Where to visit in Algarrobo...
Santa Ana Church
The church dates from 16th century, on the site of an old mosque.
The church has experienced several expansions, but recently underwent a major restoration that lasted two years, changing the roof, floors, walls, and lighting.
The works were paralyzed for a while after the discovery of remains under the church floor – not only archaeological, but human, as it was customary to bury the dead inside churches for centuries.
Escalerilla park and municipal pool
Near the entrance of Algarrobo, off Calle La Escarilla, there is a beautiful park called Parque de la Escalerilla, which is itself next to the village swimming pool.
Inside the park there is also a sizeable games area as well as tennis courts. The park’s name ‘Escalerilla’ comes from the attractive small stone steps that lead down into it. After a morning strolling around the village, perhaps getting hot and bothered, the park comes as a welcome break, there are several park benches well positioned in shady spots under the Jacaranda trees to relax on.
The park is also used for outdoor celebrations and there is a special permanent ‘tent’ structure constructed, the Pista Municipal Polideportiva, La Carpa, where events like the annual flamenco contest (Noche Flamenca Algarrobo) and Algarroba Rock take place.
Like the park itself, another fairly new addition to the village is the municipal swimming pool. Being outdoor means that, even on the Costa del Sol, it is only open mainly during the warmest months – June, July and August.
The pool is fairly large – 28 metres by 15 metres, with a depth of between 1.79 and 1.40 metres. However, for small children there is also a smaller pool (4 metres by 3 metres) which is only half a metres deep.
During the week the pools are open from 3.00 pm to 7.30 pm. At weekends the hours are longer – 12.00 midday to 8.00 in the evening.
Prices are extremely reasonable, from less than a euro for children less than 14 years, to 1.55 euros for those over 14 – and that’s for the whole day. Expect to pay just a little more on festive days. There are also season tickets and family discounts available as well.
For up to date information it would be best to go to the town council – Ayuntamiento de Algarrobo, C/. Antonio Ruiz Rivas 2, telephone 95 255 24 30.
Ermita San Sebastían and Gardens
The handsome Ermita (Hermitage) de San Sebastián is of recent construction, dating back to 1976, though it was built on the site of the original 17th century building, which was in ruins.
It stands atop a hill known as ‘El Egido’ and consists of a single nave on a Latin Cross ground plan. The entrance to the chapel is formed by a Roman arch flanked by pilasters on either side and crowned by a bell gable.
The interior, devoid of ornaments, is very light and airy thanks to the slender windows of the nave and at the ends of the transept. Focussed on the altar wall is a niche which houses the image of San Sebastian.
The building is surrounded by illuminated fountains, gardens and trees, known as the San Sebastian Gardens (photo, right), a very pleasant spot, set against the backdrop of the rugged mountains and the sea.
Playa de Algarrobo
The River Algarrobo separates its ‘playa’ (beach) at Algarrobo Costa with that belonging to the next village along the coast – Mezquitilla beach.
It is about 800 metres long and 20 metres wide, and located towards the centre of Algarrobo Costa. The beach is made up of sand and gravel, and enjoys moderate waves. It has a high occupancy in the season, but offers most of the services one would expect of an ‘urban’ beach. In fact, it was awarded the blue flag for its services and cleanliness in 2015.
The straight and the leaning towers
La Torrenueva the ‘new tower’ – also known as Torre Derecha, the ‘straight tower’ – was built in 1755 to replace the other, older watchtower in Algarrobo Costa, La Torre Ladeada, the ‘leaning tower’.
Both were watchtowers or lookout points used to spot invasions from the sea, especially from pirates. In case of danger a fire (ie, a beacon) would be lit at the top to signal to the other towers along the coast, all of which were built in sight of each other.
La Torre Ladeada dates back to the mid-1500’s, and was built at a time when the Spanish shores were being constantly harried by pirates from the so-called Barbary coast of North Africa.
The raids were such a problem that many residents abandoned the coastal villages and made their homes up in the hill top villages in the interior. It has been estimated that along the shores of Spain and Italy, pirates captured about 850,000 people as slaves between 1580 and 1680.
Torre Ladeada inclination of about 18 degrees is due to the fact that its shallow foundations were made on sand – it’s only 20 yards or so from the beach – and over time the action of the sea and the strong westerly winds have made it collapse on one side.
La Torrenueva on the other hand, is a far larger and more sturdy structure (and still ‘straight’), with rooms for storage as well as for soldiers stationed there. It could house 8 infantry soldiers plus 4 cavalrymen and 2 pieces of artillery.
Finca del Ceregumil
About half a kilometre up the A7206 from Algarrobo Costa is the beautiful, modernist house that was once the home of the pharmacist, Bernabé Fernández-Sanchez, who in the early 20th century invented the ‘Ceregumil’ vitamin complex.
The house is now a religious retreat owned by the Diocesis of Málaga.
Visitors are welcome, and as well as accommodation for individuals, families, or religious groups, who want to stay there.
The house, (now named ‘Casa de espiritualidad Trayamar’), can also be booked out for meetings.
For more details, see their website.
The Granada apothecary that started a multi-million euro business…
The house is popularly known as Finca del Ceregumil after ‘Ceregumil’, a famous medicinal syrup made from cereals and legumes mixed with honey and sugarcane, that is still manufactured, in Spain and the USA. It is still marketed as a nutritional aid for the elderly and for those with eating disorders and nutritional deficiencies, plus nowadays, of course, as an elixir to alleviate work stress.
