Dr. Quien’s Blog Number 6. The worst of times…

Today’s adventure through time will take Dr. Quien back to 400 A.D. to the final decade of the Roman occupation of Spain where we will witness at first hand the decline of Rome from our local perspective. This once great Municipality, which centered on the location of modern Fuengirola, is now in dark days that are about to get much darker.

My boat is parked as usual opposite the Yaramar and still no one suspects that it hides a time travelling machine with 2 floors of luxury living. The coordinates are set and the same boat will soon appear suitably disguised as a local craft on the same beach in late Roman Suel, 400 A.D.

My last visit here was 375 years before, at the height of Roman wealth and decadence, which continued before a long slow decline about a hundred before my visit. All empires end, normally as the battles become long drawn out wars. As I emerged onto the beach, the sea was flat, the day was windless and the first thing I noticed was the smell. The indistinguishable smell of a fish salting factory hung in the air like death.

There were fishing boats with battered dirty sails around the river by the Finca de Secretario and from a distance I could see more around the river by the Castle. It was the height of Summer,and the rivers had silted up because they had not been maintained, this meant that boats were pulled up the beach after losing their natural harbour. From a distance, I could see the Finca del Secretario had plumes of smoke and steam belching out of the land in front, so I decided to go there first. As I got closer, the smell got worse, you will only know how bad it is if you visit a fish salting factory.

Previously the finca had an adequate supply of water with tanks and reservoirs to supply the luxury life to the Finca and its now famous baths. But now, most of the Finca was in ruins and the water for the baths was used in the water-intensive fish salting process. The fireplaces that once heated the water were now being used to heat kilns in which clay pots are created. Amid the heat and smells about 20 people are working industriously.

I move through the new factory, past the dried up baths and up the steps (crossing the current n340) to the site where a magnificent finca now stood in ruins. In the one corner of the finca that was still standing, there were some offices and living accommodation which I went to investigate. As I approached the building a large man approached me and introduced himself with a long Italian name and the title of ‘El Secretario’. At last, after all the mystery of who this person was, I was now standing in one of the last holders of this great office; this would make an amazing story. He was a kind man, with a look of melancholy about him and when I asked him for an interview for a journalistic piece I was working on, he sighed and said, ‘why not’.

My first question got him talking straight away, when I asked him about the historical role of his office. He explained that he is the head of Roman tax collection for the area, he got the job 20 years ago due to ‘family’ connections in Rome and lived under a threat to his family if he did not collect the right taxes for Rome. A huge war was being fought against the invaders from the North of Europe and Rome needed every dinar to fight them off. But it was never enough, every couple of years a delegation would arrive from Rome, check the books and urge the local Ibero/Romans to keep the local tribes in order and create more wealth. He points to the finca that has crumbled to the ground and tells me what happened.

“Five years ago the delegation came here and demanded that we quarry more marble from the hills, I told them how we had no workers, the marble was high in the hills and the river was no longer usable. It was then that they walked around the finca, counted the 365 marble columns and acquisitioned them all to help the war effort. After that, most of the Finca fell down and even more boats came to take away the fine building materials to sell to the Persians.” El Secreterio explained his own particular favorite was a statue of Venus which was carved as an image of his late wife. Rather than let the statue be taken by them, he took a large hammer to it, removed the head, arms and legs and buried it below the finca to ensure that statue will never leave this site.

He told me another story given to him by a local marble trader concerning a ready carved temple front with 4 columns. Half of the money had been paid and it had been agreed the other half would be paid by the boat that arrived to collect it. While they were waiting a long time for the boat, for security reasons they decided to bury the columns under cover of darkness. The workers have since moved on, the owner of the columns died and no one had a clue where they were buried. Perhaps one day someone will discover them and erect them to look out across the sea…..

He mentioned that he had to go to the Castle for a ‘crisis meeting’ with the local council and offered to walk with me and explain what would become of this jewel of the Roman empire. The first problem, he explains as we walk along the battered pathway, is that nobody wants to live and work here anymore. Under the Roman system, if you lived in a Municipum such as Suel, you paid taxes, were protected by Roman troops, represented by elected councilors and could perhaps one day be considered to apply for Roman citizenship. However in a century or more of sharp decline, this status had become less attractive to new generations. Many had left to join the local tribes living inland and only taxed on trade with the Romans.

The Secretario goes on to explain how living in a town under Rome was good when the economy was good, but now, it does not really pay. The people who really make it work are the class of Ibero / Romans, an elite class who intermarried with the locals to make a class of rulers who could manage affairs on behalf of Rome. They collect the local taxes and represent the local people to the rulers in Malaga, can read and speak Latin and even visit Rome. This class has also suffered, they used to have a privileged lifestyle but now their lives were becoming more desperate with the demands from Rome to keep collecting and paying more taxes. Life expectancy had risen to 40 years and beyond in the good times, now life was ‘nasty, brutish and short’, perhaps 30 years for a worker.

