Most of our guests – and we – take the Teba ‘short cut’ when we go to Malaga, or return. So just a place to pass by. Still… From many kilometers away one can see the ruins of the town’s castle ‘Castillo de la Estrella’ (the castle of the Star). As far as I know only one pair of guests ever visited and weren’t that impressed, a pity as it turns out when you dig in to its history.
Teba sits on a river bed. The Castle is of course the highest point in town. Its remaining tower is quite impressive. You drive up to the town centre and follow the signs to the La Estrella, climbing up a series of steep, winding streets to reach a parking area next to the wall. La Estrella played an important role in the Muslim-Christian war. Built in the twelfth century under Almohad rule (when they were building La Giralda and the Torre del Oro in Seville), the fortress used to have 18 towers and three gates (one of them was octagonal and another, square). In the late seventeenth century, the church inside was dismantled and the materials were used to build a new church in the centre of town. La Estrella was probably built somewhere in the 10th century by the Moors. During the 12th and 13th century, under Almohad rule, the castle was strengthened and enlarged.
In 1330 La Estrella was besieged by the Christian troops of Alfonso XI, King of Castile. At that time the castle was known as Hisn Atiba to the Moors and simply as Teba to the Christians. When Muhammed IV, Sultan of Granada, reacted by sending an army led by a Berber general, Uthman bin Abi-l-Ulá, to relieve the defenders, the Battle of Teba ensued in the valley below the castle. This battle was won by Alfonso and La Estrella fell into Christian hands. Alfonso ceded the castle to the Order of Santiago.
Fighting in the army of Alfonso were also several foreign knights, Scottish, English and Portuguese, led by the Scottish Sir John Douglas, the ‘Black Douglas’. He carried with him a silver casket containing the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. Robert the Bruce had died the year before and had asked his friend and lieutenant, Sir James Douglas, t0 after his death James should take the king’s embalmed heart and bear it with him on a crusade, thus fulfilling the pledge that Bruce had been unable to fulfil in his lifetime. Complying to his king’s last wish James Douglas, together with some 30 other Scottish knights, had offered his services to Alfonso. However, the Black Douglas and most of the other Scottish knights died during the Battle of Teba.
Early August, there’re Scottish Days in Teba. The two-day celebrations include games, cultural activities, and festive events, drawing many visitors from the British community on the Costa del Sol and Gibraltar. The town becomes a Medieval village and the street market sells local foods. There’s Celtic music thanks to the Gibraltar Scottish Pipe Band Association and the Teba Music Band. (Source: the Town Hall website).
So, not a bad story after all and worth while visiting in August?