, it is the Catholic temple of the Málaga province.
Built as a defensive system for the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada and later restored during the Christian repopulation, you will see the Watchtowers. There are three watchtowers that are located along the coast in the municipality of Benalmádena, these are the Quebrada Tower, the Bermeja Tower and the Muelle Tower. The first two together with the construction of the third, served to protect the coast against incursions by Berber pirates.
Located on Antonio Machado Avenue, in Benalmádena Costa, and built in 1927, during the Second Spanish Republic, you will find one of the benchmarks of the municipality of Benalmádena, El Bil-Bil Castle. The building is in Arab style, decorated with tiles and bas-reliefs of Nasrid tradition. Surrounded by beautiful gardens with several sources of Muslim inspiration which gives it a special beauty. It is the venue for exhibitions, concerts, conferences, civil weddings, etc.
Finally, near the fairground and the Pigeon Park, the Hindu temple is located, easily distinguishable by its peculiar architecture. There is also a small place set up as a mosque for the use of members of the Islamic community, as well as a Muslim cemetery. Other Christian denominations such as evangelical churches or Jehovah's Witnesses also have meeting places in Benalmádena.
Once you know the cultural heritage of the municipality of Benalmádena, which is located at street level, it is time to learn about the culture hidden in its museums, cultural centers and event venues.
In Benalmádena Pueblo, you can visit the Municipal Archaeological and Pre-Columbian Art Museum. This museum houses one of the most important collections of Pre-Columbian America existing in Spain with remains from Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia and Ecuador. You can also visit the archaeological remains found in the municipality of Benalmádena from its first settlers to the present day. It includes those found in the Botijo Cave, Zorrera Cave and Bull Cave. This last cave, Bull Cave, is the most important Prehistory site in the municipality of Benalmádena since it was discovered in 1969. It was occupied and used as a sanctuary about 18,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic. In it you can find cave paintings highlighting the one that represents a headless bovine. It is located on Calamorro Hill. In Benalmádena there are other more recent caves, the Neolithic period, such as the mentioned Botijos Cave and Zorrera Cave, as well as the Sahara Cave.
In Benalmádena Costa you can visit the Benalmádena Exhibition Center, dedicated to cultural exhibitions of all high-level artistic disciplines, which has allowed Benalmádena to enter national and international painting and sculpture circuits. The building consists of 850 m2 built and 600 m2 of exhibition spaces distributed over four floors, the last of which can be used as a classroom and also has an office for catering services. In it, six to eight annual exhibitions are held, which include painting, sculpture, archeology, historical heritage, architecture and photography.
In the remaining population area, Arroyo de la Miel, you will be able to see what the Pablo Ruiz Picasso House of Culture hides at all times. It is a place of numerous acts such as exhibitions, theater competitions, carnival and cinema. Every thursday international films are shown within the activities of the Cineclub Más Madera. Its greatest architectural attraction is its Andalusian-style courtyard.
Also in Arroyo de la Miel, next to Pigeon Park, you will find the last two representations within the cultural heritage of Benalmádena. On the one hand, there is the Arroyo de la Miel Library, considered one of the most modern and best technically equipped in Spain, with extensive facilities such as a general library, children's and youth library, library for foreigners, newspaper library, media library, meeting rooms and Internet. On the other hand, you will find the Benalmádena Municipal Auditorium, a meeting place for cultural activities that are organized in the town, especially in the summer season, where events of all genres are offered every year.
After having learned about the general culture and Benalmádena, it is time for you to relax enjoying some of the best places that the municipality provides for it. The parks and green areas in Benalmádena give you the opportunity to escape from the entire urban environment, as well as to appreciate places with great beauty.
From the last places described, the one that will be the most comfortable to visit due to its proximity is the Pigeon Park, located on Federico García Lorca Avenue in Arroyo de la Miel. With an extension of 200,000 m² of lakes, grass and pines, it has a cactus and succulent garden, with more than 2,000 specimens of 450 different species. In this park you can see various species of animals in the wild such as ducks, swans, peacocks, chickens and rabbits. Apart from the Benalmádena Municipal Auditorium and the Arroyo de la Miel Library, in its vicinity is the fairground and Selwo Marina dolphinarium and penguinarium. In the park is the Spanish flag on the highest mast in the region, next to the plaque in honor of the 30th Spanish Constitution Anniversary.
