The municipality of Marbella, with an area of 117 km², extends to the south of the province of Málaga, integrated in the region of Costa del Sol Occidental. It occupies a strip that stretches along 27 kilometers of densely urbanized coastline, of low and sandy altitude, with beaches that become more extensive as you move from west to east.
Marbella is flanked in the north by Sierra Bermeja, Sierra Palmitera, Sierra Real, Sierra Blanca and Sierra Alpujata, while the highest point is reached at Cerro Lastonar, at 1270 meters. These mountain ranges are relatively close to the sea and it originates short water courses and overcoming steep slopes, generating some torrents. In addition, this makes the municipality enjoy a microclimate that causes an average annual temperature of 18 °C, with annual rainfall of about 628 l/m² and with around 2900 hours of sun per year. In some of these mountain ranges born the different rivers that are within the municipality of Marbella, of which we must highlight River Guadalmina, River Guadaiza, River Verde and River Real.
Most of the unbuilt land in Marbella is allocated to golf courses or small residual areas such as Artola Dunes. This is a protected natural space located at the eastern end of the municipality, on the beachfront.
The city of Marbella is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and Strait of Gibraltar, and at the bottom of Sierra Blanca. It is among the most populated municipalities in the province of Málaga and Andalusia. During the summer months it can reach peaks of more than 500,000 people.
The municipality of Marbella limits to the north with the municipalities of Istán and Ojén, to the northwest with Benahavís, to the west with Estepona, to the east with Mijas and to the south with the Mediterranean Sea. It is administratively divided into five districts: San Pedro de Alcántara, Nueva Andalucía, Marbella West, Marbella East and Las Chapas. In the district of Las Chapas the residences of many famous people are concentrated, as well as notable tourist establishments such as Ciudad Residencial Tiempo Libre and Don Carlos Hotel.
In the approximate four kilometers that separate the urban core of Marbella from Puerto Banús (the Golden Mile and Nueva Andalucía), some of the most luxurious residences in Marbella are located, such as the Palace of King Fahd, as well as some of the most emblematic, such as Meliá Don Pepe, Marbella Club Hotel and Puente Romano Hotel.
Marbella is one of the most important tourist cities on Costa del Sol and in all Spain. During most of the year it is a center of attraction for international tourism thanks mainly to its climate and tourist infrastructure. In this way, the municipality is crossed by the A-7 Mediterranean motorway and the AP-7 Mediterranean turnpike, the two main accesses to Marbella.
In addition, newspapers and magazines are published in Marbella in various European languages such as La Tribuna de Marbella, in Spanish, Sydkusten, in Swedish and Costa del Sol Nachrichten, in German. Also, Diario Sur and La Opinión de Málaga, in Spanish, and Sur in English, have newsrooms in the city. It has several local television stations and digital news newspapers.
The current municipal area of Marbella has already been inhabited since the Paleolithic and during the Neolithic, as found remains confirm. The Phoenicians also settled in these lands as evidenced by River Real site, located near its mouth that dates back to the 8th century B.C. During Roman times there was a nucleus of population that today is the old town, as is shown by the ashlars of the wall and the three Ionic capitals embedded in it, as well as many other remains found in the town and its surroundings, such as the Roman town of River Verde, the Roman baths of Las Bóvedas, at the mouth of River Guadalmina, and the remains of the Paleo-Christian Basilica of Vega del Mar, surrounded by a Visigothic necropolis.
The origin of the name of Marbella is from a pre-Roman era, as result of the union of the terms ma and ar, which results in sea which means "a lot of water", with the term bila or billa, which means "mountain". From this we deduce that the name of Marbella in ancient times meant "mount with a lot of water".
During the Arab domination, a castle was built in the 10th century and, later, several beacon towers and a fence that protected the city. This consisted of narrow streets and small buildings with large courtyards, as well as the alcazaba and the mosque. Bordering the fence were orchards with fig and mulberry crops mainly.
In 1485, Marbella passed into the hands of the Crown of Castile and the Catholic Monarchs gave it the title of city to make it the head of the region and the royal. From this period is the Oranges Square and some of the adjacent historical buildings.
