MarbellaOficina de Turismo Paseo Marítimo de Marbella, Glorieta de la Fontanilla s/n, Marbella, 29602
Marbella embodies culture, entertainment and glamour; it is one of the most exclusive cities in the Mediterranean and the pride of the Costa del Sol. Twenty eight kilometres of coastline, four marinas, fourteen golf courses and a privileged climate, make it a destination beyond compare. Perhaps that is why Julio Iglesias, Sean Connery, Antonio Banderas, Eva Longoria and Naomi Campbell (just a handful of the many famous faces that are seen here) do not think twice when choosing Marbella as their holiday destination.
Visiting Marbella is a unique experience. From shopping in its luxurious boutiques to dining in its distinguished restaurants or having fun at their beach clubs, the possibilities are endless. But if the priority is relaxation, the city has twenty thalassotherapy centres and spas, alongside a first class selection of hotels in its three main centres: Marbella, San Pedro de Alcantara and Puerto Banus-Nueva Andalucía.
All of this has led to almost 4,000 Britons choosing Marbella as their place of residence.
NOT TO BE MISSED IN MARBELLA
Marbella is a destination that will not fail to surprise you. Even today its historical centre preserves the remaining fortress walls that surrounded the city in the Moorish period, and the Moorish castle. In one tower you can see built-in Roman capitals, revealing that even older construction materials were used to build the defensive enclosure.
An unmissable stop on the cultural route through the city is Cortijo Miraflores centre of culture. This 1704 mansion was a sugar cane press and mill. Today it houses the Museo del Aceite, rooms for temporary exhibitions, a library and a municipal art gallery. Behind the building, remnants of ovens and a rupestrian chapel from between the eighth and tenth centuries were found.
Also worth a visit is the Colección Municipal Arqueológica and the Museo Ralli, dedicated to the promotion of European and Latin American contemporary art. Furthermore, in the Avenida del Mar you can admire a collection of bronze sculptures by Salvador Dalí. This artery connects Marbella Marina with the Paseo de La Alameda, designed in the nineteenth century.
In the Plaza de los Naranjos, designed after the Christian conquest of Marbella, you have a view of the Hermitage of Santiago, the Town Hall and the Casa del Corregidor, built between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They are in the heart historic centre of the town, with its white houses and balconies bedecked with flowers.
Near the square are the Capilla of San Juan de Dios and the sixteenth century Hermitage of Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz, and the seventeenth century Iglesia de la Encarnación. The latter consists of three naves and its front door, carved in Rococo-style ochre stone; it is truly wonderful.
The Hospital Bazán, located in the vicinity, houses the headquarters of the Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, with works by Picasso, Miró, Tapies or Chillida.
Marbella has interesting archaeological sites, like the Basílica Paleocristiana de Vega del Mar, in San Pedro de Alcántara. The remnants of the Roman town of Río Verde or those of the hot springs near Guadalmina also have some historical interest.
GETTING TO MARBELLA FROM MALAGA
There are several possible ways of getting to Marbella from Malaga. The most optimal route is on the AP-7, taking exit 187. The estimate journey time for this route is about 45 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Another option is to go for the E-15 and continue a stretch on the AP-7. The estimated journey time is about 50 minutes.
By public transport, there is the option of taking the direct bus from the station in Malaga, with a journey time of approximately 45 minutes.
With twenty kilometres of coastline, Marbella is a true paradise for lovers of the sun and beaches. The most popular are those of El Cable, La Fontanilla, Puerto Banús and El Faro. Special mention should be made to Playa de Cabopino, which has a nudist area, sheltered by the Dunas de Artola. In this enclave, declared a Natural Monument, stands the Torre de los Ladrones.
Hikers and fans of adventure activities can tackle the Sierra Blanca, at the foot of which the town sits. Another recommended option is to go to the nearby Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves, just outside the municipality.
Marbella also has two resort areas, El Pinar de Nagüeles and Parque Forestal Vigil, and fabulous green areas like the Parque Arroyo de la Represa. By the sea, it continues off the Parque de la Constitución, with an astronomical observatory and an auditorium.
Marbella's Valle del Golf encompasses some of the best courses in Europe. The prestige of its clubs, the versatility of its facilities and its privileged climate make it a unique place for this sport and organising top level events.
The Real Club de Golf Las Brisas, located just six kilometres from the centre of Marbella, is one of the courses in the municipality with the highest recognition. This was founded in 1968 by
D. Jose Banus who chose the design for Robert Trent Jones from America. The Real Club de Golf Las Brisas has witnessed moments of glory from great golfers like Nick Faldo.
