The Arabs gave the village its name, which appears to be derived from Banu Al Madena, meaning “sons of the mines”, a reference to the important mineral deposits which had been heavily exploited since Roman times; a number of archaeological remains pertaining to this period have been unearthed here, notably a mosaic which can be found in the Alcazaba Museum in Malaga.
Prior to the Moslem occupation, Benalmadena had been colonised by Phoenician merchants.
During Arabic times, the castle was an important defensive structure. After the surrender of Marbella, the Catholic Monarchs turned their attention to Benalmadena, believing that the remaining villages on the way to the city of Malaga would present few difficulties. This was not the case, however, as its inhabitants, protected by their fortress, offered stiff resistance, and King Ferdinand was forced to direct operations himself.
Following its capture in 1485, the castle was totally destroyed and its inhabitants dispersed.
In 1491, the Catholic Monarchs granted a citizen of Malaga, Alonso Palmero, a letter of privilege allowing him to repopulate the area and rebuild the village and its castle under the supervision of the chief magistrate of the aforementioned city.
Benalmadena became a key location in the defence of the coast against the attacks of North African pirates. Remains of three towers can still be found on the coast: El Muelle, Quebrada and Bermeja.
Despite the presence of Roman remains and a mosque in Arroyo de la Miel, a district of Benalmadena, the suburb as we know it today appeared at the end of the 18th century as a result of the hydraulic installations and paper and playing card-producing facilities created by the Galvez de Macharaviaya family, and the presence of a sugar and honey cane factory, the sweet residual waters of which gave the area its name (Arroyo de la Miel translates as the Stream of Honey).