A sea of history, Marbella through time
One of the main attractions of Costa del Sol is Marbella, with a 26 km long coastline provided and sandy beaches next to Sierra Blanca. A landmark in itself, famous for its sunny weather, beaches and luxury, it also adds another attraction: cultural tourism. We will begin a tour through an archaeological Marbella showing a part of its history.
Before starting, it is important to know and appreciate that culture shock plays a major role in a region inhabited for millennia, with important Phoenician, Punic and Roman settlements and with subsequent Visigoth, Byzantine and Muslim presence, turning it into a key point in Mediterranean history.
The early history of Marbella
The early history of the town can be found in the Roman Barbésula, dated from the first century of our chronology. The archaeological remains of this period are located in the mouth of the Green River. Near San Pedro de Alcantara, and also belonging to the municipality, we find the remains of the Roman colony of Cilniana, one of the most interesting sites around the coast of Malaga, which some historians identify with the city of Salduba, mentioned by Pomponio Mela. Near the beach there are some Roman baths which have been named Las Bóvedas (The Vaults).
Another important archaeological site located in San Pedro de Alcantara is the Early Christian Basilica of Vega del Mar, built in the third century and later used by the Visigoths as a necropolis. In the Arab Andalusian period, The city was located on the site now occupied by the village, playing a prominent role in local history. During the time of the Taifa kingdoms, the idrisíds, rulers of the city, maintained a permanent confrontation with the Hammudies of Algeciras, until the arrival of the marinid (1274) who, after taking Marbella and Malaga, unified the territory.
During the Moorish period the place became part of the kingdom of Granada, a situation that would continue until the conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs in 1485. From that period only the old town of Marbella remains, the castle walls and defensive towers.
Marbella in the Twentieth century
In the first decades of the century we find hotels such as Marbella Commercial, opened in 1918. In 1936, the day after the outbreak of the Civil War, several religious buildings were burnt down, including the Santa María de la Encarnación Church and the Church of San Pedro Alcantara.
Since the 1950s, Marbella becomes a favourite place for the entertainment of personalities like José Antonio Girón or Banús, among other people in charge of the tourist development. D. Ricardo Soriano Scholtz von Hermensdorff, Marquis of Ivanrey, acquired a property located between Marbella and San Pedro where he built a resort called “Venta y Albergues El Rodeo”, beginning the development of tourism in Marbella. His nephew, Alfonso de Hohenlohe, acquired Santa Margarita Ranch, the origin of what would be the Marbella Club in 1954. These steps would be seconded later by members of other well-known European families: Bismarck, Rothschild, Thurn und Taxis, Metternich, Goldsmith de Mora and Aragón, Salamanca (Marquis of Salamanca and Count of los Llanos) or the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, turning Marbella into a meeting point for the international jet set. Another of the most emblematic hotels in the city is El Fuerte (Fuerte Marbella today), which among other milestones had the first lift of the Costa del Sol.
The twenty-first century Marbella is a place of relaxation, where you can enjoy outdoor dinners, go shopping during the day and sunbathe or play sports in open spaces because along its 26 kilometres of coastline you can find bars, luxury hotels and beach clubs as well as hundreds of international restaurants and a dozen spectacular golf clubs and sports centres, many with their own restaurants and spas.
Marbella is connected to the famous Puerto Banus by the so-called Milla de Oro, an avenue that runs through wonderful green areas and properties, considered as the most luxurious in Europe. The list of international celebrities who have properties in Marbella or visit it regularly is very long, including personalities ranging from Prince Albert of Monaco to artists such as Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, David and Victoria Beckham, Bruce Willis, Dolf Lundgren and Dustin Hoffman. Puerto Banus is well known for hosting big brand boutiques, nightclubs and restaurants overlooking the spectacular harbour full of yachts and luxury cars.
The coastal strip between Marbella and Estepona has been named “The New Milla de Oro” due to its golf courses and the presence of luxury urban areas. Benahavis is a small white village about 8 kilometres inland from San Pedro de Alcantara. Located along a peaceful green valley, you can find a number of luxury villas that reach Marbella. This is the area where the most exclusive golf and country club in Europe is located.
Marbella as a whole offers a unique way of life. Its wonderful setting, its unique climate and lifestyle in general have turn it into the favourite destination in Europe.
WHERE TO STAY
If you decide to come to Marbella and want to discover it by bicycle, stay at Fuerte Marbella or Fuerte Miramar (also in Marbella). Both complexes have exceptional locations in the centre of town and the first line on the beach, only a few steps away from the historic centre, in an area full of shops and restaurants with terraces.
Fuerte Marbella is a symbol for the city with more than 50 years of experience at your service. The hotel has 263 rooms, all soundproofed and equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV, wireless Internet access and private bathroom with free amenities and hair-dryer, among other services. It is also surrounded by gardens, with superb sea views and 2 outdoor pools.