Marbella is a city as well as a municipality belonging to the province of Málaga nestled on the Costa del Sol, along the Mediterranean in the autonomous community of Andalusia. The city is home to the headquarters of the Association of Municipalities of the region and it is the head of the judicial district that bears its name.
Situated in a privileged landscape on the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar, in the foothills of Sierra Blanca, the municipality covers an area of 117 square kilometres. The second most populated city in the province of Málaga and the eighth largest in Andalusia, Marbella is one of the most sought after destinations for tourists due to its unique climate and excellent tourist infrastructure.
The city also boasts a significant archaeological heritage, several museums, performance spaces with a cultural calendar of international events ranging from reggae concerts to opera, attracting some of the world’s most famous contemporary performers.
The first settlement on the present site of Marbella was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC. Artefacts of Phoenicians and later Carthaginian settlements have been unearthed in various parts of the municipality, including the fields of Rio Real and Cerro Torrón.
El Casco Antiguo (Old Town) was the centre of a Roman community. Evidence of the exitance of this Roman community is found in a section of the Murallas del Castillo (walls of a Moorish castle) and La Calle Escuelas (School Street) as well as other remains scattered throughout the old town. West of the city, nestled on the grounds of the all famous Hotel Puente Romano lies a small, 1st-century Roman bridge over a stream. Other ruins such as the Villa Romana along the Río Verde (Green River) and the Roman baths at the Río de Gudalmina (Guadalmina River) are a testament of their existence. A Byzantine basilica located at Vega del Mar, built in the 3rd century and surrounded by a paleo-Christian necropolis which was later used as a burial ground by the Visigoths is further proof that the Romans once occupied Marbella. In Roman times the city was called Salduba (Salt City).
During the Islamic Rule, after the Normans lay waste to the coast of Málaga in the 10th century, the Caliphate of Córdoba fortified the coastline and built a string of several lighthouse towers along with it. They built a citadel, the Alcazaba, and a wall to protect the town of Marbella. It was made up of narrow streets and small buildings with large patios, as is the Old Town of Marbella today. The most famous structures are the citadel and the mosque. On the 11th of June 1485, Marbella was handed over to the Crown of Castile. It was the end of the Islamic rule in Marbella and the start of Christian dominance with the Catholic Monarchs. Plaza de Los Naranjos (Orange Square) was built around this time along with some historical buildings surrounding the square. Fuerte de San Luis de Marbella (Fort Saint Luis of Marbella) was built in 1554 by Charles V. Today the ruins of the fort have been transformed into a museum. In 1860 the 1st Marquess del Duero founded an agricultural colony, now known as San Pedro de Alcantara.
Marbella and Casares were the two municipalities that suffered the most violence during the Spanish Civil War. Numerous religious buildings were set on fire. Only the Church of St. Mary of the Incarnation and the Church of San Pedro Alcantara spared. The Nationalist forces seized Marbella during the first months of the war, with the help of Fascist Italian troops. Marbella became populated with Nazis during the 2nd World War.
There was not much left of Marbella after the 2nd World War. It was a small fisherman town with 900 inhabitants. Ricardo Soriano, Marquis of Ivanrey, decided to move to Marbella and with his lavish lifestyle and influential friends of the higher society, together they turned Marbella into the playground for the rich and famous, as it is known today. This was the start of the Marbella’s fame for its ability to cater to wealthy, famous tourists.
In 1954 Soriano’s nephew, Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg opened the Marbella Club, one of Marbella’s landmarks. It was then an international resort that catered to movie star the likes of Brigitte Bardot, wealthy business executives and nobility. European aristocratic families the likes of Bismarck, Rothschild, Thurn und Taxis, Metternich, de Mora y Aragon, de Salamanca or Thyssen-Bornemisza, frequented the Marbella Club. The hotel transformed Marbella from a humble fisherman’s village into a destination for the international jet-set. Thanks to Prince Alfonso’s connections with the royal courts of Europe, the Marbella Club became popular with vacationing members of Europe’s social elites for its casual but discreet luxury.
