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First of all, there is no certainty about its origins. There’s no trace of any of the civilisations that passed through the Mediterranean here. Because there are only very few archaeological remains of any Roman and late Roman presence in the area. Furthermore, the most likely etymology of the place name is Latin. Probably from Murteto “place of myrtles”, whose evolution seems to have been: Murtetu > Mutreto > Mutrit > Mutril >Mutrayil >Motril.1
Middle Ages and Modern Times
We can talk about Motril as a specific population entity during the Kingdom of Granada. Because the Muslims left wide traces, like the current name of the town. Some of them are toponyms of its plain, the irrigation channel or the introduction of the sugar cane cultivation.
In addition the Catholic Kings arrived in December 1489. At that time it had more than two thousand inhabitants. They worked in agriculture, fishing and the production of silk and sugar. That’s why there was a flourishing trade.
The village occupied an area of 3.5 km² and its main centre was surrounded by a wall. Outside the walls there were also two suburbs:
And also a well-known neighborhood, the Jabdara.
There were also five mosques. The Muslim bath, located south of the town next to the ditch, was preserved until the middle of the 19th century. For the defense of the town, they had, besides the walls, a small citadel. This served as the residence of Queen Aixa al-Horra during the last years of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada.
In 1490 there was a Muslim uprising against the Christians. But he gave himself up definitively in the capitulations of Granada in 1492. The 16th century began with a new Mudejar uprising. After which the Catholic Monarchs granted a new capitulation (September 3, 1500) by which they granted, among other things, Motril its own jurisdiction and allowed it to have its own town hall. But in December 1507 there was another Moorish uprising. This left the town almost deserted. .
There were also Berber and Turkish attacks, which is why the wall was rebuilt. This led to the construction of even the Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnación as a fortress.
The Moorish uprising of 1569 is also noteworthy in the history of Motril. This ended in 1570 with the Christian victory and the expulsion of the Moors.
At the end of the 16th century two religious buildings were built: the church of Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza, patron saint of Motril, and the convent of the Friars Minor of the Victory.
Besides, in the 17th century Motril was recovering demographically and economically. In 1620 they repelled the attack of the Berber pirates who had previously plundered Adra. In 1657 Felipe IV granted Motril the title of city, separating its jurisdiction from Granada. In agriculture, sugar cane continued to predominate, which was later transformed into local factories.
At the beginning of the 18th century Motril was given the title “Very Noble and Loyal” by Philip V, which it has held on its coat of arms ever since. Pataura, a farmhouse in Motril located in front of Lobres, suffered on numerous occasions from the flooding of the Guadalfeo River, which caused it to become depopulated.
On October 4th 1751, the Guadalfeo also destroyed the royal mill. Furthermore, in 1778 another flood caused damage to the whole place and to the church, and the 1784 avenue made Pataura unpopulated and, nowadays, it remains buried in its old location. In 1786 Charles III granted the creation of the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country.
Also in this century Motril suffered its most important epidemic. It reduced the population between 1500 and 2000 people. As a result, the people of Motril built the hermitage of San Antonio.
After the War of Independence, the city resurfaces vigorously in the middle of the century. Because there is a new expansion of the sugar cane and sugar industry.
In the 19th century Motril was part of a singular event. Because it was proclaimed an Independent Canton from 22nd to 25th July 1873.
In a few years, it was at the head of the industrialization of the province of Granada. It also opens to the public the most traditional walk in the city, Las Explanadas. At the end of the 19th century the population reached 14,000 inhabitants. The cultural development is also worth mentioning. That is why at the end of the century it had two theatres:
the Sexi theatre
the Calderón de la Barca theatre, the only one that remains today.
In 1908 work began on the port and road communications with Malaga, Almeria and Granada were improved.
Festivities in Motril
January 13: the city’s vote in commemoration of the earthquake that devastated it on this day in 1804
Day of Andalusia and Carnival
In February during Puente de Andalucía, carnivals are celebrated with different events
From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, a total of 13 confraternities go in procession.
The penitential confraternities in Motril focus on the veneration of Christ under their different advocations. These are referred to a scene of his passion or some divine attribute (Pardon, Humility). Or also to the most usual and repeated names (Jesus of Nazareth and Sweet Name of Jesus).