He then explains the next problem, the seabourne invaders. The North Africans and other pirates have been invading these shores for the last 50 years. The Castle was just a tower until 50 years ago, since then walls were built all around it so that the community could shelter when an attack takes place. He explains how most of the financial matters are now administered from the Castle because of the extra security it provides; hence the decline of the Finca. The Secretario explains how security was not a problem under the old Roman empire, if anyone invaded Spain the world’s fiercest army would find them, kill them and take over their country. “Now the Roman army is being driven back home through the bottom half of Europe, chased by the angry Visigoths and Vandals, the last thing they have time for is to hang around here and defend us.”

After a long walk along a decaying road no longer fit for chariots, past abandoned homes and ruins along the way, we arrive at the Castle. The first thing I notice is the smell; the huge villa in front of the Castle has been converted into another fish salting factory, again to produce money from exports. Rows of empty houses line hills around the Castle, a settlement that had once been home to a couple of thousand people was about half empty. With every new raid by the pirates more families would depart for the interior until eventually the ruling classes would stand alone as the Romans inevitably left.

El Secretario explains to me how almost everyone has fled for the hills, the only ones left are the Ibero Romans who were bred to be tax collectors, politicians and poets. When the soldiers leave, as they will have to in the coming years, these people will be left high born, noble and completely defenseless against the local tribes from Coin and Alhaurin, or the invaders from the sea. El Secretario bids me farewell; he knows that these crisis meetings can go on for 12 hours and that I would not enjoy attending. In thanking him I encourage him and try to explain my belief that the great role that he fill in this place will be remembered thousands of years into the future. At first he looked self satisfied, then confused and then look at me like I was mad, we exchanged further Latin greetings of the road while I went to look at the grim declining town.

It all seems so desolate, decay and industrial grime everywhere masking a sense of impending doom, of enemies arriving from every direction and Rome, the glue of civilisation for over 500 years in its final decline. Just 9 years later the Vandals would cross the Pyrenees into Hispania and the Silingi Vandals would take the South, Rome would be sacked by the Visigoths in 410.
There were 5 or 10 years between the Romans leaving and the Visigoths arriving, but it was too late for the residents of Suel, the North Africans got their first. Most of the gloomy people I saw had short lives ahead of them.

Reflecting on the gloom I had witnessed I sat on the south facing slope of the Castle, looked toward the villa that had become a factory, and remembered that would be the spot on which a stage would one day stand. On the 4th of May 2019, the creator of the following song would stand in that very position, the words seemed apt for this desolate landscape.

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Stay tuned for more adventures through history with Dr Quien

If you want to know more about Dr Quien and his amazing mission to travel through the past of the location of Fuengirola, you can find the introduction and previous installments here

Dr Quien’s Blog

Follow the rest of the website to find out more about Fuengirola before you get here.

And finally, if you want to be kept updated with future episodes and other revelations and inspirations from the past of the location of Fuengirola please like, comment and share my Facebook page at Fuengirola RevisitedFuengirola Revisited.

Dr Quien’s Blog number 5. What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?

It was A.D. 25, the location that is now Fuengirola was enjoying the best of times, with lands farmed, mined and quarried while fish were caught, salted and exported. Rome provided everything, trade, laws, boats, roads, language and most of all, protection. After centuries of loyal service Suel is about to become the Roman Municipality of Suel. The deal is quite simple, the town pays taxes to Rome and gets a local council.

Today’s time traveling blog takes a trip back to the day when a new standard of political leadership came to this location, perhaps the birth of our local authority. The day Fuengirola became a municipality of Rome.

“Authors Note; if you are new to Dr Quien, and his time travelling mission to explore the past of Fuengirola, you may like to start at the beginning https://fuengirolarevisited.com/dr-quiens-blog/ “
But do continue reading, love, like and shere…..

Back to the story..
My boat arrives on the beach in front of what is now the Hotel Yaramar in the year A.D. 25, early morning in the Summer. The Roman world is full of chroniclers and so, with my instant language brain implant, I can find some useful information on what may be an important day in the history of our town.

Instead of heading for the tower where the action is, I head for the hill where the Bull would stand 2000 years later. The Rio Pajares was so wide that to continue along the beach I needed a boatman and right on time, he appeared. A tall man, almost bald with an engaging manner that combined with a laconic sarcasm that was sort of, well, funny. As we crossed the river, he told me about the resident of the nearest buildings. The ‘Secretary’ is the richest and most important man in town, he lives in a grand villa just behind those tree’s and has a huge bathhouse. For the last few days dignitaries have been arriving from the big cities of Malaga, Sevilla and even Rome to bestow this great honour on Suel. The Secretary is extending his hospitality and the 50 guest suites in his villa are full with visitors bedecked in the grandest toga’s lined with jewels followed by officials, servants and guards.