In 1966, Prince Alfonso brought in a Beverly Hills architect and, with the assistance of the Banus family, who were personal friends of dictator Francisco Franco, they built the high-end marina, Puerto Banus. The marina officially opened its doors to discerning tourists in 1970. Celebrities in attendance included Franco’s designated successor, Juan Carlos (then Prince of Asturias), Prince Rainier of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelly as well as Aga Khan IV; entertainers included no other than Julio Iglesias.
In the 1980s, Marbella boomed in popularity as a jet-set destination. In 1991, the then president of Club Atlético de Madrid, Jesús Gil, was elected mayor of Marbella. During that time actor, Sean Connery became Marbella’s international spokesman. During Gil’s administration, Marbella experienced an economic boom. Property developers started building at an astronomical rate. Spanish celebrities continued to spend their summer holidays in Marbella. Since Marbella remains one of Europe’s most sought after luxury destinations and one of the favoured areas for second home residence under the sun.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Casco Antiguo (Old Town)
The Casco Antiguo of Marbella includes the ancient city walls and the two historic neighbourhoods of the city: the Barrio Alto and the Barrio Nuevo. The ancient walled city is nearly identical to its original layout in the 16th century. Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square) is home to a variety of terraced restaurants under a panorama of bright orange trees that give off a delicious, romantic scent as you walk through. The square is also home to the town hall, built in 1568 by Catholic Monarchs. The Mayor’s house is a combination of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and the San Tiago Chapel, the oldest religious establishment in Marbella is also to be found in this lively area, embedded deep in history.
The Chapel was built before the square, in the 15th century. Other historical sites of interest include the Church of Santa María de la Encarnación, built in 1618. The Casa del Roque, remains of the Moorish fortress is a reminded that Marbella was once ruled by the Moors. La Capilla de San Juan de Dios, el Hospital Real de la Misericordia and the museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings are all very interesting sites to visit for lovers of culture and history.
The Golden Miles
The Golden Mile is a four-mile (6.4 km) stretch beginning at the edge of Marbella city to Puerto Banús the far west end of the city. This area is home to some prestigious landmarks, including the Marbella Club and the Puente Romano hotel. It is also a privileged residential area with some of the most luxurious properties including villas and apartments boasting spectacular mountain and Mediterranean views. The fantastic sea views also expose Africa and Gibraltar in the horizon.
Some of the famous residential areas by the sea ,in this area, include Alhambra del Mar, La Alcazaba, Las Torres, Los Verdiales, Marbellamar, Marina Marbella, Oasis, Rio Verde and Santa Margarita. On the mountainside of the Golden Mile, we have Sierra Blanca, Nagüeles, Cascada de Camoján, Jardines Colgantes, Marbella Hill Club, El Venero, El Batatal, La Capellania, La Virginia, Carolina, El Vicario, Altos de Salamanca, Casas del Señorio de Marbella, Coto Real, and Ancon Sierra.
Developed around a coastal town within the Nueva Andalucia district of Marbella, Puerto Banús boasts a luxurious Mediterranean style architecture. The leisure port is home to a wealth of luxury brand shops, restaurants and bars. The marina was built in 1970 by José Banús, a local property developer. The idea was to build a luxury marina and shopping centre. It has since become one of the biggest highlights of the Costa del Sol and welcomes over 5 million visitors per annum, including international celebrities.
Los Monteros is a high-end district of, east of the city, nestled along the Mediterranean Sea and also boasts fantastic views of the surrounding mountain range. This spectacular neighbourhood is just a 15-minute drive from Marbella city centre and located a stone’s throw from the renown Costa del Sol Hospital. A famous Spanish banker, Ignacio Coca, built the world-renown hotel, Los Monteros in 1962, the Rio Real Golf Course adjacent in 1965 and the medical spa, Hotel Incosol, in 1973. In 1970 they built a beachside estate comprising of plots to build luxurious villas known as Urbanizacion Reserva de Los Monteros. Since several beautiful developments have sprung up in the area including Urbanzacion Bahia Real, Urbanizacion Las Brisas and Golf Rio Real Village, to name a few.