Also, as in other Andalusian cities, the common order of antiquity is followed:
First of all, the cross of Christ, the Holy Vera Cruz. Then death, the Holy Sepulchre and later the Passion.
The first brotherhood that was canonically erected and adopted the discipline was that of the Vera Cruz (16th century).
At present there are 13 Brotherhoods that carry out public penance in the streets of the city during Holy Week. These are days of bustle and activity in the streets and of fervour and recollection as the brotherhoods pass by.
2nd May: Festival of the Crosses.
Pilgrimage of San Antonio
This festival is always on June 13: Pilgrimage of San Antonio.
The festival of San Juan is the night from 23rd to 24th June, it is also a local festival in Motril.
The Night of San Juan is a festivity of very ancient origin that is usually linked to the lighting of bonfires or fires. It is also linked to the celebrations in which the arrival of the summer solstice was celebrated in the northern hemisphere.
That is why on that day in Motril bonfires are lit on the beach and camping is allowed. The tradition says that you have to ask for 3 wishes written on paper to the fire. But you also throw three negative things into the sea so that the tide can take them away. The women wash their faces with sea water and rose petals in the morning to be more beautiful the rest of the year.
From the Town Hall on the night of San Juan ; 23rd June, a bonfire is lit in the area of Santa Adela and activities are carried out in different areas of the beach.
The Virgin of Carmen
16th of July: Festivity of the Virgen del Carmen, in the Port
The Patron Saint, Our Lady of the Head
Week around the 15th of August, festivities in honour of Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza, patron saint of the town.
The Patron Saint Festivities of Motril are in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza. (15th August)
In the first half of August the patron saint’s fiestas of Motril are held in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza. A week of events in the Fair of the Cortijo del Conde, with:
- sporting events
- pyro musical castle on the beach
Day Fair in the city’s shopping centre where fun and joy are guaranteed, etc.
In addition, the 15th, the feast of the Virgin, is the big day (with the solemn procession through the streets of the city).
Virgen de las Angustias
Second Sunday of October: festivities in honour of the Virgen de las Angustias, in the neighbourhood of the same name.
Third Sunday of October: festivities in honour of the Divina Pastora, in the quarter of Capuchinos
In addition, the Ron Montero winery organizes a parade that evokes the ancient tradition of La Taramela. This is a celebration of the transportation of the last sugar cane by donkey to the sugar mills.
This festival, which coincides with the Motril Fair in August, commemorates the most authentic things in the land of Granada:
- the smell of burnt cane
- the Flemish
- the blackened faces
- the donkeys adorned with flowers carrying the cane…
- During the parade:
- the follargos (workers who came from outside Motril to do the cane harvesting)
- the monderos (who cleaned them)
the tacheros (who worked in the mills), along with the donkeys and the traditional wagons decorated with oleander
All of them represent the three phases through which the cane goes from its harvesting in the cane fields to the elaboration of molasses
Weather in Motril
In the capital of the Costa Tropical of Granada the summers are short, very hot, arid and mostly clear. And the winters are long, cool, windy and partly cloudy.
Also during the course of the year, the temperature generally varies from 8 °C to 31 °C and rarely falls below 5 °C or rises above 33 °C.
Probably the best time of year to visit Motril is from mid-June to early September.
The hot season lasts almost three months, from June to mid-September. And the average daily maximum temperature is over 28°C.
The cool season lasts about 4 months, from mid-November to mid-March. During which the maximum average daily temperature is over 19 °C.
In Motril, the average percentage of the sky covered with clouds varies considerably over the course of the year.
Because the clearest part of the year in Motril starts approximately at the beginning of June. It lasts about 3 months and ends approximately on September 10th.
The cloudiest part of the year starts approximately in September. Which lasts about 9 months and ends about June 9.
A wet day is a day with at least 1 millimeter of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. But the probability of wet days in Motril changes a lot throughout the year.
The wettest season lasts about 7 months, from the end of September to the middle of May. It has a probability of more than 10 % that a certain day will be a wet day.
The driest season lasts about 4 months, from May to September.
In motril it has almost never snowed, the rainfall is always of rain.
