Set in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca mountain range, the famous city of Marbella has a population of 150,000 – though this is estimated to rise to well over 500,000 in summer.
Marbella’s rich history dates to Palaeolithic times, as can be seen from the archaeological sites found in the area.
Further development is evident in Marbella’s Old Town, where a large thriving Roman community was responsible for building such recently-discovered historic monuments as La Muralla and Los Tres Capiteles Jónicos.
Later the city was heavily influenced by the 800-year Moorish occupation and today the Old Town remains home to the Murallas del Castillo castle walls and Las Torres Almenaras lighthouses, which were strategically located all along the coast near the influential Moorish villages of that era.
Facing out to one of the most beautiful bays on the Iberian peninsula, Marbella features a typical urban Andalucian layout with whitewashed walls and façades decorated with barred windows, and orange trees and geraniums planted in every available corner.
With its historic architecture, chic culture and 24 kilometres of charming beaches, Marbella is a glittering gem of the Mediterranean. Internationally renowned as one of the most luxurious and cosmopolitan holiday destinations in southern Europe, it is especially popular with tourists from northern Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Marbella is also home to a mix of international residents and wealthy expatriates, a diverse assortment of people of all ages and nationalities.
Marbella has become a major jet set destination for some of the world’s most celebrated clientele but the city’s most endearing charm lies in the fact that it offers visitors the opportunity of enjoying a coffee under the shade of a blossoming orange tree while quietly watching life pass by. As the locals say, you don’t have to be wealthy in Marbella to feel privileged.
Regional bus travel is available from Marbella’s main station, with a regular transfer service to Málaga airport. Taxis can be found in abundance, horse-drawn carriages are available from the centre of the town.
The Old Town is a charming maze of tiny streets filled with historical buildings, little boutiques, art galleries, pubs and bistros, and traditional Spanish homes. One of the most visited parts of Marbella’s Old Town is the Plaza de los Naranjos square, named after the orange trees that adorn it. The fountain in the square was built in 1604, and another significant architectural “resident” is the original town hall, built in 1572.
The Paseo Marítimo, a striking white-marble promenade that stretches along two kilometres, is a perfect place to cycle, run or exercise on one of the workout machines. Offering upscale restaurants and magnificent landscaping, it truly captures the simplistic elegance that Marbella represents.
Nearby, the amphitheatre at Constitution Park is frequently used for concerts and plays in summer.
Marbella has two major port areas: Puerto Deportivo, in the middle of the town and dedicated to fishing and sporting activities (also set to undergo a €100 million refurbishment); and the world-famous Puerto Banús “millionaires playground”. Heading east along the main road towards Fuengirola, but still in Marbella municipality, is another popular marina resort, Cabopino.
Marbella is situated between Málaga and Gibraltar, just off the AP7 toll road that bypasses the coastal highway, 80 kilometres from Málaga international airport.
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