He goes on to tell me that his business as a ferryman is suffering because today the Romans are opening the redeveloped road with new wooden bridges across each of the town’s rivers. This road will link the whole of the South Eastern corner of the Roman Empire (although half of it falls into the sea every decade or so, but today they are happy). He proceeds to tell me more local gossip, the one about using the bath house for Romans to breed with local women and create a new race, but it seemed a bit far-fetched.

My guide seemed to be an intelligent man with a strong local knowledge, he seemed strangely familiar which you will later discover. When he asked if I needed a guide on my visit, I instantly agreed.

We headed for the hill to get a view of the area from where the bull stands today. As roads and railways had not yet made the front face of the hill vertical we were able to climb to the top from the front. At the top, the sight was breathtaking. The beaches were a little further back than they are now, the mouth of the rivers wider and deep enough for water to flow. Most of the line from the top of the beach to about the level of the modern train line, was a swamp with tall reeds growing in it. My guide showed me where parts of the swamp had been drained and turned into farmland. He was against this, reasoning that the farmland would become stable and built on, thousands of people would live there and we would have lost a good swamp and disturb the wildlife. This he explained, was typical of the troubles that these Romans will bring to this land. In all of my conversations he repeatedly asked the question, “what have the Romans done for us?”

Looking down from this great height at the beaches, fishing boats with oars and small sails lined the top of the beach, many were starting out on their mornings fishing to get food for the celebrations tonight. He pointed to the south bank of the Rio Pajares and mentioned he had an appointment there tonight.

Looking across the land with the morning sun shining on it, I could see the castle site with one tower and a number of buildings nearby. White painted homes made of rock or wood lined the river banks. The river beside the castle has a port and the sea entrance 500 metres wide. It housed a flotilla of small ships that had bought dignitaries for the celebrations. The modern railway was positioned where it is, because it is at the top of the flat land, west of the track and the land rises on a rock bed and the east was a swamp. For this reason, the new Roman road ran along this line with ‘strip development’ of small wood and stone houses where people could live on solid ground rather than marshes. My guide told me that since the Romans arrived people have come from everywhere to live in Suel. As my eyes ran back along the road, I came to our current position, looked down and saw the most amazing villa below my feet. All that survives in the modern day are the bathhouses; a road is driven through the rest, and where now sits an empty field is a huge mansion with at least twenty buildings behind to service it, house, servants and troops.

The entire hill behind me and everywhere I could see, was filled with deep green vines. My guide pointed to the white scars in the hill, the material facts are here, they extract marble from those mountains and make wine from the grapes. They carry it down these rivers and the Secretary’s men collect the taxes on everything that moves. Bronze, grain and some tin from the interior mostly go through the castle. This is where the expensive goods are and doubtless why the secretary has this palace here.

As we stood gazing at the wonder of it all, we saw some boats leave the river in front of us to sail, or row the flat sea, to take the dignitaries to the Castle. Another large group followed the new road and over the new wooden bridges which led to the Castle.

My guide suggested that we leave them on the main road and follow the beach to the castle. He found a small boat and we crossed the Rio Pajares down river from the palace of the Secretary.

The morning sun was shining at us and my guide suggested that we call into the bar just past the Rio Pajares, funny enough it is about where @Hutchys bar is now. We were let in with a special knock at the door. The landlord, Sam, a foreigner from somewhere, let us in, his first clients of the day, he knew my guide and it all seemed very comfortable. It was a stone building, with cracked walls decorated with hanging white and patterned blankets. He said we looked thirsty, and suggested a drink. red or white says he, red says my guide, from the Sirah grape from our local hills, none of that imported stuff for us.

As we talked and the wine slipped back, he told me about life under Roman rule. It was a process of industrialisation, prior to their presence, it was subsistence farming, enough for people to eat and share some. The people were drumming, dancing and dreaming, then Rome arrived, things were written down, records kept, productivity increased, wealth extracted and long working days became the norm. Resistance is met with unspeakable brutality and very few privileges or opportunities exist for the non latin speaker. Sam bought us lunch, the wine was constantly refreshed and my guide continued to tell me stories of life in Roman Suel. At some time, I remembered that I had intended to be at the ceremony beside the Castle and reminded my guide that we were late.

He looked at me and said “do you honestly think it worth hearing more politicians make more speeches about how much more they are doing and how we, the people, are so lucky because we do the work and they take the money. Take today’s festivities if you will, we have become a ‘Municipum’ of Rome. It means that the residents of Suel are allowed to pay taxes to Rome, in exchange for protection. What I really want to know is, he repeated to me for the umpteenth time, ‘what have the Romans ever done for us?”