This city has a very slight variation of monthly rainfall by season.
The rainy season lasts between 8 and 9 months, from September to May, with a mobile interval of 31 days of rain of at least 13 millimetres. In addition, most of the rain falls during the 31 days centered around November 9, with an average total accumulation of 45 millimeters.
The period of the year without rain lasts about 4 months, from May 22nd to September 15th approximately. The approximate date with the least amount of rain is late July, with an average total accumulation of 1 millimeter.
The comfort level of the moisture is based on the dew point. Because it determines whether the sweat will evaporate from the skin, thus cooling the body.
When the dew points are lower you feel drier and when they are higher you feel wetter. In addition to the difference in temperature, which generally varies considerably between night and day, the dew point tends to change more slowly. So even if the temperature drops at night, on a wet day the night is usually wet.
In the capital of the Costa Tropical the perceived humidity varies considerably.
The wettest period of the year lasts 3 months, from June 30th to September 26th.
The Costa Tropical has almost every year 320 days of sunshine guaranteed. It also has a subtropical microclimate. This is influenced by the protection of the Sierra de Lújar to the north. This slows down the cold winds of the Sierra Nevada, and the warm sea of Alborán, which is to the south. And it is also a thermal regulator. The average annual temperature is between 17 and 18 degrees.
As for rainfall, the months of July and August are usually very dry, while the months of December and January rainfall is around 40 mm. That is why Motril has a rich variety of natural spaces as a consequence of its geographical location, halfway between Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean Sea.
Coastal areas such as Cabo Sacratif or the Cliffs of Calahonda with the presence of endemic species. In addition to species from the arid zone of Almeria. There are also river environments linked to the Guadalfeo River and its delta such as the Tajo de las Vados and the humid areas.
Besides the rich underground world of the Karst of Calahonda. And, finally, the mountains of the Cuerda del Jaral with the presence of the cork oak grove. These are exponents of this exuberant diversity. This diversity can be enjoyed by the people of Motril and those who visit us, and we all have an obligation to preserve it.
The Gastronomy in Motril
The city of Motril has enough reason to be proud of its gastronomy. Of course, the marine dishes stand out, in which seafood and fish are the main protagonists.
Because there is a select, diverse, varied, fresh and healthy gastronomic offer to enjoy at any time of the year. This is the gastronomy of the Costa Tropical and its capital Motril.
If you are in Motril or the Costa Tropical try it:
- the rock fish in salt
- seasonal fish frying
Another specialty is tropical salads. In which creativity allows us to offer fresh vegetables from the garden with locally produced tropical fruits. Cherry tomatoes, mini peppers, pickles, avocados, mangos, custard apples, are an excellent proposal to share at any time of the year. Crunchy toasted doughnuts filled with ham and cheese from the villages of the Sierra Nevada, with a touch of olive oil from Granada are specialties to try. Fried aubergines with sugar cane honey, avocado with prawns, guacamole with anchovies, grilled sardines or octopus on a wood fire, are simple but tasty proposals that you can only discover by the sea. Choose one of the excellent Wines of Granada DOP. First of all, one of the most delicious dishes you can try in Motril is the cold soup. Because it is very popular in the summer. It is a broth with different vegetables from the area with bread. Also as gazpacho and actually it is one of the symbols of Spain.
Another dish of the regional festivities of Motril is the boquerones a la parrilla (grilled anchovies). These are served nailed to some cane sticks so that they can be eaten anywhere. Also the spices are the ideal component to make delicious sauces. These accompany the typical dishes.
There are also other simpler delicacies such as a light snack and migas. You can eat them in their natural state or dipping them in some olive cream. And also with a sauce of peppers and radishes.
But besides the dishes we have already highlighted in Motril you can taste a great variety of typical gastronomic products:
The typical products are:
To begin with the dry Octopus of Motril, which has its secret in the time it is to dry in the “perch”. It is not as soft as the Galician octopus but it is very tasty.
Also as we have already advanced the crumbs made from semolina flour that is usually eaten on rainy days.
The “espichás” fried with garlic, anchovy dried in the sun, salted and fried; it is accompanied by garlic and fried eggs. During the summer it is essential to prepare sardine skewers, which are usually prepared on the beach.
