Av del Mar
Marbella Old Town
26km Sandy Beach
Marbella has become synonymous with luxury and high living but it is important to remember that it has not been always the case and Marbella was once a sleepy fishing village.
Marbella history goes as far back as 1600 BC with evidence of Phoenician and later Carthaginian settlements in the area of Rio Real. In the Roman times the city was called Salduba (Salt City).
Arrival of the Moors witnessed formalisation of the city with a fortress built to defend the city against Christian’s attacks. Moors called the city Marbil-la and created a thriving port city surrounded by farmland. On June 11th 1485 Marbella fell to the Christian army and subsequently major work was undertaken to change the city design. The Moorish Medina was destroyed and replaced with what is now the famous Orange Square “La Plaza de los Naranjos” and Town Hall.
In the 1940s, Marbella was a small village with only 900 inhabitants but this changed when Prince Max Egon zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his heir Alfonso of Hohenlohe experienced a problem with their Rolls-Royce in the area. Having fallen in love with Marbella, Alfonso decided to buy land and market the area as a tourist destination. In 1954 he opened Hotel Marbella Club, which in spite of its name, was far from being a conventional tall and impersonal building but rather was a resort with traditional low houses among 23,000 trees. He soon convinced other noble European families to move to Marbella and enjoy discreet luxury, starting what became the Costa del Sol boom. Alfonso de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish socialite and brother to the Queen Fabiola was also a frequent vacationer.
1974 saw the arrival of the Prince Fahd, having broken the bank of the Casino of Montecarlo. Until his death in 2005 he was a frequent and profitable guest of Marbella, together with many other petro-dollars spending rich individuals including the then-anonymous Osama bin Laden.
However, Marbella is not all about swanky hotels, golf courses and expensive restaurants. Park your car at Victoria Car Park at the old town centre and see the old beautiful village still surviving in winding and quaint narrow streets. Exit the car park and turn immediately left and once on the road turn left and left again. Follow this pedestrian only street until you come to “La Plaza de los Naranjos” (Orange Square), which is also home to the 16th century Town Hall and Tourist Office where you can pick up a detailed map and visitor information. La Plaza holds many grand buildings, small shops, art galleries, bars and bistros and is a hub of activity day and night. And, depending on the time of year, the colours here can be vibrant with the trees and exotic tropical plants set against a backdrop of dazzling white buildings and a deep blue sky.
Take stroll through the many alleyways emanating from the Plaza and soak the true Andalucian village atmosphere with the honeycomb of narrow streets where homes and shops intermingle. Once you have exhausted the narrow streets together with their picturesque buildings and atmospheric Bars and Restaurants, head towards the main street to the south of the Orange Square via Calle Africa.
You should now cross the N340 (Av de Ramon y Cajal) where you will find Parque Almeda. Walk through the park heading south past the main fountain and you will come to Av del Mar. This is the main walk way to the beach front and the famous promenade. Note the expensive Dali status another reminder of the flamboyant but now discredited old Mayor of Marbella Jesus Gil. Take a long walk down the beach and see for yourself why millions of people flock to Costa-del-Sol every year to enjoy the Sun, Sand and Sangria! 26 kilometres of sandy beach with clear blue water, cloudless sky and beautiful people (well some anyway!). This is what beach holiday is all about.
From Guadalalmina to Cabopino you can enjoy traditional fish and seafood favourites like sardines on a spit, fried fish and the incomparable paella. There are also numerous lively Tapas bars, ice-cream parlours with every conceivable flavour on earth, restaurants with varied menus from Spanish to Italian and Indian! This beach front caters for all tastes and budgets but do check the prices before you step in.
For the ultimate in Costa-del-sol high living you need to travel a little west to Puerto Banus, the Monte Carlo of Spain. The port is full of extraordinary expensive boats, with the owners mandatory Bentleys, Ferraris, Aston Martins or Lamborghinis waiting on the quayside. The port side is full of expensive boutiques alongside excellent seafood restaurants, lively bars and nightlife that does not appear to end even with the sunrise.