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About Aguilas

Aguilas is situated in South Eastern Spain, 103 kms. from Murcia. It covers a surface area of 253,7 kms2. The town is bathed by the Mediterranean sea along 28 kms. of lovely coastline, and it is backed inland by high mountain ranges creating a very abrupt and uneven terrain.With it’s rich, clean natural environment, Aguilas enjoys an exceptional micro-climate, with an average annual temperature of 25 centigrade.This makes Aguilas a wonderful place for winter tourism.

Visitors to Aguilas will be captivated by its clear blue skies, excellent climate and natural beauty. They will be amazed at it’s unspoilt secluded beaches. The area’s inhabitants are as warm and friendly as the climate; hospitable and affectionate.

You will find a good variety of outdoor activities at Aguilas, from climbing or hiking through areas of splendid beauty, to diving in warm waters abounding with magnificent fish and vegetation. Culturally, Aguilas offers art exhibits, conferences, concerts, theatre and much much more. Aguilas is also home to the Universidad del Mar (University of the Sea). The Carnival de Aguilas (Carnival of Aguilas) has been celebrated for the past 200 years and offers creative costumes of all shapes and colours. The entire town is out on the streets and offers one of the largest shows in Spain.

History

Águilas was once known in Roman times as Aquilae and later Aquila, and belonged to the community of Bastetania and the province of Tarraconense. The Alans, the Suebi and the Visigoths were amongst various civilisations which settled in Águilas. Águilas formed part of Spanish Carthage until the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Belonging originally to the Córdoban caliphate and the Kingdom of Valencia, it later came under Almoravidan control and finally ended up part of the Kingdom of Murcia in the 18th Century.

A vast British colony arrived at the town during the second half of the 19th Century, and there is a definite british presence still lingering in Águilas. Many of the British diverse buildings and infrastructure still stand, such as the British cemetery, the municipal annexe and the Hornillo Pier facing the Isle of Fraile. Also the old house of an English merchant situated on that island.

The town is now as it was originally designed by Charles III in the 18th Century. A particular landmark is the Castle of Saint John of Águilas, which was used as a defence tower by various different civilisations who settled there throughout history. The city was extended by the construction of its sister port, maritime walks and its serene 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. Owing to the great investment by the British during the Restoration, a route was laid between Lorca, Baza and Águilas in order to transport esparto or the other exported minerals. This made the town one of the principal ports of the Mediterranean. During this period the Hornillo Pier was constructed. The pier is a great architectural work of the time made of iron and concrete.

Today, the local economy relies principally on tourism and the intensive agriculture of greenhouse vegetables. The construction of various luxury residential and hotel complexes is planned, primarily aimed at foreigners and wealthy domestic purchasers. The creation 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 planned construction of golf complexes, has generated much hostility amongst ecological, agricultural and neighbourhood resident groups. However, the bulk of citizens of the municipality have accepted the proposals without protest. In November 2005 the issue escalated with the resignation of a Partido Popular member (close advisor to Mayor Juan Ramírez Soto) due to financial interests in La Zerrichera. This period also saw the expulsion from the Partio Socialista Obrero Español 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 has been categorised “by accident”.

Another major problem suffered by the town is its political instability, caused by a strange boom in regional political parties during the mid-1990s (there were no less than three in the 2003 elections) and by political defections.