The famous Motril shrimps, prawns similar to carabineros known nationally for their flavor.
Choto al ajillo cabañil, a traditional choto stew that is usually made during celebrations.
La Cazuela de San Juan, which is a pumpkin and spice sweet that is prepared before the night of San Juan.
Leche curizada, an ice cream of which the Perandrés family has kept the recipe for years.
And the most famous drink, exclusive in the region, is the Pálido de Montero rum.
Puchero de Semana Santa (Holy Week stew), made with chickpeas, potatoes, cod and parsley.
Vega Beer has also been brewed since 2013. This is a local craft beer made from cane sugar.
To finish any of the banquets in Motril, it is always good to order any of the typical desserts. The most popular of all is the Torta Real. This delicious sweet has a lot of influence from the Arab confectionery. The ingredients that give it more flavour are the delicious almonds, which are the delight of the children during the meal. It is a dessert of Arab origin that the Videras family has kept its recipe since 1840.
A slightly fresher and more natural dessert is the cazuela de San Juan, which is made from liquefied pumpkin and bush.
Another dessert of evident Arab influence is the haju cake. Whose meringue recipe has been maintained for many years by the people of Granada.
Where to go for a “Tapas” in Motril
Motril is an excellent place to eat and eat tapas, at very affordable prices.
As in the whole province of Granada in Motril, the capital of the Costa Tropical of Granada. Tapas are also totally free with any drink consumed in a tavern, restaurant, bar or chiringuito. This is tradition.
That is why we can say that going for tapas in Motril can be enjoyed everywhere, also in its most classic definition. In almost any place they will put you an accompaniment with the drink.
The tapas in Motril, are part of a dish of food courtesy of the bar or restaurant. Because when you order a beer in any of its variants, wine, soda or any other drink.
It is also necessary to emphasize that the type of tapa can vary according to the specialities of each establishment. And also because of the amount of drinks consumed. It is easy to hear the waiter ordering the tapas from the kitchen saying: “Dos Primeras”, referring to the fact that at that table there are two customers who have ordered their first drink, and therefore they are entitled to two tapas from the first batch. As you order rounds, the tapas tend to be more generous.
Motril is a city that has two well differentiated parts, the coast and the interior. And that detail can also be seen in the tapas because in the port and beach, the “tapeo” is usually fresh fish.
And in the interior there is everything, that is why we can find everything from sausages to ham from the Alpujarra.
The restaurants on the beach have very fresh fish at a very good price, but beware of the grouper, “off the menu”, which can cost you a fortune. Wicked or very crazy
Some of the most typical tapas, besides the famous Motril shrimps can be:
- Flour crumbs: accompanied with sardines, anchovies or peppers.
- Bocadillo de Lomo con Ali-Oli is another of the classic tapas.
- The ham doughnuts: which consists of a hot bread doughnut baked in the oven, with Trevelez ham inside and sprinkled with olive oil and tomato.
History of Sugar Cane in Motril and Rum
Sugar cane, present for more than a millennium in Motril, contributed for centuries to the economy.
Although the last milling of cane in this area took place in April 2006. There is no lack of romantics among the inhabitants of Motril who dream of seeing the Vega return to its former splendour.
Their plantation has never been abandoned definitively and even in recent years many farmers are returning to devote part of their land to growing it, as it is part of our culture and idiosyncrasy.
The Sugar Route
The Sugar Route includes the architectural heritage, the abundant cultural legacy in a heritage and tourist product that explains to our citizens and visitors the complex and distant manufacturing tradition of sugar that made Motril the capital of this product in Europe.
It gathers a great part of the history of Motril through its relationship with the sugar cane. Which is a crop that made it prosper in an unsuspected way. Even to the point of reaching levels of wealth that collectors and pirates coveted for a long time. In addition, it constituted an industrial fabric that at the beginning of the 19th century had an economic influence on the rest of the province.
We must not forget that the old sugar factories are still scattered along the coast. These are a route that allows the visitor to discover the glorious past of Motril.
Sugarcane Rum Wineries
The Montero Rum Cellars are proud to present a finished and marketed product. Ron Montero is an emblematic company in the province of Granada: It started more than 50 years ago (1963) by Mr. Francisco Montero Martín.