In the middle of the 17th century, with the introduction of sugar cane as a crop on the entire coast of the province of Málaga, the construction of sugar mills began, such as the Trapiche del Prado in Marbella. Also in this century, the Fort of St. Luis (where Hotel El Fuerte is now located), Church of Holy Christ of True Cross and Church of Calvary were built.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Marbella became the largest producer of cast iron in Spain, with the construction of the blast furnaces of Marbella, which operated with iron from the Ojén mine and wood from the mountains, being the first civilian blast furnaces from Spain. In the sixties of that same century, an agricultural colony was founded, giving rise to the nucleus of San Pedro de Alcántara, from that time it is the Villa of St. Luis, current Tenure of Mayor of the town. At the end of the century, with the dismantling of the steel industry and the crisis in traditional agriculture, aggravated by the phylloxera plague, a social crisis was originated in Marbella with poverty and starvation of many day laborers who died of starvation. The population was divided between a small group of oligarchs and the people, the middle class being practically non-existent.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Marbella has become the destination of choice for leisure for numerous Spanish and international personalities. Those responsible for tourism development in the municipality have provided a meeting point for the international jet set.
Nowadays, Marbella remains one of the most popular tourist destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists.
In the municipality of Marbella, one of the most touristic in the province of Málaga, you will discover a wide cultural heritage with endless things to see during your visit.
You can start with the old town, which encompasses the old walled enclosure and the two historical suburbs of the city, Barrio Alto, which extends to the north, and Barrio Nuevo, located to the east. The walled enclosure retains the same floor approximately as in the sixteenth century. Here you will see the Oranges Square, which is the nerve center of the old town of Marbella.
Around the square there are three buildings of historical interest. The first is the Marbella Town Hall, a three-story Renaissance-style building with beautiful stone carved shields commemorating the reconquest of Marbella by the Catholic Monarchs, who ordered its construction.
The second is the Corregidor House, a stately building from the mid-16th century, with an emblazoned stone facade, which houses a three-arched viewpoint, where Gothic and Renaissance elements are combined. The ceiling is in Mudejar style and contains fresco murals.
And finally, the Hermitage of Santiago, from the XV century. It is the oldest religious building in the city of Marbella. It has a single rectangular nave covered in double slopes of Moorish tiles. It is the headquarters of the Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of Love, Mary Most Holy of Charity and Saint John the Evangelist.
Very close to the Oranges Square you will see the Marbella Castle, occupying a large block. It is a caliphal castle, dating from the early tenth century with subsequent reforms. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Site and preserves one of the towers and part of the wall.
If you continue exploring the center of Marbella, you will find more religious buildings such as the Church of Incarnation, located in Church Square and built throughout the 17th century, although it underwent subsequent reforms. It has three naves separated by semicircular arches that are supported by cruciform pillars. Outside, the four-bodied tower finished off with a pyramidal capital and about 50 meters high, and a weather vane stand out. The main door is carved in ocher stone and is in a rococo style.
You can also see the Chapel of St. John of God from the 16th century. It has a simple floor, with a stone doorway to the chapel framed in a semi-circular arch and a door carved with the city shield and a grenade, symbol of the ancient Kingdom of Granada. Inside, the Mozarabic coffered ceiling and fragments of some frescoes stand out. It is located in the old town and is part of the old Royal Hospital, built by the Catholic Monarchs after taking the city.
Another more current chapel in Marbella is the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, from the year 1994 and located in Holy Sepulchre Square. It is dedicated to the Christ of Good Death and Our Lady of Tears. It is located next to the Bazán Hospital, identified with the stately domestic architecture of the 16th century where Gothic elements coexist with Mudejar and Renaissance elements. Its name is due to its function between the 17th and 19th centuries and its creator, Alonso de Bazán. It currently houses the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving.
Apart from these religious buildings, in the historic center of Marbella you will see other buildings such as the Mercy Hospital Cultural Center, founded by the Catholic Monarchs in the 16th century. It was part of the town hospital and combines Renaissance, Gothic and Mudejar elements. It stands out for its stone-carved door, its wooden door with the royal coat of arms and from the order of St. John of God and the roof of the chapel with Mudejar armor.
But that will not be the only cultural center that you can see in Marbella. In San Pedro de Alcántara Street is located the Cortijo Miraflores Cultural Center, built in the early eighteenth century. It houses an oil museum, an archeology exhibition and the historical section of the Marbella Municipal Archive. It also has three exhibition rooms where cultural events are held, and a patio for weddings and other activities.
In Altamirano Square is the Casona de los Cano Saldaña, a stately house from the 16th century that retains its original structure, with locksmiths on the balconies and windows typical of the time.
The Church of Holy Christ is located within the walled area of Marbella, more specifically in the Holy Christ Square in Barrio Alto. It dates from the 16th century but in the 18th century it was enlarged, adding a dressing room tower. It has a single nave. Inside stands out the choir located at the foot that uses a Tuscan column for its support that sinks into the baptismal font located under it. Outwardly, the facade of carved stone and armor stones, a small bell tower and the exterior of the dressing room with an octagonal structure and the square tower with a roof covered by glazed ceramic stand out.
