Águilas (Spanish: [ˈaɣilas], locally [ˈaɣilæʰ]) is a municipality and seaport of southeastern Spain, in the province of Murcia. It is situated at the southern end of Murcia's Mediterranean coastline, otherwise known as the Costa Cálida, near the border with the Province of Almería.
|Autonomous community||Region of Murcia|
|• Mayor||Mari Carmen Moreno (PSOE)|
|• Total||251.77 km2 (97.21 sq mi)|
|• Density||140/km2 (360/sq mi)|
|Area code(s)||968 and 868|
Location and geographyEdit
The municipality has an area of approximately 253.7 km², with some 28 km of coastline. It is 105 km from the provincial capital, Murcia.
Águilas is built on the landward side of a small peninsula, between two bays—the Puerto Poniente, a good harbour, on the south-west, and the Puerto Levante, which is somewhat dangerous to shipping in rough weather, on the north-east.
Águilas houses numerous beaches, including Cala de la Cueva de las Palomas, Cala de la Herradura, Playa Amarilla, Playa de Calabardina, Playa de Calacerrada, Playa de Cope, Playa de la Cañada del Negro, Playa de la Casica Verde, Playa de la Cola, Playa de la Colonia, Playa de la Galera, Playa de la Higuerica, Playa de la Rambla Elena, Playa de las Pulgas, Playa de los Cocedores, Playa de Poniente, Playa del Arroz and Playa del Barranco de la Mar.
Three kilometres northeast of Aguilas is la Isla del Fraile (Monk Island), so named thanks to the similarity of the island's silhouette to a monk's hood. The island has a small rocky beach and a very steep geography. The top of the island gives way to a sudden drop down to the sea on the island's back side. The island was inhabited by the Romans, who used it to export fish byproducts to Rome in amphorae. The remains of a Roman wall are still visible, as are a couple of structures of the early 20th century built by an eccentric British lord who lived on the island and used it for contraband purposes.
Adjacent to the island, on the mainland, is la Playa Amarilla, which is the coastal delineation of La Isla del Fraile residential development. This property was initially developed by Dr. Antonio Sáez Jimenez with basic infrastructure, including the road as well as the planting of hundreds of trees, and was known as Playa Niagara through the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1970s, graves from the Roman era were discovered on the property's coast, facing the island.
Known in Roman times as Aquilae and later Aquila, Águilas belonged to the community of Bastetania and the province of Tarraconense. Various civilisations settled in Águilas, including the Alans, the Suebi and the Visigoths. It formed part of Spanish Carthage until the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. It was known to the Arabs as آقِلَة (Áqila). It has belonged to the Córdoban caliphate and the Kingdom of Valencia, later coming under Almoravidan control and finally ending up definitively included in the Kingdom of Murcia in the 18th century.
During the second half of the 19th century, a vast British colony arrived at the town, a definite presence of which still lingers in Águilas. Many of their diverse buildings and infrastructure still stand, such as the British cemetery, the municipal annexe, the Hornillo Pier, facing the Isle of Fraile, and the old house of an English merchant, situated on that island.
The town as it is now was designed by Charles III in the 18th century. Of particular note is the Castle of Saint John of Águilas, which was used as a defence tower by various civilisations who settled there throughout history. The city was extended by the construction of its sister port, maritime walks and its bays of Levante and Poniente. At the end stands the slender figure of the Chimenea de la Loma (Chimney on the Hill), a symbol of the mineral boom of the last century. During the Restoration, owing to the great investment by the British, a route was laid between Lorca, Baza and Águilas in order to transport esparto or the other exported minerals, making the town one of the principal ports of the Mediterranean. It is in this period that the Hornillo Pier, a great architectural work of the time made of iron and concrete, was constructed. In the 19th century it was connected by rail to Huércal-Overa; later rail connections were to Lorca and Murcia.
Today, the economy of the locality depends principally on summertime tourism by middle-class visitors and the intensive agriculture of greenhouse vegetables. The construction of various luxury residential and hotel complexes is planned, primarily aimed at foreigners and high-value domestic purchasers. The ubiquity of these new developments in locations designated as 'protected' by the European Union (for example, the Regional Park of Cabo Cope-Calnerge, or La Zerrichera) and the foreseeable construction of ancillary golf complexes, has generated much hostility amongst ecological, agricultural and neighbourhood resident groups, although the bulk of citizens of the municipality have accepted the proposals without protest. However, in November 2005, the issue escalated with the resignation of a Partido Popular member and close advisor to Mayor Juan Ramírez Soto due to financial interests in La Zerrichera, and the expulsion from the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party of four advisors for not attending the plenary session on the re-classification of the areas concerned. According to local newspaper La Verdad, the Mayor stated that these farms had been categorised "by accident".
Another major problem suffered by the town is its political instability, caused by a boom in regional political parties during the mid-1990s (there were no less than three in the 2003 elections).
A resident, Justo Cruz Rodríguez, was ruined in late 2013 by the change in policy of the government with respect to solar energy. The Zapatero government had passed a law offering attractive rates for solar energy, and guaranteed them for the next 25 years, and so he mortgaged his house, his father’s house and even his workshop to install half a dozen rows of solar panels in his father’s garden, with the idea of selling his excess electricity. The Rajoy government cut the solar subsidy, and so he now faces homelessness and bankruptcy.
The Spanish actor Francisco "Paco" Rabal, was born in Cuesta de Gos, a hamlet within the municipality of Águilas.
- Montcada i Reixac, Spain
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Águilas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Chisholm 1911.
- nytimes.com: "Spain’s Solar Pullback Threatens Pocketbooks" 5 Jan 2014