Also within the part of the municipality that belongs to Arroyo de la Miel are the Mare Nostrum Lakes, located in the urban expansion area. With wide green areas, artificial lakes, with waterfalls and small trails that give this area a special charm for walks. The water used in artificial lakes is recycled.
In Benalmádena Pueblo, you will find the Muro Gardens, where the fortress was. One of the most remarkable qualities of the environment are the views of the coast that can be seen from its viewpoint. The design is attributed to the Canarian artist César Manrique. Among its gardens stands the Church of St. Dominic, the oldest in the municipality.
Between Benalmádena Pueblo and the Torremuelle urbanization you will come across the Casablanca Rustic Park. A green area with an area of about 125,000 m2 that has been adapted as a recreation area and an initiation to nature, with several trails, camping tables, etc.
Meanwhile, in the coastal area, you can stroll along the promenade, which runs between El Bil-Bil Castle and the marina. It is one of the most beautiful promenades in the Mediterranean zone. It has throughout its journey with numerous mosaics made by various artists in different materials such as ceramics, metal, wood and natural stone.
From the promenade you can access the different Benalmádena beaches. These are made up of almost 20 kilometers of sandy, gravel and palm grove coastline, making a total of 17 beaches. These beaches house beach bars, restaurants and other tourist establishments. From west to east, the most important beaches in Benalmádena are:
Along with this last beach, in its western part is the Benalmádena Marina, which is more commonly known as Puerto Marina. This is one of the most amazing marina and residential complexes in the world, with model facilities and original architecture. It has been awarded twice as the Best Marine in the World and has held the European Blue Flag since 1987, uninterruptedly, for the quality of its services and its waters. It has more than 1,100 berthing points and offers a wide calendar of activities and events throughout the year, including the Costa del Sol Nautical Week, a sailing competition that consists of several regattas and which is scored for both the Andalusian Championship and for the Spanish Cruise Championship.
In addition to sailing competition and sport that can be played on the beaches, in Benalmádena there is the first permanent indoor natural ice rink in Andalusia, within the facilities of the Benalmádena Ice Club and which has an indoor pool. Added to this are two municipal sport centres located in Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmádena Pueblo, which have outdoor athletics, football, tennis, mini-basket and swimming pools, as well as covered pavilions. There is also a hockey field court, home of the Benalmádena Hockey Club, three golf courses, a racket club, a skate park, a football stadium, among other facilities.
In the event that you prefer a sport style more related to nature, Benalmádena provides you with a natural environment through which to take hiking routes. For this you can start with the Cemetery Highway - Calamorro Summit Trail. It begins at the underpass of the A-7 motorway, north of Arroyo de la Miel, along the cemetery road. The panoramic views are impressive, especially at the Calamorro Summit. For its completion there are two possibilities, towards the hermitage, on the eastern slope of Calamorro Hill, at 550 meters of altitude, or towards the Calamorro Summit, at 772 meters of altitude. The route is approximately 5 km to the Calamorro Summit, and 2.3 km to the hermitage from the crossroads.
Another route within the municipality of Benalmádena is the Road Access Old Landfill - Old Refuge Trail. It begins on the access road to the old landfill, in front of the gas station, on the A-368 road that connects Benalmádena Pueblo with Arroyo de la Miel, and ends in Old Refuge, located at an altitude of 625 meters. The trail has a route of approximately 3 km and the panoramic views you will get are impressive.
There are two other routes that pass through the municipality of Benalmádena and that correspond to two stages of the Great Path of Málaga, which unites municipalities in the province of Málaga through paths located in nature.
Apart from everything mentioned, Benalmádena has leisure parks which represent a large part of the most important tourist attractions in the municipality. These parks and leisure facilities are intended for different purposes, some related to fun and adrenaline, while others related to knowledge and nature.
One of the most representative attractions of Benalmádena is the Tívoli World amusement park. Located in the town of Arroyo de la Miel, it is a leisure park with mechanical attractions, shows such as concerts, humor or dance, restaurants, exhibitions and theme squares.
Next to a five-star hotel of the same name you will find Torrequebrada Casino. This, apart from being a casino and hotel, also offers party rooms and shows and is located in front of the beach and near the Torrequebrada golf course.
