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Manilva

Population: 13,258

Surface Area: 35.3 square kilometres

What the natives are called: Manilveños

Outstanding Sights: La Duquesa castle (or Sabinillas fort), Santa Ana church, Chullera towers, beaches, La Duquesa marina

Geographical Location: This is the western-most municipality on the Costa del Sol and therefore borders on the province of Cádiz. It is 97 kilometres from the city of Málaga and 35 from Gibraltar. The average annual rainfall in the area is 750 litres per square metre and the average temperature is 17º C.
 

This municipality contains five urban centres between the River Manilva and the border of the province of Cádiz that originated in different eras and among which the population is distributed: the actual village of Manilva, Sabinillas, El Castillo, Hondacavada and El Puerto de la Duquesa, as well as various housing developments that are in a state of constant and orderly growth.

The landscape, far now from the rugged interior of the province, displays the topographic features of the nearby Campo de Gibraltar (Gibraltar area) being a succession of low hills creased by short streams that empty directly into the sea (Alcorrín, Martagina, Indiano, Estanquillo, etc). On one of these hills, specifically that of Los Mártires, sits the village at less than three kilometres from the coast.

It is known that these lands were covered with vineyards at least since the sixteenth century and they continue to be, but they do not constitute the only crop as there are also areas devoted to grain, vegetables, fruit trees and pastures. The last two are more abundant the closer one gets to the River Guadiaro on the border of the province of Cádiz.

Manilva’s location, very close to the Straits of Gibraltar, has meant that practically every culture that has passed through the Iberian Peninsular has also passed through this territory. There is no doubt that since the Neolithic period there has been uninterrupted human settlement of one sort or another right up to the present time. There are late Neolithic remains in some caves in the Utrera mountain range, and at the Cerro del Castillo archaeological site Bronze Age remains have been found.

But here again it was the Romans who left the most tangible traces of their culture, such as the Roman villa of Sabinillas, the ruins of what apparently was a tower on the El Hacho hill, and some ceramics at Haza del Casareño. The sites from the Muslim domination are found in the interior, rather far from the coast.

Beginning with the sixteenth century the history of Manilva parallels that of Casares, the county to which it belonged at that time. The lack of security in this area of the Mediterranean during that century was a danger to many communities, causing Málaga, Gibraltar and Ronda to ask Carlos V to urge the Duke of Arcos to provide more protection and to set up a town on the coast.

In 1528 Carlos V ordered the construction of a tower at El Salto de la Mora, and shortly afterwards half a hundred residents of Casares set up residence on the Los Mártires hill. These would be the first settlers of the original Manilva, which would continue to be subordinate to Casares until 1796, the year it achieved its independence.

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