Despite the cessation of sugar cane cultivation in the area, after more than 1,000 years. Ron Montero continues to produce its products of maximum and recognized quality in the same way as it has always done.
Furthermore, it maintains the principles of quality of the raw materials used. And also with regard to the traditional elaboration of its products following the traditional system of soleras and criaderas.
This is why Ron Montero currently sells 240,000 litres of rum per year.
The Sugar Cane Pre-Industrial Museum in Motril
The Palm Mill
The “Museo Preindustrial del Azúcar” is really the rehabilitation of the last archaeological remains for museum purposes. Because that was one of the most important sugar factories in Motril. Moreover, from the end of the Middle Ages to the last years of the Modern Age: the Palm Mill.
The sugar mill of La Palma, whose first data of existence go back to the last years of the XV century. It was a royal mill that had horizontal mills to grind the canes. Although it cannot be ruled out that it may also have used, at some point in its first existence, molar stones. With the passage of time the whole structure of the mill disappeared almost completely, except for the house.
Moreover, with the passing of the centuries, the existence of this old sugar factory was practically forgotten.
Discovery and excavation
However, from 1989 onwards, when the site after the Casa de la Palma was being levelled, it was almost forgotten. Several large carved stones were discovered. Even one of them with three channels and another one with a circular channel. So it was thought that they might be elements of the old mill.
Then an emergency excavation was carried out and later a systematic excavation. This uncovered various wall structures and other elements of the mill.
The existence of these archaeological remains decided the Municipal Corporation to attempt their rehabilitation. Federico Salmerón, an architect from Granada, was commissioned to draw up the rehabilitation project, and with the financial support of the Andalusian Regional Government’s Department of Tourism, the rehabilitation work began at the end of 1996 and was completed in autumn 1998.
Subsequently, the Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Costa Tropical de Granada took on the task of equipping and setting up the museum of the Museo Preindustrial del Azúcar. The project was started in November 2000 and the work was completed in December 2002.
Unique museum in Europe
The function of this museum, unique in Europe, is to show the pre-industrial heritage related to the sugar activity that is preserved in this area.
The importance of the Sugar Cane
The Sugar Cane was one of the most important pre-industrial activities since the Muslim era. It was also cultivated throughout the Mediterranean. At present this crop, which was almost considered to have disappeared, is regaining a certain prominence and strength in the Motrilian panorama.
This Pre-industrial Museum has been included in the RECTA, Network of Spaces for Scientific and Technical Dissemination. The Museum of Ethnobotany of Cordoba, the Science Park of Granada and the Botanical Gardens, among others, are part of this network.
Motril´s port and its economic importance for the city
The Port of Motril is the fourth most important port in Spain in terms of goods traffic. For example, last year 2,019 moved almost 3 million tons of goods. This is very important for the economy, not only for the city of Motril, but also for the whole Costa Tropical.
Export of liquid bulk:
As far as liquid bulk is concerned, fuels total more than a million tons. Moreover, in the last year a new local export commodity has been added. Because ‘Azucarera del Guadalfeo’ has transformed binaza into soluble molasses condensate for the manufacture of animal feed.
And it will also soon obtain the food safety certificate so that this product can be safe for human food and cosmetics.
Increase of solid bulk in export:
In addition, new companies are arriving to take advantage of the excellent network of connections provided by the Port of Motril. Among other products, the new companies export gypsum ore from the quarries of the province.
In addition, more than 600,000 tons of the exported ones are of solid bulk. That represents almost 23 percent of the total traffic. Thanks to the new companies.
The importance of this merchandise in the statistics is shown by the almost 90,000 tons moved in only two shipments in the final stretch of the year. Moreover, the forecast is to reach 200,000 per year.
Merchandise in the Ferries:
The general cargo has evolved along the same lines as in recent years, and now stands at around 800,000 tons.
Due to its importance, the products that travel on board the ferries of the maritime lines with Melilla and the rest of North Africa stand out.
Among the companies that stand out in these operations we can name the shipping companies FRS and Armas Trasmediterránea. These companies export goods for wind turbines and the export of the largest wind turbine blades manufactured in Spain. As well as car parts, among others.