All of these long and intricate explanations had not mixed well and, after a siesta, my guide woke me up with a fresh cup of wine and the stories continued, most had an anti Roman theme. It continued through the afternoon and the same question was asked again and again, “what have the Romans ever done for us?” Toward the evening, 2 other men were let in the bar and sat either side of him at a long table covered in cloth. The Landlord responded to a certain knock at the door as the bar filled with local farmers and fishermen dressed in cloaks with headscare held by a yellow braid. When they all sat or stood on the other side of the table my guide called a meeting to order. Realising that if the Romans arrived we could all be gruesomely executed, I sat nervously realising the importance of this meeting. Realising I could get in trouble with the Time Lords, I used some recording equipment. You can see my recording here

Stay tuned for more adventures through history with Dr Quien

If you want to know more about Dr Quien and his amazing mission to travel through the past of the location of Fuengirola, you can find the introduction and previous installments here

Dr Quien’s Blog

Follow the rest of the website to find out more about Fuengirola before you get here.

And finally, if you want to be kept updated with future episodes and other revelations and inspirations from the past of the location of Fuengirola please like, comment and share my Facebook page at Fuengirola RevisitedFuengirola Revisited.

Dr Quien’s Blog number 5. What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?

It was A.D. 25, the location that is now Fuengirola was enjoying the best of times, with lands farmed, mined and quarried while fish were caught, salted and exported. Rome provided everything, trade, laws, boats, roads, language and most of all, protection. After centuries of loyal service Suel is about to become the Roman Municipality of Suel. The deal is quite simple, the town pays taxes to Rome and gets a local council.

Today’s time traveling blog takes a trip back to the day when a new standard of political leadership came to this location, perhaps the birth of our local authority. The day Fuengirola became a municipality of Rome.

“Authors Note; if you are new to Dr Quien, and his time travelling mission to explore the past of Fuengirola, you may like to start at the beginning https://fuengirolarevisited.com/dr-quiens-blog/ “
But do continue reading, love, like and shere…..

Back to the story..
My boat arrives on the beach in front of what is now the Hotel Yaramar in the year A.D. 25, early morning in the Summer. The Roman world is full of chroniclers and so, with my instant language brain implant, I can find some useful information on what may be an important day in the history of our town.

Instead of heading for the tower where the action is, I head for the hill where the Bull would stand 2000 years later. The Rio Pajares was so wide that to continue along the beach I needed a boatman and right on time, he appeared. A tall man, almost bald with an engaging manner that combined with a laconic sarcasm that was sort of, well, funny. As we crossed the river, he told me about the resident of the nearest buildings. The ‘Secretary’ is the richest and most important man in town, he lives in a grand villa just behind those tree’s and has a huge bathhouse. For the last few days dignitaries have been arriving from the big cities of Malaga, Sevilla and even Rome to bestow this great honour on Suel. The Secretary is extending his hospitality and the 50 guest suites in his villa are full with visitors bedecked in the grandest toga’s lined with jewels followed by officials, servants and guards.

He goes on to tell me that his business as a ferryman is suffering because today the Romans are opening the redeveloped road with new wooden bridges across each of the town’s rivers. This road will link the whole of the South Eastern corner of the Roman Empire (although half of it falls into the sea every decade or so, but today they are happy). He proceeds to tell me more local gossip, the one about using the bath house for Romans to breed with local women and create a new race, but it seemed a bit far-fetched.

My guide seemed to be an intelligent man with a strong local knowledge, he seemed strangely familiar which you will later discover. When he asked if I needed a guide on my visit, I instantly agreed.

We headed for the hill to get a view of the area from where the bull stands today. As roads and railways had not yet made the front face of the hill vertical we were able to climb to the top from the front. At the top, the sight was breathtaking. The beaches were a little further back than they are now, the mouth of the rivers wider and deep enough for water to flow. Most of the line from the top of the beach to about the level of the modern train line, was a swamp with tall reeds growing in it. My guide showed me where parts of the swamp had been drained and turned into farmland. He was against this, reasoning that the farmland would become stable and built on, thousands of people would live there and we would have lost a good swamp and disturb the wildlife. This he explained, was typical of the troubles that these Romans will bring to this land. In all of my conversations he repeatedly asked the question, “what have the Romans done for us?”

Looking down from this great height at the beaches, fishing boats with oars and small sails lined the top of the beach, many were starting out on their mornings fishing to get food for the celebrations tonight. He pointed to the south bank of the Rio Pajares and mentioned he had an appointment there tonight.

Looking across the land with the morning sun shining on it, I could see the castle site with one tower and a number of buildings nearby. White painted homes made of rock or wood lined the river banks. The river beside the castle has a port and the sea entrance 500 metres wide. It housed a flotilla of small ships that had bought dignitaries for the celebrations. The modern railway was positioned where it is, because it is at the top of the flat land, west of the track and the land rises on a rock bed and the east was a swamp. For this reason, the new Roman road ran along this line with ‘strip development’ of small wood and stone houses where people could live on solid ground rather than marshes. My guide told me that since the Romans arrived people have come from everywhere to live in Suel. As my eyes ran back along the road, I came to our current position, looked down and saw the most amazing villa below my feet. All that survives in the modern day are the bathhouses; a road is driven through the rest, and where now sits an empty field is a huge mansion with at least twenty buildings behind to service it, house, servants and troops.