On Sea Avenue you can see what is known as Dalí Sculptures in the Open Air and that it is an exhibition of ten non-original sculptures of Salvador Dalí, outdoors. They are a tourist attraction that is worth seeing while you are in Marbella.
Taking a look at the origins of the municipality of Marbella you can find the Roman town of River Verde, a site located at the mouth of River Verde. A country house whose owner belonged to the Roman ruling class, and, next to it, a production center dedicated to salting fish. It is built around a patio that was accessed directly from the outside.
In the town of San Pedro de Alcántara, within the municipality of Marbella, there are also interesting monuments that you should not miss. These may be religious in scope such as the 19th century Church of San Pedro de Alcántara, located in Church Square and in colonial style with a beautiful central altarpiece and images of vaults on the sides, or the Paleo-Christian Basilica of Vega del Mar which It forms a group consisting of a double apse basilica and a necropolis. Chronologically it was active between the 3rd and 7th centuries, and is considered one of the oldest archaeological manifestations of early Christianity. From it, the bases of the vertical faces are preserved. Archaeological remains have been found in the area, such as clay pots, jewelery, coins and epigraphic plates, most of which are burial items that are kept in the National Archaeological Museum, the Provincial Archaeological Museum and the Marbella Town Hall.
The Roman baths of Las Bóvedas are from the Roman era in the vicinity of San Pedro de Alcántara. This site is located next to the mouth of the River Guadalmina and it is a thermal building from the 3rd century, one of the most unique among those preserved from that time.
Finally, outside the religious sphere and of a more recent era, this town from Marbella has the Trapiche Guadaiza Cultural Center, in the direction of Nueva Andalucía. It was a mill to make sugar that used water as a driving force through an aqueduct, of which some arches are still preserved. It dates from the first third of the 19th century and is currently a cultural center.
Marbella has developed its tourism sector around coastal tourism taking advantage of its beaches and the infrastructures that have been built to favor it. These beaches, collected on the 27 km of coastline of the municipality of Marbella, are 24 beaches of different characteristics, all urban or semi-urban. However, there are twelve beaches that are the most representative of Marbella, arranged from west to east.
Apart from its beaches, if you are a lover of cultural tourism, Marbella has a great offer so that you can take advantage of your visit acquiring new knowledge. In the event that what interests you is art, Marbella offers you the Contemporary Spanish Engraving Museum, located in the Bazán Hospital. It has a collection of more than four thousand engravings, of all kinds of trends and of the most significant authors of the Spanish contemporary artistic scene, such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tàpies, etc. It also has a room dedicated to a didactic exhibition on engraving techniques.
Another museum specialized in art is the Ralli Museum, located in the Coral Beach Urbanization of Marbella. This has ten exhibition rooms where you can enjoy a collection of contemporary works of art from Latin America and Europe, with a special presence of artists and surrealist works from both continents.
Also in the municipality of Marbella you can find a great offer in art. There is a considerable number of galleries offering a range of works of art of all kinds and of high quality, such as rugs, copper items, leather, brass, wood, embroidery, bronze, openwork, artistic locksmith, plaster, traditional and artistic forging, jewelry, macrame and marble carving.
Within art, we must not forget the Marbella City Municipal Theater, where you can attend all kinds of acts, such as theater, concerts, ballets, opera, etc. It is located in Ramón Martínez Square and with a capacity of 480 seats, it is the excellence scenic space in Marbella city. Its programming and general operation is managed and coordinated from the Culture Municipal Delegation.
In San Pedro de Alcántara you can visit the Mechanical Art Museum, located in El Ingenio Cultural Center. It is dedicated to unique machines made from disposable parts.
To learn more about the history of Marbella, you can visit the Municipal Archeology Collection, made up of archaeological pieces found in the municipality, or the Cortijo Miraflores Cultural Center, where, apart from the oil museum, there is an exhibition of archeology and a historical section of the Marbella Municipal Archive.
On the other hand, if the objective of your visit is to enjoy nature, Marbella offers you the Bonsai Museum located in Stream of Represa Urban Park. It is a botanical museum that displays a collection of bonsai and miniature forests, where a collection of wild olive trees stands out, which are displayed on sculpted stone from Torcal de Antequera.
But this is not all, because within the urban space of the different population centers in Marbella, you can find different parks and gardens in which to stroll, play sports or simply relax in a quiet environment. Some of these parks are located on the periphery of the population centers. The following division shows you the attractions of the parks and gardens that you can visit in Marbella.
