The history of Benahavis starts at the end of the XIth century, when the Arabs founded the town. Closely related with the 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 Arabs 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 an underground passageway connecting it with the coast, through which the Arabs were able to transport soldiers.