The history of Benahavis starts at the end of the XIth century, when the Arabs founded the town. Closely related with the Costa del Sol’s Arabic past, and particularly with Marbella, the district which it belonged to until it was granted the so-called “Carta Puebla” by Philip II in 1572.
Montemayor Castle, built prior to the Construction of Benahavis, playes a very important role in the battles between the various Arabs kings in Andalusia, because of its strategic position. It was disputed for many years by the military factions of the epoch. Its prominent location overlooking up to a hundred kilometres of seaboard, and even the African coast, was extremely useful at a time when piracy and invasion were commonplace.
The town takes its name from Havis, who reigned in Montemayor Castle. To be precise, Benahavis is basically Arabic (Ben al Havis) and means “son of Havis”.
The castle’s strategic location drew the attention of the Catholic Monarchs, intent on conquering the last Moorish kingdoms in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Isabel and Ferdinand’s forces had already laid siege to the Nazarite kingdom of Granada, but they decided first to occupy the nearby province of Malaga.
Soon on the 11th of June, 1485, Benahavis, together with the localities of Daidin, Montemayor Castle, Cortes Fortress, Oxen, Arboto, Almachor, Tramores and Calalui Fort (the Castle of Light), in the Bermeja Mountains, all within the district of Marbella, were handed over to King Ferdinand the Catholic, by Mohammed Abuneza after the signing of the capitulation.
The Catholic King entrusted their custody to Don Pedro Villandrado, Count of Ribadeo, the first christian mayor of Benahavis. From that moment on, a dispute arose between Benahavís and Marbella which lasted three and half centuries, until Benahavís achieved the status of a completely independent community.
As for Montemayor Castle, it is worth noting that as well as its impressive location, it had an underground passageway connecting it with the coast, through which the Arabs were able to transport soldiers.
Nature & Wildlife
The privileged situation of Benahavis, surrounded by mountains, between the Sierra Blanca behind Estepona and the Ronda mountain range, and only a few kilometres from Marbella and Estepona, municipalities bordering with the village territory, convert Benahavis into an authentic treasure for lovers of unspoilt nature.
From its mountains you will be able to overlook more than 100 kilometres of the Costa del Sol and a good stretch of the African mountain range on clear days.
Three rivers cross the Benahavis territory, all of them have their sources in the Ronda mountain range and end up in the Mediterranean :
– Rio Guadalmina ( river of the mines ), 28 km long, runs along the eastern border of the village and was of stratigic defensive importance, also serving as a generator for the flour mills in the village.
– Rio Guadalmansa ( river of the oil mill ), running on the eastern side of the Benahavis territory from North to South.
– Rio Guadaiza ( river of Aixa, mother of Boabdil the younger ), 22 km long, on the left side of the Ronda road, passing in front of the Daidin ruins.
The Benahavis territory is very picturesque. From the N340, between San Pedro and Estepona, you’ll get to the Benahavis access road. Immediatly, the terrain gets more mountainous, and the first outskirts of the Serrania de Ronda show up. Over the ages, the Guadalmina river has carved out a deep valley on the side of the road.
On both sides, you can see the mountain peaks. Close to the village, the river valley becomes a real canyon, which is called ” las Angosturas ” because of its narrowness ( all to do with “anguish” ) , which is classified as a natural monument. Once you have passed this, you will see the first houses of the village. From the village, you can sometimes see the snowcapped peaks of the Palmitera mountain ( 1379 m above sea level ) in winter. Plenty of granite, marble and peridotites form an important part of the geology in the territory of Benahavis.