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Benahavis is a Spanish mountain village situated between Marbella, Estepona, and Ronda, where it is located seven kilometers from the coast. Renowned for its restaurants, it is often called the dining room of the Costa del Sol. Benahavis holds nine of the 60 golf courses in the Costa del Sol; this number is expected to increase, again, to fifteen in the next decade.

Located on the southern face of La Serrania de Ronda mountain range, Benahavis is one of the most mountainous village on the western Costa del Sol. Benahavis is situated near the beaches of the Costa del Sol and spectacular mountains of the Serrania de Ronda. Its terrain is traversed by the Rivers Guadalmina, Guadaiza, and Guadalmanza. Regions of great natural and historic interest are to be found within its boundaries, such as El Cerro del Duque, Daidin, and the Montemayor Castle.

The town itself is surrounded by natural parkland, and, as such, retains a modicum of its secluded, cosy feel. La Zagaleta, a highly exclusive mansion club which contributes to Benahavis' status as the richest municipality per capita in Andalucía, lies within its boundaries, and overlooks the village.

During the late 1990s, the Junta de Andalucia constructed a dam on the site of an old marble quarry, meaning that for much of the year, the once ever-flowing Rio Guadalmina is merely a dried-up river bed.

History

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At the end of the 11th century, Benahavis was founded by Arabs. Closely related with 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 Arab 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 underground passageways connecting it with the coast, large enough to take a man on horseback, through which the Arabs were able to move soldiers, food and weapons. Indeed in the 1960s a lorry broke through the roof of one of these in the town's main square.

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