The entire hill behind me and everywhere I could see, was filled with deep green vines. My guide pointed to the white scars in the hill, the material facts are here, they extract marble from those mountains and make wine from the grapes. They carry it down these rivers and the Secretary’s men collect the taxes on everything that moves. Bronze, grain and some tin from the interior mostly go through the castle. This is where the expensive goods are and doubtless why the secretary has this palace here.

As we stood gazing at the wonder of it all, we saw some boats leave the river in front of us to sail, or row the flat sea, to take the dignitaries to the Castle. Another large group followed the new road and over the new wooden bridges which led to the Castle.

My guide suggested that we leave them on the main road and follow the beach to the castle. He found a small boat and we crossed the Rio Pajares down river from the palace of the Secretary.

The morning sun was shining at us and my guide suggested that we call into the bar just past the Rio Pajares, funny enough it is about where @Hutchys bar is now. We were let in with a special knock at the door. The landlord, Sam, a foreigner from somewhere, let us in, his first clients of the day, he knew my guide and it all seemed very comfortable. It was a stone building, with cracked walls decorated with hanging white and patterned blankets. He said we looked thirsty, and suggested a drink. red or white says he, red says my guide, from the Sirah grape from our local hills, none of that imported stuff for us.

As we talked and the wine slipped back, he told me about life under Roman rule. It was a process of industrialisation, prior to their presence, it was subsistence farming, enough for people to eat and share some. The people were drumming, dancing and dreaming, then Rome arrived, things were written down, records kept, productivity increased, wealth extracted and long working days became the norm. Resistance is met with unspeakable brutality and very few privileges or opportunities exist for the non latin speaker. Sam bought us lunch, the wine was constantly refreshed and my guide continued to tell me stories of life in Roman Suel. At some time, I remembered that I had intended to be at the ceremony beside the Castle and reminded my guide that we were late.

He looked at me and said “do you honestly think it worth hearing more politicians make more speeches about how much more they are doing and how we, the people, are so lucky because we do the work and they take the money. Take today’s festivities if you will, we have become a ‘Municipum’ of Rome. It means that the residents of Suel are allowed to pay taxes to Rome, in exchange for protection. What I really want to know is, he repeated to me for the umpteenth time, ‘what have the Romans ever done for us?”

All of these long and intricate explanations had not mixed well and, after a siesta, my guide woke me up with a fresh cup of wine and the stories continued, most had an anti Roman theme. It continued through the afternoon and the same question was asked again and again, “what have the Romans ever done for us?” Toward the evening, 2 other men were let in the bar and sat either side of him at a long table covered in cloth. The Landlord responded to a certain knock at the door as the bar filled with local farmers and fishermen dressed in cloaks with headscare held by a yellow braid. When they all sat or stood on the other side of the table my guide called a meeting to order. Realising that if the Romans arrived we could all be gruesomely executed, I sat nervously realising the importance of this meeting. Realising I could get in trouble with the Time Lords, I used some recording equipment. You can see my recording here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djZkTnJnLR0

Stay tuned for more adventures through history with Dr Quien

Follow the rest of the website to find out more about Fuengirola before you get here.

And finally if you want to be kept updated with future episodes and other revelations and inspirations from the past of the location of Fuengirola please like, comment and share my Facebook page at Fuengirola Revisited.

The Italian Connection

My plan today is to get to the origin of the ‘Italian Takeover’ of Spain.  My research tells me that this goes back before Piza Houses, before Spain signed the treaty of ‘Rome’ in 1985, before the Church in Rome organised armies to expel the Moors from 710 to 1492, and even before Roman armies backed the Byzantine in 586.  The root of Spain being run by the capital of Italy was in 220 B.C. when the expanding Roman empire began a process that would eventually take the whole Iberian Peninsula.

So today I travelled in my boat from the position in front of the Yaramar.  The fields and hills are green, the land further back has been farmed and each of the 5 rivers has some settlement.  The Rio Real is a huge inlet that goes in as far as the position of the current Palacio de la Paz at the end of the Feria Ground.  Further in there are pathways and I follow these to the tower where the Castle would soon be built.    

In a long hall beside the tower a meeting is taking place between the tribal elders of Sylas and the Italian gentlemen representing the newly installed power in Malaga.  A contubernium or eight Legionaries accompanied them and a centuria of one hundred more waited outside the town accompanied by two hundred armed foriegn conscript soldiers responsible for logistics and keeping the Legionaries armour shining. 

