The first indication of its Al-Andalus legacy is the name. Benahavíscomes from the Arabic “Bin al Havis“, meaning “son of Havis, an 11th-century Moorish prince who ruled in Montemayor Castle.
Tucked between the sea and mountains, Benahavis village stands at 500 metres above sea level, and has more mountains than any other region in Western Costa del Sol. It is located just 60 km from Malaga and Gibraltar airports, 15 minutes from Puerto Banús and Marbella. To some, Benahavis has it all – sea and mountain views, wonderful hiking trails on its doorstep, championship golf courses and gourmet restaurants within reach. Its lofty vantage point affords endless panoramic views of the coastline and even the northern coast of Africa.
The village has remained remarkably unspoiled, with winding narrow streets ill-suited to a car. The alleyways, restaurants and baroque patios filled with pots of colourful flowers lend a postcard-worthy quaintness. The village might be small, but the municipality itself is large. Bounded by Marbella, Istan and Estepona, the municipality of Benahavis comprises 6 districts: Benahavis village, Artola, La Zagaleta, Montemayor, Alqueria-el Paraiso and Parque Botanico. It is crossed by three rivers originating in the Ronda mountains —the Guadalmedina, the Guadalmansa and the Guadaiza. Benahavis hosts a thriving expat community that coexist contentedly with the locals -of the approximate 8,000 residents, 60% are foreign-born.
Boasting some of the most luxurious developments in Spain, such as La Zagaleta and La Quinta, the municipality has the highest average income per capita in the province of Malaga. Yet despite being a playground for the rich, the municipality has the lowest property tax in the country. Its Town Hall has very deep pockets, which means that residents enjoy all sorts of subsidies, not available in other parts of the country. Registration on the municipal census (padron) gives you access to free language lessons, art classes and a variety of sports such as football and paddle. And, crime is kept at bay thanks to the installation of surveillance camera system at strategic points.
Monuments & Cultural Heritage: Centuries of Moorish rule have left their mark on Benahavis, throughout which vestiges of their Arab past abound, not only in the names of the rivers that cross it and the layout of the village itself, but in the monuments. This includes the 10th-century Monte Mayor Castle, with the Queen’s Tower still largely intact. There are also several watch towers, one of them, La Leonera Tower is in the Parque de las Leoneras, close to the roundabout at the entrance of the village. Tramores and Daidín Towers are some of the other towers still standing in the town. The Benahavis coat of arms reflects the importance of these towers: Montemayor castle surrounded by its five defence towers -Tramores, la Leonera, Campanillas, Esteril and Daidin. Although the Benahavis Palace -the offices of the Town Hall- was built in the 16th century, it takes its inspiration from the Nasrid dynasty.