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Torremolinos, pioneer destination. We were the first: 10 reasons to confirm it

Torremolinos has been a pioneer in tourism, the forerunner of the Costa del Sol but also of many other things that you do not expect. In this blog we discover it for you and we assure you that you will be surprised.

First 5 star hotel in the province of Málaga

If there is something in which Torremolinos has been a pioneer throughout its history and where it has even been a standard bearer for the province of Malaga, than it is tourism. The first steps towards becoming the tourist mecca of the Costa del Sol were taken, almost without knowing it, by George Langworthy, a military man who acquired a police station in 1898 with his partner, Anne Margaret Roe, a building from 1763 that in his moment served to stop the attack of the pirates. They reconverted the construction transforming it into a residence with splendid gardens and viewpoints from which to glimpse the Bay. His partner’s death sank so much Langworthy in 1913 that he decided to volunteer to fight World War I. On his return to Torremolinos, he dedicated himself to helping the most disadvantaged. So much so, that in the locality it is known as the English of the peseta, since it was common for him to give a peseta to the fishermen when they could not go out to fish. But the donations along with the serious situation remained after the Great Depression, forced him at the end of the 1920s to convert his residence into a hotel. The Hotel Castillo de Santa Clara, which at the time became one of the first hotels on the coast. Among the hotel’s most illustrious visitors were Picasso, Dalí and the poet Luis Cernuda. The latter was inspired during his stay in the summer of 1928 to write the story El Indolente (The Sloth), which was set in Torremolinos at the time.
hotel pez espada

But in terms of tourism, this was not Torremolinos’ only achievement. And it is that in our city we have the first 5 star hotel of the province of Malaga, the Hotel Pez Espada, which was inaugurated in 1959. A hotel that has welcomed illustrious visitors such as Brigite Bardot, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly and Rainier de Monaco or Frank Sinatra for years.

sinatra en torremolinos

Frank Sinatra on his visit to Spain. Photo courtesy of Libertad Digital

First documented topless on the Costa del Sol

Among the illustrious visitors of Hotel Castillo de Santa Clara, we have mentioned the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. During his stay in Torremolinos, he was not alone, but accompanied his wife, Gala Eluard. As documented in the book The Drifters or Sons of Torremolinos, it was in May 1930 when the couple from Catalonia stayed there, having given Gala, on the advice of the doctor, to improve her seaside health. In the book by James A. Michener, the first documented topless in history is described as follows:

Gala Topless
tonys bar

On the left, Gala during her visit to Torremolinos. Photo courtesy of Diario SUR. On the right, Fernando Bayona, director of the EmerGenT scholarship, poses in front of the booth where the Tony’s bar is a remembered. Photo courtesy of Shangay.

First gay bar and first lesbian bar in Spain

Alternative tourist destination and if there is one bar that has largely influenced that spirit, it was Toni’s bar, the first gay bar in Spain, which opened in Pasaje Begoña in 1962. It was the origin of many others to come later.

The first considered lesbian bar in Spain was also opened in La Nogalera in 1968. Called Pourquoi pas?, which could be visited in Torremolinos until 2015. On hand with Fran Marion and Mayte Ducoup, little by little, it became an icon of the Torremolinos nightlife.

A few years after its opening, between 1971 and 1972, both locations were protagonists of the large police raid, where more than 140 people were arrested for being homosexuals.

Now these two bars are part of Torremolinos history. So much so that in 2016 Toni’s bar was re-created thanks to the first edition of the EmerGenT scholarship where the artist Yann Leto was responsible for recreation. In April 2018, the City Council also requested that the street where Toni’s Bar was for years to be declared a place of Historical Memory.

The first electric guitar to appear on the Costa del Sol

As Javier Ojeda tells in his book » A Malaga Pop Story «, we had to wait until 1959 to see the first electric guitar on the Costa del Sol. The feat was carried out by two mythical characters in the musical history of Torremolinos, Lee Setomer, owner of the El Mañana club, and Enrique Lozano, who at that time was the club’s bartender and who years later would form the group Los Íberos. It was, according to Lozano himself, in his autobiography a Gibson electric guitar and he was only 17 years old. Setomer brought it from a trip to the States.

First Chinese restaurant on the Costa del Sol

It dates back to 1962 as we see in this article in Diario SUR which came from the hand of Fok Hine, better known as Pablito, who endeared himself for his kindness and compassion on the streets of Torremolinos. The first of its establishments was in the Pasaje Begoña, followed by El Cantón in the Plaza de la Gamba Alegre. They say that Pablito was not only a pioneer in opening Chinese restaurants, but also opened the first super Chinese store on the Costa del Sol.

First 24-hour drugstore in Andalusia

Torremolinos also pioneered the opening of the first 24-hour drugstore in Andalusia. El Noche y Día is still in the same spot, at number 17 Calle Hoyo, and its retro touch has made it a place of worship, as Zeleb says.

noche y dia drugstore
museo tatuaje

On the left, photo of the Night and Day. Property of the Torremolinos Chic website. On the right, the El Templo museum. Photo property of the Repsol Guide.

First hippies who came to Spain

They were fleeing the Vietnam War and arrived with the first charter flights. According to the filmmaker Jaime Noguera, on hisStrambotic blog, together with José Luis Cabrera and Lutz Petry from the Torremolinos Chic Heritage Recovery website, the police kicked them out in high season and let them return in the autumn. And it is that during the sixties, according to what they say in Torremolinos Chic there was a kind of hippie school. The Fat Black Pussy Cat, the Figaro or the Tres Barriles ( Three Barrels ), the last one standing (calle de las Gitanillas), were some of the bars that welcomed Spain’s first hippies.

First tattoo museum: Museo El Templo

Open since 2001, you’ll find it in the Plaza de la Gamba Alegre, where Lucas, the crazy tattoo artist, can tell you thousands of anecdotes, since he started in this business in 1972. The aim in opening the museum was to educate the public about this noble art and in this unique museum you will find all kinds of old and modern utensils and books, as well as countless patterns and drawings.

First fan magazines from El País

Promoted by the success of the bands from Malaga in the eighties, with the group Danza Invisible as the biggest exponent, it was in Torremolinos where the first El País fan magazines were published.

First hotel to promote transsexual employment: Hotel Ritual

And Torremolinos is still a pioneer. In February 2018, the Andalusian chain Ritual Hoteles, owners of the largest gay-friendly hotel in Europe and the Andalusian Transsexual Association (ATA) signed the first agreement in Spain to give visibility to the group of transsexual people.

hotel ritual

Image of the Hotel Ritual. Photo owned by the hotel. 

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