In the great hall about a hundred or so locals had come to hear the ‘news that would affect their future’.  Of course they had heard the rumours from passing sailors, the invasion 2 years earlier, the battles where untrained farmers were sent to face the world’s mightiest army.  They knew that the fighting had ended long before they got to Malaga which had been adopted as their main port, they had heard stories from refugees of the way they had dealt with opposition.    

The chief Italian diplomat addressed the translator.  

Let’s not waste time, he said, we got an offer that you can’t refuse, so listen carefully or you could spend the rest of your lives rowing a galley?  

We are from a place called Rome which is becoming the largest empire the world has yet seen.  As part of our territorial expansion we have realised the strategic value of the Iberian Peninsula and are willing to let all of its inhabitants stay alive, in return for committed allegiance to Rome.  

“Your particular location is suited to our strategic plans.  We aim to create a road along the coast that will carry armies and goods to and from our country.  We will be sailing the Coastal route and the mouth of the river will be rebuilt as a port.   We have discovered marble in these hills, it’s our favourite building material and will be making a port on the 4th river down from here.  We will also build a finca for the trade secretary to collect money on our behalf on all products and especially before the marble leaves the river.  And, because it sounds cool Italian and trendy, we’re gonna call it Suel.  As our 2 great countries become 1, this town of yours will bear fruit for thousands of years, the Font upon which our Castle will be built will be known throughout the world for thousands of years.” 

Following a few more kind words, I decided I had heard enough and left, the rest, as they say,’ is history’, which I hope you will revisit with me in this column over the coming year….. 

When I arrived back in my time travelling boat at the front of Hotel Yaramar Playa, someone looked at me, like he recognised me and said, buenas tardes, I greeted him cautiously and thought, how would he know about a tardis? 

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Follow the rest of the website to find out more about Fuengirola before you got h ere.  

And finally if you want to be kept updated with future episodes and other revelations and inspirations from the past of the location of Fuengirola please like, comment and share my Facebook page at Fuengirola Revisited

Hecataeus of Miletus

Did you ever wonder who was the first person known to have written about Fuengirola and did you stay awake in geography lessons at school? If yes to both read on.  Because this week Dr Quien has set his time travel coordinates to around 500 BC to meet Hecataus of Melita, the first known Greek historian, the father of modern geography and the first person known to have written about the location of Fuengirola.   

“Welcome to my report from Syalis, my time traveling signature white boat with a blue cover has remained on the beach at Los Boliches and traveled back in time to around 500 B.C.  Two things I should mention about my time travel technology, is that I have the augmented electronic abilities that allow me to speak in any language, like an advanced version of the ‘translate’ app on your phone.  The relevance of this to my role as a fake news reporter is that I am able to interview people from everywhere and anytime, which I will do occasionally through this series.  

My interview today is none other than Hecataeus of Melita, a serious historical character, the first known Greek historian and the ‘father’ of modern geography.  If history and geography bore you, don’t go, you’re not alone, but my man Hecataus is fun, and (to keep you awake)  we are going to learn a little about the meaning of some obscure 1980’s music. 

Having arrived in Syalis around 500, B.C. I walked the beach and crossed the rivers until I got to the location of the current castle where a single lookout tower built by the Phoenicians a couple of hundred years before still stood.   Hecataeus of Melita was on his journey and when I asked him for an interview, he invited me for a drink.  The night was a whirl as we drank copious amounts of the local white wine and ate wild boar with a range of vegetables in the old Phoenician quarter of town.   The Phoenicians left seventy five years ago, the whole of this part of Spain is under local rule with the protection of the Carthagens from Tunis in North Africa; the current dominant power in the Mediterranean.  Whilst the huge Carthagen trading ships and military escorts travel between the trading ports of Malaga and Cadiz, they have little need for the port of Syalis and mostly sail past it.  The infrastructure of the Phoenician town remains in use and the local tribes have built more wooden huts.  The town is not as colourful and industrious as it was; they still worship multiple deities and are a mix of cultures and races.  Cats are still in town and some wild dogs can be heard howling outside.      

As the night progressed, under the influence of the amazing local wine, Hecataeus explained the world to me and how it centered around the Carthagen sea.  He explained how they knew for certain the world was a flat disk because the North Star never moved.  Everything has an order and every person is ordained to play a role.  He told how his wealthy family had educated him to use the Greek alphabet that had been handed down to the Phoenicians and how he was writing a book of his journey.  He explained enthusiastically how the word Geo- is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘earth, ground or land’.  Another Greek word graph which means ‘to write’.  His plan was to write about his journeys and describe locations in relation to the ground that they occupy, from this he would make his new and exciting science of Geo-graphy that will be taught in academies across the entire Mediterranean.  While receiving possibly the first geography lesson in Spain and hearing about Egypt, Persia, Syria and places I didn’t know existed, we drank about 6 bottles of wine.  When it was all said, we agreed to get some rest and the next day he would walk along the river with me while I interviewed him for my news report.  

