Marbella is at the heart of the Costa del Sol and a favorite of most Spaniards. It is a great spot to visit during their annual fair in June, La Feria de San Bernabe. Though the feria will likely take up most of your time, take a moment away from the feria frenzy and catch a glimpse of Marbella as it really is. Rich in history and beauty, you will find beautiful parks and gardens, plazas filled with sweet smelling orange trees, Moorish decorations on preserved facades, art and ancient castles and churches scattered throughout Marbella.
You can take a leisurely dip in the Mediterranean and after stop in at the closest "Chiringuitos" (cafes on the sand) where you can get delicious grilled sardines, Spanish style! Minutes away, you can lose yourself walking the labyrinth of charming streets of whitewashed houses and shops adorned with colorful pottery and floating arches of bouganvillae. You will feel as if you have stepped back in time, to the time when the
Marbellas origins date all the way back to 1600 BC, when it was founded by the Romans and called "Salduba" as a trading post and agricultural settlement. 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", of which it remains today.
There are many worthwhile sites to take in while in Marbella........that is, if you can be torn away from the sun, sea and sand! You can visit many historic structures in town, such as the Baroque style 18th C Incarnation Church and tower which was part of the wall that used to surround the town; the Plaza de Naranjas where many important buildings are located - Town Hall, Magistrate's House, Santiago's Chapel and the town's first Christian temple.
You can also visit a Castle, Saint John's Chapel built in Mudejar Gothic style, and the Bazán Hospital that now houses the Contemporary Spanish Engravings Museum where there are works by Picasso, Miro, and Dali; and the Cortijo de Miraflores which is the old olive and sugar mill (currently and exhibition hall).
If sightseeing is not for you, there are many other things to do such as diving, trekking, off roading, riding horses, surfing, jet skiing, sailing, etc. On Monday's you can visit the colorful and bustling outdoor market where you can buy anything from clothes to produce.
There is no shortage of shopping in Marbella, that is for sure. But shopping can be taken to an entirely new level when you go to the Spainsh equivalent of Beverly Hills.....Puerto Banus. Rows of million dollar boats take refuge in this resort-like marina. Visitors walk the waterfront, lined with fancy restaurants and clubs and gawk at the boats and fancy cars.
Once you have recovered from the shock of your 6 euro coffee, consider going out of Marbella and visiting some other beach towns or go inland. In as little as one hour you can be in Torremolinos, Malaga, Mijas, Estepona or Ronda. Each Spanish town is unique and has its own personality.
So, don't be fooled into thinking that Marbella is culturally void because whether you're into Picasso's paintings, Roman mosaics or modern dance, traditional costume or candlelight ballet, Marbella is nothing short of a culture lovers paradise!
Article by Craig Edmonds