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WATCH TOWERS

WATCH TOWERS

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Even though this coastal defense system dates back to the Muslim period, since the arrival of the Arabs to the Peninsula, this system was motivated by political upheavals and was implanted in the mid- thirteenth century on the coasts of the Kingdom of Granada; they were given special attention, so much, that the monarchs of Granada built a series of watchtowers that subsequently, with the other towers were included in the Christian coastal defense system in the sixteenth century.

In principle, their defensive function was to give warning of the presence of enemy boats using fire at the top of the tower; the smoke could be seen by the surrounding towers and allow coastal guards know where to go to stop the attack of the “berberiscos”. They were later armed and became an active artillery defensive element.

After the conquest of Mijas in 1487 by the Christian troops of the Catholic Monarchs and the sale of its inhabitants as slaves. A policy was made to repopulate these areas that had been depopulated.


In 1492, the properties of the former inhabitants were granted to the new Christian settlers, who had moved to Mijas after the conquest, yet reassuring the presence of several Hispanic Muslim neighbors. However, within a few years, many of these settlers abandoned the land that was granted to them,  due to various factors; such as the attacks to the coast of Malaga by pirates who came from ports located in the north of Africa, etc ., Causing the coastal zone to remain uninhabited, being unable to repopulate the area of the castle of ??Fuengirola , which in those days belonged to Mijas , until 1841, when the coastal strip was segregated to form the present municipality of Fuengirola.

Due to this uncertainty, watchtowers were erected along the Mediterranean to control and prevent the attacks by North African pirates. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, the Calahonda Tower, The New Tower of La Cala del Moral, The Old La Cala del Moral Tower( current home of the Interpretation Centre of Watchtowers, of the Historical - Ethnological Museum of Mijas ) The Tower of Calaburras and Blanca Tower (the latter disappeared and was situated in the municipality of Fuengirola), were built and all currently declared of Cultural Interest in the Monument category.

The same happened on the rest of the coast of the province of Málaga, numerous towers were built to complement those of medieval origin to create a new system of defense.

TORRE-BATERÍA DE LA CALA

The Tower is " hoof shaped " (horseshoe), it is formed by half a prolonged circle with two lunette salient. Its perimeter is 35 meters approximately and it is more than 10 meters high.

Inside the tower are two floors, the lower or basement would be the "Santa Barbara" (at ground level outside). The top floor or main chamber is illuminated by two windows and has a brick vaulted cellar in line with northern headwall, and is equipped with all the necessary services (pantry, fireplace, etc.) Finally, a roof terrace with a parapet and a chimney hole for smoke. On the two lunette salient there are roof terra-ces, where there are two turrets of 2.40 x 2.30 and 2.40 m in height. Both turrets have arrow slits on the front which are covered with Arabic tiles. The tower has been built of brick masonry with various elements such as corner posts, jambs and lintels, embrasures, parapet moldings, interior walls and vaults. The original access to the tower was 6 feet high up.


As indicated in a report of 1773, The “Reducto” Tower of La Cala del Moral was built in that year. A year later, another report mentions that the tower was equipped with two cannons of 16 or 24 pounds in weight and that they were in good condition.

In 1821, it was noted that Torre Cala del Moral Artillery needed new ground for two cannons of 8 pounds in weight and needed considerable works. Later, in a document of 1830, the tower is described as a circular tower of 11 “varas” (measurement considered to be nearly a meter) in diameter and enclosed with a fortification of 13 and a half “varas” high and a tower which was garrisoned by a corporal, three tower keepers and six soldiers.

In 1849, a report is made saying the tower is in a very bad condition and it is advised not to maintain it, nevertheless in 1857 it is mentioned that the tower had been re-paired and is in good condition. In later re-ports: 1860, 1873, 1906 and 1945, it is indicated that the tower is unarmed.

Some authors point out, incorrectly, that the tower was finished in the early sixteenth century.

In the past century, the tower has been used as a home and a front door was opened at street level, as well as a window, into what was originally the ammunition depot. Later, it was restored by the Town Hall of Mijas, who turned the building into a museum. Currently it is the home of the Interpretation Centre of Watchtowers.


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