is a marvelous town located right in the middle of the “Costa del Sol-Costa del Golf”. Formerly a small Andalusian fishing-village, it is now one of the most exciting holiday resorts along the Mediterranean coast. Marbella’s motto is “A Way of Life” and, certainly, this luxurious resort town seems to have it all, great beaches, great climate and a unique offer in sports, gastronomy and entertainment … a visit to Marbella is a guarantee for unforgettable exclusive holidays. It rose to the fore as a favorite location with the rich and famous, but today is open to anyone who wants to experience southern Spain’s answer to St Tropez.
Marbella offers both the quintessentially Spanish qualities of its “old town” alongside the modern landmarks of designer labels and contemporary infrastructure. It has an air of individuality which can be best appreciated by exploring back streets in the old part of town. One of the prettiest places is the fabled ‘Orange Square’ which is located just off the main street in the older district and is also home to the 16th century town hall and tourist office where you can pick up a detailed map and visitor information.
Orange Square, or “La Plaza de los Naranjos”, as it is called in Spanish, is full of stately buildings, small shops, art galleries, bars and bistros and is a hub of activity day and night. Be sure to explore the honeycomb of surrounding narrow streets where homes and shops intermingle to create the atmosphere of a small village, rather than a cosmopolitan town.
Its origins date all the way back to 1600 BC, when it was founded by the Romans and called “Salduba”. The remains of a once luxurious Roman villa situated at Rio Verde (on the outskirts of Marbella) display in situ some beautiful mosaics from the period and the substantial remains of the octagonal Roman bath house of Las Bovedas in San Pedro de Alcantara has defied the elements in spectacular fashion.
In the year 711 the Moors invaded and conquered much of the Iberian Peninsula and under their rule Marbella became a prosperous town called “Marbi-la”. The Moors’ predilection for fountains and running water is evident and techniques and motifs used by Muslim craftsmen remain in use today.
Orange Square dates back to 1485 and is surrounded by whitewashed houses and three historical buildings – the town hall, the old governor’s house and the Chapel (Hermitage) of Santiago. Dominating the square is the most important building in the town, The Church of Saint Mary whose construction began in 1618. The main facade of the building is adorned with a beautiful red stone entrance worked in Baroque style while the interior consists of three sections which underwent restoration after the 1936 Civil War. The church organ here is the most important built in Spain in the last 125 years. The installation began in 1972 and was completed in 1975. In the church square there is also a tower which was part of the wall that used to surround the Moorish town.
At the end of Nueva Street, where it joins Orange Square, stands a stone fountain which dates from the year 1504 when it was erected by the first Mayor of Christian Marbella. To the left is the Old Governor’s House which dates back to 1552 and still retains the original stone facade adorned with shields and a three arched balcony.
The 1940’s saw the arrival of Ricardo Soriano, a gentleman who recognized Marbella’s potential and invested heavily in the area. He is now honored as the namesake for Marbella’s main thoroughfare.
In 1954, Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe opened the doors of the Marbella Club Hotel and it was perhaps the Hohenlohe dream that really lit the fuse for Marbella’s exclusive draw on the rich and famous. 1959 saw the beginning of the golf boom, with the first golf course opening at Guadalmina and in 1970, Puerto Banus began to welcome some of the world’s finest yachts and cruisers and placed Marbella firmly on the jet set world map of desirable and celebrity residences.
Throughout history, Marbella has flourished and no doubt in the future Marbella will continue to grow and change, almost certainly casting its spell on its visitors who like so many will fall in love with this jewel of the Costa del Sol.
As one would expect, Marbella is a wonderful shopping centre with several large shopping complexes, as well as hypermarkets, specialty food shops, designer boutiques, interior decor stores and much, much more.
Unless you are in a hurry, the best way to explore Marbella’s shops is by simply strolling through the streets. From Gucci to Zara it has everything you need.
If you are looking for a one stop shop, there are many shopping centres within close distance.
El Corte Ingles in Marbella’s Puerto Banus was one of the first to open its doors in 1999. 4 levels high, this luxury shopping centre offers all the most famous and popular perfumes and cosmetics you can think of, accessories, gold, jewellery, watches, gifts, furniture, art gallery, home design, kitchen furniture household goods, crystals, electrical appliances, IT, books etc. and a large Hipercor hyper-market and a two floor underground car parks.
