Duquesa Watchtower – Manilva
La Torre de la Duquesa was built between 1497 and 1501, by order of the Catholics King after the territories between Casares and Marbella were conquered, and after Ronda conquest (1485). Before the construction of the tower, this stretch of the coast was undefended against pirate attacks, although it was not uninhabited. The archeologist excavation found remains from a Neolithic town and an Almohade graveyard.
All the parts conserved belong to the first body of the tower, which was solid. Its structure and external wall with rendered surfaces. Only a small rendered surface remains though. The main part of the ashlars found on the tower might come from some ruined edification from the Roman ages, possibly from the Castillo de la Duquesa. The rest of the walls were built with sandstone and limestone filled with small ceramic pieces such as broken bricks and roofing tiles. The layer between the stone walls was filled with a mix of lime mortar.
The original construction should be very similar to the Torre del Duque (Marbella), with a second level were the guard room was. The tower´s access was through a rope ladder to a door elevated several meters above the ground. Although it was not common, this tower had a room next to its lower part since XVI century. Parts of its footings have been excavated and are conserved underground in the south east face.
The first name the tower received was Torre de Arroyos Dulces, because of the old name of the Arroyo Indiano. Very close to the tower there was in its day path belonging to the Via Augusta, the main trail system during the Roman and Muslim ages. The tower was part of the coast defensive system including several watchtowers as the Torre de Chullera and the Torre de la Sal. At the end, it was the reinforcement of this defensive system that ended this tower´s military use when the Castillo the Sabinillas was built a little bit further norths in 1767.
The Torre de la Duquesa was defending the coast more than 250 years. Its protective defense allowed circa 1530, the operation of the Ingenio Grande, a sugar producing factory which brought a good amount of laborers’ to the Arroyos Dulces meadow. These laborers’ settled in the Cortijo Hondón, the origins of Manilva town. We can conclude that the Torre de la Duquesa was the origin of the Manilva town.
The tower was still mentioned in 1857 in military documents, although it was already ruined. In the late XIX century and early XX, the tower become part of a new farm building which received its original name: the Cortijo de la Duquesa. The owners of this country Estate reused the stone in its walls, demolishing the upper part and building in its place a new room. These walls remained integrated in the new building after the building became the Camping Chullera III restaurant in 1970. Nowadays the tower has been restored so everybody can enjoy it, and it has been studied with archeologist methodology and restore for its conservation and protection.