Costa del Sol. However, its first inhabitants date back to the 15th century, when Henri IV of Castile conquered the region. He built the Saint Louis castle, the remains of which you can still see today. Later, the coast was fortified with new crenellated towers, one of the distinctive elements on the coast of Estepona, which strengthened the defence against the frequent attacks by Berber pirates.
Estepona gained its independence from the jurisdiction of Marbella in 1729. The city's largest monument is the Church of the Virgen de los Remedios (18th century) which combines Baroque and Colonial styles. Other places to see are the Torre del Reloj, various houses and palaces like that of the Marquis de Mondéjar and the Plaza de Toros, an arena that is characterised by its asymmetrical layout. Though it is true that Estepona does not have a rich history, it is nonetheless a pleasant little town of narrow streets, lined with whitewashed houses, where you can take a stroll and visit the lovely t own square of Plaza de las Flores.
All the elements necessary to enjoy a pleasant seaside holiday are here: 12 miles of coastline lined with beaches and hotels, a major marina and fishing port, a golf course, a scuba diving club, plus a lively nightlife.
Near the city there are two amusement parks: Selwopark (a safari in an animal park) and Prado World (a park with water activities). The most curious tourists or British crown devotees should have a quick look at the legendary rock of Gibraltar, located just 27 miles away. Finally, many agencies offer tours across the Mediterranean Sea to travel to Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla.
If you arrive between the 3rd and 10th of July, don't miss some of the biggest festivities of the year. On the 16th of July, local people celebrate the Virgen del Carmen with a magnificent maritime procession.
Estepona is a good starting point if you want to travel along the route of the white villages starting from Arcos de la Frontera and finishing in Ronda. From Estepona, you can also go on more remote excursions to better discover Andalusia through the main cities of Seville, Cordoba, Granada or Malaga.
Surface area : 33,700 sq mi km2
Population : 8,300,000 inhabitants
Time difference : GMT + 1
Apart from the main sites of interest in the old district (the castle's ruins, the Plaza de las Flores and the church of the Virgen de los Remedios), you may quickly tire of the old fortifications in Estepona so don't hesitate to go on excursions to the beautiful surrounding areas.
Although the scenery is breathtaking from the top of the famous Rock of Gibraltar, near Estepona, the aerial tramway will cost you a hefty 13.50 euros (£10) per adult return ticket. This price includes a visit to the monkey park. The view from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar spans the villages of Ronda, Benalauria and Frigiliana.
Taste the goat's cheese made from the goat's milk from Estepona; this breed has won several distinction awards.
Among the local crafts of Estepona, you will find pottery, marble statuettes, wrought iron items, cushions and wallpaper.
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