La Canada in Marbella opened in 2000. Situated on the north side of the road N 340 on Marbella, this shopping centre has over 150 shops on two levels. There is a huge Alcampo supermarket with food, wine, clothes, furniture, computers, televisions and more. The Centre has more than 50 fashion and accessory stores, amongst the most popular are Zara, H & M, Mango, Massimo Dutti and many more boutiques. Sport shops, perfume shops, beauty shops, home and furniture shops. A Multiplex Cinema with 8 Screens, and a long range of bars, cafés, fast-food, tapas and restaurants and a large free parking for over 2000 cars, it definitely has what you need.
Marina Banus shopping centre is in two levels, situated directly opposite El Corte Ingles in Puerto Banus, opened 2002 as a complement and a competitor to the bigger El Corte Ingles. It has over 30 shops, boutiques, bars and cafes. Most of the fashion shops come from the chain stores of Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Adolfo Dominguez, etc. You can also find shoes shops, jewellery, glasses etc and it has direct access from the car park.
There are over 80 golf courses in the Costa del Sol and 30 in Marbella alone. Due to the wonderful climate, you can play golf every day 365 days a year. Many of the golf courses have been designed by some of the best architects and designers like Robert Trent Jones, Seve Ballesteros, Peter Alliss, Dave Thomas and Tony Jacklin. These golf courses are well known as the best in Europe.
What to do in Marbella
The question should be “what can we fit in?” With so much to choose from within or nearby Marbella; 2 magnificent casinos, superb entertainment complexes, shops galore, a racecourse as well as a safari park, water parks, theme parks, world renowned golf courses, beautiful beaches, swimming pools, spas and fitness centres and of course the fabulous range of restaurants to suit any budget, it will be hard to decide.
However for the ultimate in coastal charisma it would be hard to beat Puerto Banus Marina, just west of the town. This is the place to be pampered yacht side and watch the world go by or window shop at one of several of the world renowned fashion houses and boutiques. The port has grown considerably over the years and now includes a casino, commercial shopping centre, marine observatory and a multi cinema with films shown in their original soundtrack.
There are numerous excellent restaurants to choose from, ranging from those specializing in the exclusive cordon bleu to the gritty individuality of a backstreet Spanish bar where the Serrano ham is gently cured and the tapas are both tasty and filling. Every imaginable cuisine is catered to.
Back towards the coast is the La Alameda park where you can book your personal horse and carriage to travel in style or, if you prefer, stroll on towards the sea along the Avenida del Mar. This is arguably one of the most delightful promenades on the costa, flanked by classy restaurants and bars.
From Guadalalmina to Cabopino, the Marbella coastline stretches along some 27 kilometres of sunny beaches bathed by the Mediterranean and where you can enjoy traditional fish and seafood favorites like sardines on a spit, fried fish and the incomparable paella.
Or take a stroll through Puerto Banus Marina which is home to large expensive yachts and smaller pleasure craft alike. The marina is home for plenty of restaurants and cafés, catering for all tastes from fine dining to burgers and fries. The marina’s increased popularity has led to international chains such as TGI Friday’s opening up and many more, making it within the reach of most people to eat in Puerto Banús. Relax with a drink or a coffee and watch the Ferrari’s and Bentley’s passing by.
The climate, with more than 300 days of sun and a year around average temperature of 23ºC (73ºF), makes Malaga a perfect location to visit.
Sea breezes from the Mediterranean coastline regulates the summer heat to a more comfortable levels than the inland Andalusian towns and the mountains form the perfect barrier to protect the city from the colder weather in winter.
Some much needed rainfall is to be expected in the colder months, but with an average of less than 40 rainy days a year, it does not usually last for long.
The Marbella coastline enjoys some of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol. The beaches have landscaped with oases of palms and in some places traditional showers have been replaced with giant elephant statues which spray water from their trunks!
Marbella has in its municipality 27 Km. of coastline which is divided into 24 beaches. Enjoy a morning walk or evening jog along Marbella´s Paseo Maritimo (promenade) and the harbours where many traditional Spanish restaurants, bars and cafes are also located. Just off Marbella’s promenade there is the large family beach with golden sand, lovely chiringuitos (beach restaurants), sun beds every 300 – 400 meters and lots of activities.