Granada’s coastal area has dozens of beaches and small coves with crystal-clear water, 320 sunny days a year and an average temperature of 20 degrees. These are the basic facts that sum up the 73 kilometres of tropical coastline in the province of Granada, which gets its name from the exceptionally good weather it enjoys all year round. Two centuries ago, this was the only place in Europe where tropical fruits such as mangos, cherimoyas and avocados could be grown. These are fruits that evoke exotic flavours and places but, in fact, they are grown in Europe, in one of the most privileged corners of Andalucía.
Granada’s Costa Tropical is on the Mediterranean coast and in the south of the province. To get there, you can fly to Granada, Málaga or Almeria airports. By road you should take the A-44 from Granada. If you are coming from the Costa del Sol or from Almeria you can take the A-7 motorway.
The Phoenicians, who were expert traders and sailors from Asia Minor, settled in the area’s fertile lands and developed a buoyant economy based on trade, agricultural production, and salted fish. During this period Almuñécar (the Phoenician town of Sexi) became one of the most important commercial ports in the Mediterranean. It has been mentioned by ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder and Strabon.
Under the Romans, Salobreña’s economy benefited from the fact that the town formed part of the route that linked Castulo with Malaka. At the same time, a number of great monuments were built in Sexi (Almuñécar).
The Costa Tropical reached the height of its splendour in the Muslim period, when towns like Lentejí, Otívar, Jete and Almuñécar became key parts of the Nasrid kingdom. It was also during this period that the first defensive fortresses, watchtowers, and observation posts were built to defend the coast from Christian attacks. They proved to be of great use during the Modern Age as a means of defending the coast from attacks by Berbers and Turkish pirates.
The Christian conquest and the expulsion of the Moors was followed by a period of development which would last until modern times. Tropical fruits, the production of high quality wines, and the tourist industry all became important local economic drivers.
From the earliest settlers valuable remains can be found, some of which date back to the Neolithic Period and the Bronze Age at the Cueva del Capitán in Lobres and at Llanos de Carchuna in Motril. El Peñón, El Hacho, El Camino de los Barreros in Salobreña and the Cave of Los Murciélagos in Albuñol, are places where beautifully preserved basketwork from the Neolithic period has been discovered.
The Phoenicians also left their mark in Almuñécar, where the Necropolis of Puente de Noy can be visited. One of the most interesting features of the necropolis is a funerary casket containing a body lying in the foetal position and four ceramic vases. Some of the most important remains in the town are those built by the Romans, including an aqueduct from the 1st century AD, the Torre del Monje, the Columbarium La Albina and the Cueva de los Siete Palacios. The latter, a large water cistern with vaulted ceilings surrounding the Cerro de San Miguel, is one of the most important urban constructions in Roman Spain. It is here that the Museo Arqueológico Municipal is located, which houses a valuable cinerary vase of the Pharaoh Apophis I, dating from between the 17th and 16th centuries BC.
During the Muslim period many fortressed castles, watchtowers and observation posts were built. They were used to protect against incursions by the Christian troops. Examples include the remains of the Castillo de Salobreña, the Castillo de Albuñol, the Castillo de San Miguel, the Castell de Ferro, Carchuna and La Herradura. In the 16th century the Christians constructed fortresses such as the Castillo de Baños. Numerous towers still keep watch over the area’s coastline such as the Torre de Cautor and the Torre de La Instancia as well as some in Albuñol, like the Cerro Gordo, Punta de la Mona and in La Herradura. There are also many examples of religious architecture around the Costa Tropical such as the Iglesia de la Encarnación in Almuñécar, which was one of the first in the province to be built in a Baroque style. The Iglesia de la Virgen del Rosario in Albuñol dates back to the 17th century.