Marbella also brings together four marinas, totalling nearly 1,800 berths. The most representative is Puerto Banús, with its impressive yachts and exclusive boutiques. A sailing and commercial offer with excellent restaurants and lively bars and nightclubs.
In this town on the Costa del Sol it is also possible to practice other sports such as diving, horse riding, paddle tennis or tennis. And for the more adventurous, there is the largest eco-park in Andalusia for activities in the trees: Aventura Amazonia Marbella.
Marbella also has a casino and the best beach clubs on the coast. In these sophisticated temples of fun, you can enjoy music, food and champagne by the sea. Theme parties, reserved for the most demanding customers, are its main attraction.
The calendar of events in Marbella is innumerable. Throughout the year, the city is the scene of all sorts of events, among which is Starlite. Consolidated as one of the most powerful festivals in Spain, its programming includes concerts, movie premieres, exhibitions, fashion shows and a charity gala where there is no shortage of celebrities.
However, the two most established celebrations in this town on the Costa del Sol are the festivals in honour of San Bernabé de Marbella, in June, and the Feria de San Pedro de Alcantara, in October. These dates are fused with tradition, culture and folklore, with a decidedly Andalusian influence.
Other important events are the Marb Art contemporary art fair, Marbella's International Film Festival, and the famous solidarity markets, which are organised in different seasons of the year.
Also worthy of note is Semana Santa (Easter), with the nine brotherhood processions through the streets of Marbella, and the pilgrimage to the Cruz de Juanar, where fervour and fun go hand in hand.
Although Marbella is known for its gourmet restaurants, the fried fish is the most traditional dish of the local cuisine. Also worthy of note are the gazpacho (cold soup made from tomatoes, peppers, garlic, cucumber and olive oil), and ajoblanco (cold soup made from garlic and almonds, which is usually accompanied with grapes).
In Marbella you can go from having tapas in the historic centre to eating at a beach club or snack bar by the sea. Meanwhile the best choice for the more refined palates is the gourmet restaurants.
Marbella has witnessed human settlement since the dawn of time, as attested by the Palaeolithic tools found in Coto Correa and the Neolithic evidence unearthed in Cueva de Pecho Redondo. The archaeological sites of Río Real and Río Verde show that the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians were here too.
The Romans left a more permanent mark: a well-preserved villa in San Pedro Alcántara (first or second century AD) with remarkable mosaics and the baths near Guadalmina (third century AD).
As a matter of fact, Marbella could have been founded by the Romans. Some scholars believe it to be Salduba, the town in the Iberian Peninsula mentioned by Pliny and Ptolemy. Others conflate it with Cilniana, the village in the Antonine Itinerary.
The fourth-century Palaeo-Christian Basilica in San Pedro Alcántara is considered to be one of the most remarkable Visigothic monuments in Spain. It stands next to an ancient burial site. Many of the items unearthed on the site are now on display at the National Museum of Archaeology.
In times of Islamic Spain, Marbella was under the control of several dynasties. The Arabs built the castle and enclosed the village within walls to protect the population from exterior attacks. With time, Marbella became the capital of a huge area also comprising Ojén, Almáchar, Istán, Benahavís and Cortes.
Islamic Marbella surrendered to the troops led by King Ferdinand the Catholic on 11 June 1485. The defeat was followed by dramatic transformation in urban planning: part of the medina was gone, a central square was developed and linked to the Mediterranean Sea by a road.
After the Reconquista, Marbella was directly dependent on the Catholic Monarchs, who were in charge of appointing the governor. A prominent man in town was Alonso de Bazán, warden of the castle and alderman of the City Hall. The old hospital now housing the Museum of Spanish Contemporary Engravings was named after him (sixteenth century).
The local economy was based on agriculture, fishing, trade and mining (ores in Sierra Blanca). The nineteenth-century laws protecting mining activities led to the establishment of furnaces to take advantage of the iron found in the mines. As a result, Málaga Province climbed to second most industrialised province in the country.
At the turn of the century, Marbella"s economic and social model was difficult to uphold: the mines went into foreign hands, the industrial fabric was torn apart, large pieces of land belonged to a few families. In the mid-twentieth century, Marbella emerged as a fancy tourist resort, attracting noblemen and entrepreneurs like José Banús, Ricardo Soriano or Alfonso de Hohenlohe. They were the men behind the early development of tourism infrastructure.
- Inhabitants (+50,000)
- Picturesque place
- Coastal area