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Marbella history and culture

Although it’s only been a popular tourist destination since the 1960s, the Costa del Sol is rich in history, having been inhabited by the Phoenicians around 770BC. It later became an important outpost for the Roman Empire and they have left some amazing sites to explore.

As if this wasn’t enough, the region became the capital of the Taifa of Malaga, which gave rise to the spectacular Moorish architecture throughout the region. Finally came the Catholics, as part of the Reconquista. Sadly they destroyed a lot of the great mosques, but built wonderful churches, cathedrals and shrines in their place to demonstrate their faith. A visit to the Costa del Sol can be a trip back through time and by visiting the stunning buildings and settlements stretching back to the 1st Century AD you can learn a lot about the region’s fascinating history.

Last but not least, you can’t talk about culture in Andalucia without talking about flamenco! Flamenco is a passionate, moving music and dance form which was born here and has become one of Spain’s global exports. Visiting the Costa del Sol allows you to see great flamenco live, learn to dance it at one of the great local schools and see it in action as part of the region’s awesome ferias.

In this section we are going to choose some cultural and historical highlights which you can incorporate into your next holiday. We have grouped them into three sections:

Top Marbella cultural and history highlights

The cultural offer of Marbella history in particular and Andalusia in general is impressive. You can enjoy from flamenco shows to DJ’s concerts in private rooms.

Origin of the city

The first settlements in Marbella date back to the Paleolithic. The Romans left a deep imprint that bequeathed the thermal baths of Las Bóvedas or the village of Río Verde. Later the Visigoths arrived and we inherited the paleochristian basilica of Vega del Mar. The Muslims already called it the “well inhabited” building a huge wall. When the Muslim Marbella was taken by the Catholic Monarchs (1485), the town abandoned the walled enclosure of the castle to spread throughout the area. In the 19th century Marbella became the national capital of the iron and steel industry with the first blast furnaces in Spain. 75% of the iron that was smelted in Spain came from the El Peñoncillo estate, which was exploited until 1931. Marbella lived before and after the civil war with the collapse of its economy, which recovered from the phenomenon of tourism. The spectacular transformation began in 1940 and took off from 1943.

The city was transformed to accommodate visitors, homes were remodeled and the value of the land changed. In the 50’s the first builders of the “Mecca of tourism” arrived in Marbella, Alfonso de Holenlohe and José Banús. The latter undertook a titanic development with the largest urbanization known in the country until then, the macro-project called “Puerto Banús”, which included several hotels.

In the 80’s, the Arabs arrived as major investors. King Fahd built a palace in the town on a gigantic fenced estate and the Marbella Mosque was built. For decades Marbella has been at the forefront of financial and real estate investments and has been built little by little as we know it today.

Fall in love with Marbella

It is easy to fall in love with the city just by strolling through its old town. Marbella has an ancient walled enclosure in which are the two historic suburbs of the city: the Barrio Alto, which extends to the north, and the Barrio Nuevo, located to the east, preserved virtually intact since the sixteenth century. In the center of this old town is the Plaza de Los Naranjos, a clear example of Castilian urbanism of the Renaissance, built after the Christian conquest, and which is the nerve center of the old town.

Located between the old town and the sea, we find the area known as the historical expansion, where the Paseo de la Alameda, the botanical garden, and the Avenida del Mar, a landscaped road with fountains and a magnificent collection of ten sculptures by the Catalan artist Salvador Dalí, which connects the old town with the beach.

Between Marbella and Puerto Banús there are four kilometers of distance known as “The Golden Mile“. In this stretch are located some of the most luxurious residences in Marbella, such as the Palace of King Fahd, homes of the most prestigious international celebrities or the most emblematic hotels in the city.

On the other hand, Marbella has 27 km of coastline, divided into 24 beaches of different characteristics, most of them with blue flag. In general they are beaches of moderate waves with fine-grained golden sand, some of the best known are the beach of Cabo Pino or Artola Beach.

More about Marbella culture

You can learn more about the cultural activities that Marbella and the Costa del Sol have to offer by reading our articles, they will help you to have a great experience in the city.