The next morning we both grossly overslept. It had been raining heavily and it was late afternoon when we left.  Neither of us were in fit condition for an interview, but he had to leave for The Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) so this is our last opportunity.  It had been raining and the river was in full flow.  We walked along the castle side of the river, past villas that had been converted to tribal huts.  Stones were rearranged by the tribal communities who lived beside the river.  Hecataeus did not speak much for the first hour of our walk, and gave short replies to my questions.  After a few kilometres we found a place to cross the freezing cold river and at the other side he emerged full of life and would not stop talking until we got back.  He told me everything, the secrets of the world, the location of treasures and the deepest wisdom of life.  It was very interesting, but due to my headache and his booming voice and the sound of the flowing river I could not really hear him properly.  He told me of another book he was writing about Greek Mythology.  The first lines of the book would be “I write what I deem true; for the stories of the Greeks are manifold and seem to me ridiculous.” He was particularly aiming his wroth at families who believed themselves descended from the gods.  

Much of what he talked about seemed abstract and about his opinions on the world in general.  As this was not the theme I had come to interview him about, when we were walking back along the North side of the river, I asked him his opinions on this location.  He enlightened me, he said, no one has yet understood the potential of this palace, look at that mountain and the huge south facing hills with soil, the water font at the base of the castle, underground springs, 5 rivers, flat planes with good soil, a natural harbour and shallow water for fish to breed.  He then explained another greek word, geo-politics, which results in the nice places like this becoming the property of larger more powerful ‘empires’.  As he said this, a bolt of lightning flashed across the sea, the early evening sky lit up, we exchanged looks that said without saying, ‘that was strange’.   He described the location as being strategic in the sea routes, it could support an army and had lookout points across the whole western coast of the world.  And that whilst it was only on a sea route now, the new invention of roads for armies, horses and carriages are being built all over the world and would one day make this an even more important location.  He went on, that in a world ruled by violence, strategic points would always be owned only by those who can defend them.  More lightning, darkness setting in and rain accompanied his chilling prophecy.  But then, his frown turned to a smile and he said, don’t worry, between the times of crises that a sick world will bring to this beautiful location, this special place will prosper for many thousands of years into the future; it really is an ideal location.  

We arrived back level with the tower (possibly the north east tower of the current Castle), below it the ragged hill and a boat on the river. As the boat drew closer we saw a hooded old man at the rudder, and then the lightning flashed.

When the Ferryman asked for a coin, Hecataeus refused to pay and with a dramatic gesture said, we will fix the price and I will pay when you get me to the other side.  As the rain came down a wild dog howled, Hecataeus became hesitant and ponderous.  He then asked me to translate a question to the ferryman; he wanted to know if the ferryman’s name was Charon, and if he were the son of Erebus and Nyx.  The ferryman assured him he was not, ‘tell him don’t worry Sir, we get a lot of Greeks on this crossing, I understand’.  In the rolling mist he got onboard, and said now there will be no turning back.  They set sail, I waved and watched him disembark safely and pay the Ferryman when they arrived on the other side.  As I walked back along the beach to my boat, crossing 2 rivers on the way, I set my brain sensor to find the most appropriate music, it came up with something from the 1980’s and jacked the volume….

To complete the story, you may like to do the same. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qg2T9qQZ8A

If you want to know more about Hecataeus of Melita, there is more on Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hecataeus_of_Miletus

If you want to know more about Dr Quien and his amazing mission to travel through the past of the location of Fuengirola, you can find the introduction and previous instalments here

And if you are super interested in the Phonecian and Carthegian period, the Fuengirola Historian Dr Juan Antonio Martín Ruiz has written extensively on this subject;

https://universidadviu.academia.edu/JuanAntonioMart%C3%ADnRuiz

And finally if you want to be kept updated with future episodes and other revelations and inspirations from the past of the location of Fuengirola please like, comment and share my Facebook page at Fuengirola Revisited.

The Height Of Phoneciean Civilization

Today we have a shocking report from our time-travelling correspondent Dr. Quien from the Midsummer celebrations around 100 years after the Phoenician founding of Syalis.
Good morning and welcome to the year 2600 B.C. on the Summer equinox that you celebrate on the 21st June. On the site of the ‘modern’ castle, there is a tower with foundations built into the rock, which I climbed to get a better view of the celebrations.

As I look out to sea, to my left the site of the modern town center is a marsh and the town’s other 4 rivers meet the sea with much wider mouths and the beach is back about 100 meters from the current shoreline. The Rio Real is a large inlet that covers all of the modern-day feria ground. The Rio Fuengirola is five hundred metres wide with a harbour wall built on both sides. There are around twenty large ships in the bay and many smaller fishing and supply vessels, the largest ships can carry up to four hundred tons. Behind me, the river is dredged to a level below the sea and flows inland for at least 3 kilometres. The river is quiet today, all the boats are at anchor and the usually busy quays are deserted.

