Man has lived on what is now known as the Costa del Sol for many thousands of years. Neanderthal man occupied caves and open spaces throughout the province, though findings have been concentrated near the mouths of rivers in Axarquia, and in cave complexes near Malaga. As time went on populace increased and by the time the Bronze Age dawned human presence on the Costa was widespread.
History Costa del Sol
The original draw to the coastline was one gifted by nature; the Costa del Sol has just about the mildest climate in Europe, an abundance of golden sandy beaches, and is flanked by a beautiful and varied mountainous terrain. This attracted ancient peoples in the same way as today; it was the Phoenicians who (visiting the southern and eastern coasts of Spain for the purposes of trade) founded the city of Malaga.
However it was the Romans who (as part of the ongoing struggle against Carthage) invaded the Iberian peninsular, and after a time unified rule over what is now modern Spain. Malaga grew in importance becoming a major colony, which in turn led to the Romanisation of the surrounding lands. Aqueducts, bath houses, temples, fortifications and government structures were built along much of the Costa del Sol, some of which still exist today. In fact Julius Caesar himself was once a governor of Hispania Ulterior (the south and west of the country) and is said to have spent time enjoying the delights of the Costa del Sol.
Events (such as the touring of Spain by St. Paul in AD 62) led to the spread of Christianity in Spain and by the 4th century AD it was widespread throughout the country and the Costa del Sol region.
By 476 AD the Roman Empire was in decline and pressure on Germanic tribes by the expansion of the Mongol population led to escalating incursions into Roman territory. This intensified as time went on and eventually Spain was invaded by the Vandals, Alani and Suevi peoples. They in turn were quickly overthrown by the Visigoths (another tribe of Germanic origin) who completed their conquest of the peninsular (Spain) in 476AD.
The Moors (Arabs) brought about the next major change in the history of the Costa del Sol, and indeed much of southern Spain. In the 8th century AD they invaded the region after defeating the Hispanic-Visigoth army of Theodomir. Malaga then became the main port for the kingdom of Granada. Much progress was made during the years of Islamic rule. They brought with them advances in art and architecture. Also imported were oranges, palms and rice, in addition to the irrigation techniques needed to transform the arid landscape into fertile agricultural land. Some of Spain’s most beautiful buildings and monuments were left behind by the Moors; such as the Alhambra in Granada, or the Alcazaba in Malaga. Though a successful power for hundreds of years, civil strife gradually wore down the Moorish kingdom of Granada, resulting in a loss of power and tradition. They were largely tolerated by the growing Christian population within Spain, but by the time Granada was taken in 1492 the mood had changed and over time many Moors were expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity. Thus the Moorish empire in southern Spain vanished.
The Spanish state remained until modern times (though not without strife) and the history of the Costa del Sol differed little from that of its coastal neighbours. That is until the 1950’s when celebrities such as Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando and European royalty began to visit the Costa; Puerto Banus in particular. Post war Europe demanded entertaining and this quickly caught on. In 1962 the first flight connections were established between Malaga and several European cities, the tourist industry quickly found its feet, and (as they say) the rest is history.
Please refer to the “Costa del Sol Tourism” document for more up to date information on the Costa.