Moving on to the most natural part of these centres, in Benalmádena you will find two that are related to marine life. One is the SEA LIFE Benalmádena aquarium, located in the Benalmádena Marina, it is a conservationist and protectionist shark centre and where you can observe starfish, octopus, piranhas, etc. The other is the Selwo Marina dolphinarium and penguin, located in the Arroyo de la Miel fairground, next to Pigeon Park. It is a marine fauna park that welcomes Patagonian sea lions, and dolphins belonging to the Bottlenose Dolphin, in a large saltwater pool where curious shows are performed, and an ice island that hosts the most complete and important collection of penguins from zoological areas in Europe.
The Benalmádena Cable Car will take you from the center of the urban core of Arroyo de la Miel to the Calamorro Summit, 771 meters above sea level after a journey of 5,565 meters. From the summit you can see the coast, the Mediterranean and, on clear days, the Rock of Gibraltar and the African summits of the Atlas. At the Calamorro Summit you can go on excursions, perform a bird of prey show and there is a café and shops.
Finally, in Benalmádena Pueblo area you can visit the Benalmádena Butterfly Park, which has more than 1,500 butterflies from around the world in a tropical habitat and where you can see more than 150 different species throughout the year. It is a glazed tropical garden of more than 900 m2 of surface and eight meters high.
Both for the enjoyment of tourists and residents, Benalmádena has a series of celebrations throughout the year, whether national or local.
The first festivities in the year are also celebrated in other Spain places, although, as in each municipality, Benalmádena gives it its hallmark, thus creating a special charm. This is the case of Holy Week with live representation of the Passion of Jesus, by more than 250 residents of Benalmádena. It takes place on the mornings of Holy Thursday and Good Friday in a natural setting specially prepared for this purpose in an area near Benalmádena Pueblo.
At the end of spring, Corpus Christi takes place in Benalmádena Pueblo. In this celebration it is traditional to dress the main roads with floral rugs. A mass is celebrated in the Church of St. Dominic, from where a procession begins through the streets adorned with flowers.
In Arroyo de la Miel a similar act is held in the afternoon, where a mass is celebrated on an altar that is built for the occasion at the gates of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Giving way to summer, the St. John's Night is celebrated, which coincides with the Arroyo de la Miel Fair. On June 23 and for several days sports activities, various exhibitions, fireworks and traditional juas take place. The day always ends at the fairgrounds, where the booths take on their splendor during the whole night.
In addition, on the night of June 23-24, the Benalmádena beaches fill with people to celebrate St. John's Night. Groups of people gather on the coast to spend the night making bonfires and waiting for the sunrise. Next to El Bil-Bil Castle, a great concert opens the festivities behind the rockets that announce midnight.
On July 16 the Carmel Night Out takes place in Benalmádena Costa, with dances, attractions and the procession by the sea with the arrival of the virgin at the Benalmádena Marina. Dozens of boats and launches accompany her and with their whistles announce their arrival. The night ends with fireworks and the song Salve Marinera played by the orchestra that livens up the party.
In mid-August, in Benalmádena Pueblo, the Festivities of the Virgin of the Cross are celebrated, with another complete program, which also includes activities of all kinds, festivals, performances by figures with an international name and the election of the Queen of parties.
Finally, the main cultural event of the municipality of Benalmádena takes place during the months of July and August and the first week of September, when the various events in the program of the so-called Benalmádena Summer Festival take place, combining cinema, music and theater at the Benalmádena Municipal Auditorium.
The film screenings continue during the October month with the Benalmádena International Short Film and Alternative Film Festival.
As is normal, the gastronomy of Benalmádena is based mainly on food from sea, with fried fish as the main dish. However, there are typical dishes outside these products, such as the cachorreña cooking pot or the milk migas.
The starters also disagree with the dependence on these types of products, offering dishes such as the porra antequerana, the gazpacho, the chilled garlic and almond soup, the Iberian ham, the Málaga salad or salads in general.
However, the demand makes its star dishes depend on maritime products, giving you the opportunity to try the legendary sardine spits, cuttlefish, shrimp, clams, prawns, sea bream, sea bass, pink cusk-eel, etc.
In addition, some of the best rice specialists on the Costa del Sol are in Benalmádena, cooking seafood paella, mixed paella, black rice and lobster rice as specialties in this field.