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Municipality of Cártama (Andalusia, Spain)

Málaga Province

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Cártama (Málaga, Andalusia, Spain)]
image by Blas Delgado and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 Oct 2005

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Basic data:

Size: 105 Km²
Population: 13,486
Residents known as: Cartameños
Monuments: Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, bridge and aqueduct, natural surroundings.
Geographic location: In the Guadalhorce Valley, 21 kilometres from Malaga, at 259 metres above sea level.
Tourist information: Town Hall, Plaza de la Constitución, 3. 29570.
Phone: 952 422 126
Fax: 952 422 349

Cártama is one of the most historically important municipalities in the Guadalhorce region, and one of the biggest, with its population spread over an area of 105 square kilometres in two twin towns: Cártama Pueblo and Cártama Estación. There are, besides, nine other smaller urban areas. Its archaeolgical sites are among the best in the province, with fragments of ceramics, metals, walls, Roman coins and columns having been discovered. And watching over the different settlements through the centuries is the ancient castle fortress of Cártama. When the Phoenicians arrived at what is now the town, they found a small fortress inhabited by the Iberians, situated on top of the Cerro de la Virgen hill. Both peoples lived side by side for some time, establishing a factory in the La Vega and La Sierra area for the production of agricultural products of the region. For their mutual protection, they reconstructed the fortress and called the place Carth-Ma, meaning "Hidden town and mother."

This was seized by the Roman consul Marco Poncio Catón in the year 195 B.C., who, once installed in the town, rebuilt the castle and fortified it, extending the building towards the mountainside. The Visigoths carried out later reconstruction work on it, but it was during the Moorish occupation that it achieved most importance. The shifting Moorish military and political situation was witness to crucial economic and social change in the area, and in the Nazari period the castle became of vital importance for the social and political life of the entire region. The aspect it would have had at this time would have been very like the castle in álora, with little decoration but strongly built to withstand attack. But the Christians did indeed attack successfully in 1485. The defenders held out for quite some time, and the Christians were unable to break through the thick walls. But they were forced to surrender in that same year and the Moorish period in Cártama thus came to an end.

King Fernando and his officers, conscious of the military importance of the building for the conquest of Ronda and Malaga, moved in and began further reconstruction work. A meeting of the Council of Nobles was held in the building, and from there the conquest of Malaga was planned. After the fall of Granada the castle lay more or less unused until the War of Independence, when it was the scene of an attack against the French troops that had taken refuge there following the General Ballesteros siege. The present building carries the scars of much military action over the centuries.

Blas Delgado, 16 Oct 2005