A red, Arabic-style fortress that looks straight from a movie set sits conspicuously by the promenade on the Benalmádena seafront; this is Bil Bil Castle or el Castillo de Bil-Bil.
This is no ancient castle; it was built in the 20th century, begun in 1927 and completed in 1934. Designed to be a family home for wealthy couple Leon and Fernanda Hermann, they never actually got to live there due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War two years later.
Benalmádena town hall now use the castle as a cultural centre staging exhibitions, concerts, conferences and civic activities.
As well as wonderful sea views across to North Africa, the attractive building has decorative tiling, feature arches and an inner courtyard with fountains. Perhaps not surprisingly it has become one of the most requested venues for civil wedding celebrations in the province of Malaga.
Story has it that the project was originally devised by a husband for a bride who was homesick for her Moroccan homeland, a romantic motive that brings to mind another more incredible and monumental Islamic fortress: the Alhambra Palace at Granada, where the beautiful Patio of the Cypresses was dedicated to Sultan Abu L’Hasan Ali’s favourite wife Zoraya.
Visitors are free to roam the castle, though not in beachwear attire, and while in castle terms it is small fry, rooms furnished with art and the cool interior garden are a pleasant experience as part of a seafront stroll. It is also worth checking out the programme of events taking place there. Opening hours are similar to those of Spanish shops i.e. morning and early evening, with an afternoon siesta closing.