To my right, I see the town of around five hundred long, square stone homes decorated with red stones. This is the height of summer and the size of the town has been increased by visitors with tents, awnings and coverings of every style and colour.

The town flows from the site of the castle and down to the site of the current IPV Palace, back along the current road and up the hill. The grandest houses line the river and many of the nearby hills had had their tops flattened to provide homes or viewing points. The biggest shock is the ‘salad bowl’ of colour, stones, houses, clothes, tents and people in the widest display with every hue of the rainbow. There are cats and dogs, well-fed and docile, guarding the houses and prowling the streets. A stage had been erected on the site of the current Mare Nostrum stage (strangely enough) and a crowd of over a thousand men, women and children gathered around it.

The event started with a speech…
“You’ve never had it so good”, shouted the Phoenician Mayor. “Bronze and copper are mined from across this land and carried here to Sylias to be shipped to our great capitals of Tyre and Sidon. Our endless supply of labour has cleared the rivers and made the land fit to grow food. The rivers now run and irrigate the land, the mountainsides are full of our grapes, the flat land yields crops and food comes from all of the peninsula to this spot…” He spoke for about half an hour, taking personal credit for most of the things that went right in the town while his voice was occasionally drowned by cheering.

After a break, and as the sun was going down the stage was set for a religious service with an altar at the center. My suspicions should have been aroused when I saw the ceramic vases around the edges of the altar and the shackles at each corner. The service began at sundown with the usual evocations to the multiple Gods of places, people and things while the atmosphere thickened with a thousand people chanting and with the smoke of incense.

There were some people in a cage beside the stage, I had innocently thought this was to get a better view, how wrong I was. It was when an assistant priest brought one of these people to the altar that I realised that something much darker was occurring. Before it got any darker, I decided I should leave, this is not something I wanted to see. With everyone else’s attention transfixed, I climbed down the tower, walked to my time travelling boat waiting 2 kilometers up the beach. The white boat with a blue canvas was waiting, I climbed in, set the coordinates for 21st June 2021 and went to sleep in one of the vast cabins. This has to be a lesson, that the past is not always ‘nice’ and like any of the horrific events set in this place since then, they will be safer viewed from a greater historical distance. A beer on the beach in modern Fuengirola has never seemed like a better prospect.

Invasion from Syria

Fuengirola taken over by people from Syria and Lebanon.

Today we have an exclusive report from 707 B.C. brought to you by the fake news Fuengirola Times, time traveling correspondent, Dr Quien.  It concerns the occupation of Fuengirola by people from Syria and Lebanon known as the ‘Phoenicians’. 

Today in a dramatic move the Traders and Warriors from Syria and Lebanon, who have been traveling between the new cities of Malaga and Cadiz for decades, have announced that they will be making a settlement right here.   It will be called Sylas, the name they say, means the one who will come in future.   

A celebration banquet given by the Phoenicians and attended by dignitaries from Malaga and Cadiz along with representatives of the local tribes who had recently signed a trade agreement.  Wine flowed and the tables protested under the weight of the food with around a hundred people listening to speeches followed by dancing and music.  

In the first speech the Chieftain of the local tribes welcomed the Phoenicians, apologized to their army and agreed that it would be best for everyone if they worked together in future.  He thanked them for bringing the new mining methods to extract iron and bronze and for choosing this location as the port for the vast inland mining operations.  Finally, he thanked them for introducing the vine from Syria and welcomed the ambitious plan to plant the entire south facing slope of the mountain with them.  

Then the Chief of the Phoenician’s army gave a speech, he started by apologising for the number of resistors killed over a slow process of intrusion.  “We had to be ready so that when the time came that the Empire needed this location, we would be welcomed.”  He pointed out that this location was strategic for his bosses in Tyre and Sidon and like it or not, will never be the same again.  “This huge rock plato at the mouth of the river will be an amazing place to build a castle from which we can view the entire Western Mediterranean”.  

Finally, the  Phoenician minister for overseas trade made a speech in which he praised the location.  “The bay by the Castle has a natural harbour that allows ships, on the coastal route, to shelter from storms and stop to trade.  On the road, it is a natural stopover at the halfway point between Malaga and Marbella, each around 8 hours walk or half that on a horse. The sea in front of the town is a rich breeding ground for fish, the rich fertile plain with 5 rivers running through it makes it the perfect place to farm and settle.  Bronze, iron and silver extracted from the interior would make Sylas a new and exciting town of trade, food and accommodation“  To rapturous applause, he said that “today the foundation stones of a new and impenetrable castle will continue to support it in 3,000 years.”