Sierra Blanca is an urbanisation located 300 metres above sea level, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to Africa as well as Marbella’s lush Golden Mile. It is the extension of the Golden Mile, nestled in the lavish mountain hills of Marbella. This exclusive residential area sits at the foothills of La Concha, one of Marbella’s geographical emblems. La Concha is the peak of the Marbella mountain range and takes the shape of a shell (concha in Spanish), hence its name. Sierra Blanca boasts some of the area’s most exclusive residences including breath-taking architectural designs and high-end luxury apartments. The views are spectacular and its proximity to the city centre is convenient, with services and amenities all a short distance away.
This gated community is said to be one of the most expensive housing estate in the world. Nestled in the foothills, just above San Pedro de Alcantara, La Zagaleta is a truly exceptional resort and country club. With over 900 hectares of a combination of quaint valleys, picturesque hillside and splendid views of the Mediterranean Sea, Africa and Gibraltar; this unique location is home to a handful of sumptuous villas, each snuggled in their private landscape. A mere 10-minute drive to the city of Marbella, La Zagaleta offers a lavish and very private lifestyle in the comfort of your own home and the practicality of being within easy reach of all amenities, entertainment and services when required. Celebrity home-owners in La Zagaleta include actor, Hugh Grant, the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, president of Russia, Vladimir Putin and rock star, Rod Stewart.
Guadalmina is a beachside district located to the west of Marbella, the city. There are two parts to this quaint resort, originally populated by the wealthy professionals and aristocrats of Madrid: Guadalmina Baja and Guadalmina Alta. Guadalmina Baja lies right along the Mediterranean from San Pedro to the east to the Guadalmina River to the west, which consequently is the natural border between the region of Marbella and Estepona. Guadalmina Alta refers to the part on the mountainside of the A7/N340 coast road. Guadalmina is a mature urbanisation mostly developed in the 1980s. It is conveniently located, a stone’s throw from San Pedro de Alcantara and Puerto Banús.
La Quinta is a popular setting for residential living and a great place for holidaymakers, especially for golfers. Tucked into the gentle folds of the areas spectacular valleys, is it just a short distance from the town of Marbella and a mere 5 minutes away from San Pedro de Alcantara, but the beauty of La Quinta is its countryside appeal and wonderful golf courses. The area enjoys a mild-microclimate and scenic views over the Mediterranean, Africa in the distance and Gibraltar. This rather exclusive residential area comprises a combination of beautiful villas, high-spec apartments and some of the most beautifully designed townhouses. Most dwellings overlook the verdant fairways of the La Quinta Golf Club, which meanders across the valley including majestic, decorative ponds.
Elviria is a lively, low-density residential area located east of Marbella, the city. Elviria boasts some of the most beautiful beaches of the Marbella region, offering pleasant living by the seaside and into the lush, green foothills of the area, with spectacular panoramic views over the Mediterranean, Africa in the distance and Gibraltar. This area has a wealth of amenities at your doorstep, including speciality shops and a wonderful choice of international culinary specialities, including German, Scandinavian, French, Italian and Asian restaurants and cafés. The this multi-cultural area was first populated by the Germans in the 80s and 90s. Now it attracts foreign residents from all over the world. This beautiful area is covered with vegetation, mostly native pine trees and cork oaks. Elviria mainly comprises of villas and private gardens with a few low rise apartment complexes that blend nicely into the picturesque landscape. Just a ten-minute drive is the bustling city centre of Marbella. Elviria Hills, including La Mairena and El Soto de Marbella, offers views of the majestic Sierra Nevada. In the winter you can see its lovely white peaks, covered in snow at a distance. Unique to this green zone, Elviria is surrounded by a UNESCO biosphere reserve – La Sierra de las Nieves.
