Torremolinos is where it all started. Tourism had its early start in the 50s when the legendary hotel ‘Pez Espada’ began accomodating famous Hollywood movie stars. The popular actors of the time, such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Anthony Quinn, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and other celebrities, fell in love with the small fishing village with the good beaches and excellent climate. But also, they seemed to enjoy the quite liberal and bohemian atmosphere that quickly emerged in Torremolinos. This was during Franco’s rule, and certainly not normal to see American actresses dressed in bikinis, or having fun with drinks, dance and nightly parties. But a blind eye was turned to the excentric lifestyle of the famous – because the visitors were wealthy and good at spending pesetas – and all of a sudden money came flowing in to the little fishing community. The otherwise so strict authorities could easily see the advantage in the revenue of the many tourists, so they simply accepted the slightly extravagant and free lifestyle, that actually left its mark on Torremolinos – even today – and made the place into a pioneer in tourism on Costa del Sol.
Since then, Torremolinos has not stopped growing. Neither in population nor in visiting tourists. Later during the 60’s and 70’s, the Northern European charter guests, as well as the British, came to the city to enjoy the fine beaches of eg ‘Bajondillo’ or ‘La Carihuela’, which soon meant more hotels, better infrastructure and lots of new restaurants, bars and services for the many visitors.
Later, a building boom of private apartments began and Torremolinos grew even more. The visiting Europeans now came, not only on short hotel stays during holidays, but could easily see the advantage in either buying or hiring their own apartment and living under more private conditions. Having ones own private terrace, a personal kitchen and the freedom to live under more private conditions in ones own holiday apartment, has attracted many visitors to buy or hire their own house or apartment.
The once small and poor fishing village is today a vibrant destination and a municipality with about 70,000 inhabitants. Torremolinos is today one of the most visited places on the Costa del Sol, and it is still due to the good beaches that meanders along the Mediterranean, the beautiful and always well-kept beach promenade that inspires walks along the sea or visits to the small cozy restaurants and beach bars – ‘Los Chiringuitos’.
From the beach small, winding streets lead up to the city center – which is located high above beach and overlooking the sea. The center of Torremolinos offers everything the heart, soul and palate can ask for, with extensive venue of restaurants, bars, nightlife, shopping streets and small cozy cafes. There are plenty of cultural activities – the city’s municipality is doing a good job at arranging various events and festivals, offering music, gastronomy, city parties, markets, processions and exhibitions. Torremolinos is an active city all year round.
Behind the city center lies the older and more local Torremolinos, with eg. the district ‘El Calvario’. A very charming part of the city, where the local Spaniards have their everyday life, with small cafes and local shops, without so much fuss or glamor. Here life goes on, in quiet Spanish pace, a place that is a pleasure to explore if you are interested in life in Spanish. Just taking a seat in a local café, having a drink or a tapas – and passing a moment of time watching the local life pass by, is a great way to see Spain.
Torremolinos is the ‘veteran’ of tourist destinations on the Costa del Sol, and is therefore also very varied in its appearance and range of attractions. It’s not all new constructions in steel and glass, but indeed also older, charming architecture and cozy streets, mixed with newer boulevards, pedestrian streets and attractions for the visitor. Torremolinos is a city that exudes both patina and nostalgia – but at the same time has been able to renewe and modernize its facilities – and still manages to welcome many new visitors.