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It was Abd-ar-Rahman III who founded the Alcazaba (the Citadel), which gave this city its name: al-Mariyyah (المريّة, «the Watchtower»). In the 10th and 11th centuries, it formed part of the Caliphate of Córdoba, and grew wealthy on trade and the textile industry, especially silk. It suffered many sieges and fell under Christian domination in 1489. In 1522, this city was devastated by an earthquake and rebuilding and recovery did not really get underway until the 19th century. During the Spanish Civil War, the city was shelled by the German Navy, and fell to Franco in 1939. It has since rebuilt its economy around vegetable production, with 100,000 acres of greenhouses, supplying much of Europe.


But In the first century, Christian documents report that there was a town named Urci. Possibly near the current site of this city, in the Hispania of the Roman Empire. However, this is disputed, as there are several possible sites of the town. However. But missionary Saint Indaletius is said to have evangelized Urci and become its first bishop. Therefore is officially the patron saint of this city.

Later, the city was refounded by Calipha Abd-ar-Rahman III of Córdoba in 955 AD. Therefore it was to be a principal harbour in his extensive domain to strengthen his Mediterranean defences.