Marbella – A Foodie’s Paradise
The Marbella Restaurant scene has always been one of the destination’s main appeals for both locals and tourists alike. Marbella is home to 4 Michelin star restaurants, a large spectrum of cosmopolitan bistros, beachfront-dining spots, health and wellbeing focused cafés, hidden gems that only real foodies know about, simply stunning bakeries and coffee shops and of course the very best authentic Spanish restaurants and Tapas bars.
There are many delicious places to pick from. Here is a small selection of some of our favourites:
Nueva Andalucía, Calle Los Lirios, 29660 Marbella, Málaga.
+34 952 036 494
Calle Juan Belmonte, Nueva Andalucía, Marbella, Málaga.
+34 952 814 145
Av. Severo Ochoa, 12, 29603 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 864 895
Avda. Del Prado 4, Aloha Gardens, Nueva Andalucía, Marbella, Málaga.
+34 951 279 188
Avda. Andalucia 6, local 2, San Pedro de Alcántara, Marbella, Málaga.
+34 951 531 777
Puente Romano Resort, Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, Golden Mile,
+34 952 778 686
Av. Antonio Belón 4, Marbella city centre, Marbella, Málaga.
+34 952 824 108
Calle Aduar, 12, 29601 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 765 277
Avda. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, 178, 29602 Marbella
+34 951 554 554
Calle Ancha, 8, Marbella Old Town, 2960, Marbella
+34 952 900 450
Carr. de Cádiz, km 192, 29604 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 836 239
Urbanización Coto de los Dolores, Calle Carril del Relojero, s/n, 29604 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 83 94 58
Av. Cervantes, s/n, 29604 Marbella, Málaga
+34 633 155 109
Calle Jabalí, 29603 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 762 720
Av. Duque de Ahumada, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga
+34 951 562 887
Urbanización Coral Beach Ctra. Nacional 340, Km. 176, 29602 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 777 299
Chiringuito Victors Beach Marbella
km. 177, Playa El Ancon 0, 29602 Marbella, MÁLAGA, N-340
+34 639 553 088
Calle José Echegaray, 0, 29670 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 113 618
S/N, Urbanizacion Linda Vista Baja, 29670 San Pedro Alcántara, Málaga
+34 952 789 100
Av. Carmen Sevilla, s/n, 29670 Marbella, Málaga
+34 952 789 328
Plaza Jose Luque Manzano s/n, 29603 Marbella, Málaga
+34 951 568 203
Andalucia is one of Europe’s foremost golfing destinations, including 100s of golf courses. Year-round, sunny and a spectacular variety of courses including mountain and sea views, make this region a hugely popular choice for golfers from all over the world. The region of Marbella offers golf courses for all standards of players, on all terrains, and is home to some of the most prestigious clubhouses. There are several golf clubs in the Marbella region, including what is known as the Golfer’s Paradise, an area of the region – Nueva Andalucia, has a high concentration of spectacular golf courses.
Aloha Golf Course Los Naranjos Golf Course
Magna Marbella Golf Course Real Club de Golf Las Brisas
Guadalmina Norte Guadalmina Sur
Marbella Club Golf Resort
La Quinta Golf and Country Club
Monte Paraíso Golf Golf Río Real
Santa María Golf and Country Club
San Pedro de Alcantara
Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club
Swans International primary and secondary schools Aloha College
English International College The British School of Marbella
German School of Marbella Laude San Pedro
Calpe San Pedro Sotogrande International School
Marbella Montessori School
HC Marbella Quirón Salud Marbella
Hospital Ochoa Hospital Ceram
Wellbeing clinics: Buchinger Wilhelmi, Molding Clinic Costa Del Sol Hospital