The concoction was originally created in 1907 by Bernabé, an apothecary from Granada, who was determined to help people with gastric intolerance, a condition that also caused high infant mortality at the time. Indeed, his own two year old son fell seriously ill with it but fortunately, thanks to the syrup, the child started to eat again and so was pulled back from the brink of death. Bernabé had proved the efficacy of his product.
The word spread like wildfire throughout Andalucía. The formula, in which extracts of wheat, barley, corn, oats, beans, lentils, honey, calcium glycerophosphate, sugar cane and water are macerated, worked perfectly, there were never any complaints. Doctors and scientists came to see him, and product demand began.
Then, thanks to his wife, Blanca Canivell Pascual, whose family had had previous business experience, the syrup was developed commercially. The labelling was done by Fernandez Sanchez himself, who described the product as: ‘a food tonic and for remineralizing the body, especially useful in cases of acute and chronic enteritis, anemia, scrofula, organic dyspepsia, and weakness.’
By 1912, the competition from similar syrups, and even imitators, led Bernabé to register it and patent it with the name of ‘Ceregumil’, an attempt at an acronym formed by some syllables of the words ‘cereal’, ‘legumes’ and ‘honey’. By 1921, the fame of Ceregumil had crossed borders and sales began in Europe, South America and the United States.
Even the Spanish royals succumbed to the sweetness of the syrup, and the signature of Isabel de Borbon, Infanta of Spain, was stamped into a book about Ceregumil produced for the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville in 1929.
The Casa del Ceregumil was acquired by Fernández-Sanchez as a home laboratory, but also a place of rest and recreation for the pharmacist. It was a cultural meeting point, where in its rooms gathered renown painters of the time as well as members of the ‘Generación del 27’, an influential group of poets that arose in Spanish literary circles between 1923 and 1927. However, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, (1936 to 1939), the house then became a clandestine factory for the syrup for a while.
In 1955 the house was sold and became a training and boarding house for male rural teachers. Later it became a college for entry into the Seminary (theological college). The house now belongs to the Diocese of Málaga, and they call it ‘La Casa de Espiritualidad Trayamar’.
However, the house is still known locally as the ‘Finca del Ceregumil’, due to the long-lasting affection of the product. During the Franco years and well into the 1980s, Ceregumil was kept in many homes because people trusted the brand and believed that the syrup could, as the 1920’s poster said, ‘treat the child and support the elderly’. Moreover, such was its efficacy, that it was also available in hospitals because it was considered a medicinal product. Although by the end of the 20th century the market was filled with products to alleviate the fatigue of modern life, etc, since combining with another Spanish company a few years ago, Ceregumil is still a multi-million euro business (http://www.ceregumil.com/).
Immediately below Finca Ceregumil, there is a path towards the Trayamar Necropolis, considered to be one of the most important Phoenician tomb complexes found in the western Mediterranean, and the oldest Phoenician site in Europe.
In 1930, when a group of workers attempted to dig a pit for a pool at Ceregumil, suddenly there was a collapse and a hole in the ground appeared between large blocks of stone. Then later, from inside, Ceregumil’s owner, Bernabé Fernández-Sanchez, recovered a series of objects that he suspected were ancient and extraordinary.
Thirty-four years later, the objects were shown to members of the German Archaeological Institute of Madrid during their excavation of a nearby archaeological site at Toscanos near Vélez-Malaga. Excited members of the team corroborated the importance of the objects.
Between 1967 and 1969 archaeologists from this same Institute verified the existence of five magnificent graves at the Ceregumil site.
Later on, in 2006, there were more extensive excavations in the area of the necropolis, and remains of Punic graves were also found a little further south. Unfortunately, many of the tombs have been destroyed, so that only the so-called tomb No. 1 that was discovered in 1930 and the Phoenician grave excavated in 2006, are left. However, now that the site is being looked after by the Diocesis of Málaga, it is hopefully in good hands.
Visiting the site…
For a long time it was known that there was a Phoenician presence in this area which, in antiquity, would have been a sort of peninsular at the entrance of a marine bar. East of the river basin of Algarrobo there was some sort of settlement on a hill, and on the other side was discovered the Trayamar Necropolis. The site dates from the mid-7th century BC, which was towards the end of the Phoenician pre-eminence in the Mediterranean after their conquest by the Babylonians in the east. However, they were soon replaced by the Carthaginians, whose capital city was originally a Phoenician outpost.
At Trayamar there are a group of underground tombs (hypogeums), one of which is quite well-preserved, showing the characteristic oriental design of a chamber made from regular stone blocks with a wooden covering, accessed by a ramp. The tomb was used as a family vault, periodically reopened to deposit the ashes of the deceased, except the last that were burials. This continued use of the site suggests there was a stable, continued Phoenician presence in the area, probably, it has been speculated, near the village of Morro de Mezquitilla.
Excavations uncovered various urns and ornaments of important archaeological value, giving experts some insight into the lives of a Phoenician settlement. Jewels, utensils and other pieces found in the tombs are on display at Málaga’s Provincial Archaeological Museum, along with a scale reproduction of how the tomb would originally have looked.
Given that the site is in the grounds belonging to Finca Ceregumil, it is necessary to call in first and ask for the key to see the excavation.
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Algarrobo pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Algarrobo, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.