Continuing in the field of nature, Marbella give you a natural environment that you can explore outside the population centers, either along its coast or between the mountains that border the municipality.
To do this, it offers you a series of hiking routes that will take you comfortably to the most beautiful places in the environment. Two of these routes correspond to two stages of the Great Path of Málaga:
There are other routes with a longer route, such as the 43 km Puerta Verde de Marbella - Ronda Route. This begins in the Aloha urbanization in Marbella, next to the Aloha Golf Club in Marbella, and ends in the urban area of Ronda.
Other hiking routes that are promoted by the Environment Delegation of the Marbella City Council are: Old Path from Istán - Cantera de Sierra Blanca (PAR 140), Marbella - Juanar (PRA 169), Nagüeles - Buenavista - Los Monjes Route, Los Monjes Route, Vereda del Faro or Three Valleys Route, which begins and ends in Puerto Rico Bajo, at the height of La Cañada Shopping Center.
In addition to these hiking routes, in Marbella you can have fun in the largest adventure park of Andalusia, the Aventura Amazonia Theme Park, located in the Elviria area, which has more than 70 games and 20 zip lines on 6 circuits for the adventure located in a wide pine forest. Or you can do some of the many nature-related activities available in the Marbella environment, whether they are land sports such as 4x4 routes, canyoning, BTT, climbing, caving, paintball, via ferrata, bungee jumping, etc. or water sports such as trawling, parasailing, jet skis, water skiing, wakeboarding, flyboarding, boat rental, etc.
However, when you want to practice sports you can also through the public municipal sports facilities that Marbella has, such as a football stadium, a municipal sports center and a series of sport centers distributed by the municipality, such as El Arquillo Sport Center, River Huelo Sport Center or Paco Cantos Sport Center, as well as a high-performance rhythmic gymnastics center.
Among the private facilities in Marbella are fifteen golf courses, four marinas, as well as numerous clubs for horseback riding, tennis, ultralight flights, etc. and numerous gyms. Regarding golf courses, it is interesting to note that Marbella offers the highest concentration of golf courses in continental Europe, all of them of very high quality.
As maritime facilities, the municipality of Marbella has these four marinas: Puerto Banús, Puerto Deportivo de Marbella, Puerto Deportivo de Cabopino and Puerto Deportivo Marina Bajadilla. These offer a total of more than 1500 moorings and are benchmarks for leisure. Of the four, Puerto Banús, collects luxury and elite, with large yachts and luxury boats. The Puerto Deportivo de Marbella and Puerto Deportivo Marina Bajadilla, without being so ostentatious, offer a large number of facilities for water sports. Puerto Banús and Puerto Deportivo Marina Bajadilla are enabled for the reception of cruises. Lastly, the Puerto Deportivo de Cabopino is smaller but not less attractive for that reason. None of the four operates regular routes with other marinas.
Some national and international sporting events take place in Marbella, among which the Andalusia Tennis Experience and Grand Prix Costa del Sol of sailing stand out, as well as other local events such as the Swimming Crossing of the Marbella Marina, the Beach Volleyball Tournament, the Marbella City Aquathlon, the Marbella 4 Days Walking, the Marbella City Race or the San Pedro de Alcántara Popular Walk.
Finally, regarding leisure, the municipality of Marbella presents you with a wide range that will allow you to carry out activities of all kinds and have fun in a big way. It has several malls to shopping and leisure, among which La Cañada, Plaza del Mar and Marina Banús stand out.
You will be able to live the night with intensity due to the great nightlife and its great fame thanks to its discos and important clubs that attract many tourists from all over the world. It also has several spaces for holding events and large concerts.
The municipality of Marbella enjoys a large number of celebrations throughout the year, whether they are traditional festivals or artistic and cultural events.
Chronologically, the first celebration in Marbella is the cavalcade of the three kings, in which the streets of the center are walked around distributing candies. These candies are suitable for celiac children, they do not contain gluten.
In February different events take place, although none are original from Marbella. The first is Carnival, in which you can dress up and enjoy a party in the Stream of Represa Urban Park, where the traditional Burial of the Sardine is celebrated. The second is Valentine's Day, in which, although no special event takes place, Marbella becomes a highly sought after destination for couples for its romantic offerings, both accommodation and restaurants. The third and last one is Andalusia Day, on February 28 and on Las Albarizas Avenue there are musical performances and free tasting of paella.
Between the months of March and April, depending on the year, Holy Week takes place, which was rescued in Marbella in the mid-1990s. March 17 is St. Patrick's Day, with painting workshops for the expensive, bouncy castles for children, food, beer and much more.
On May 3 the first traditional festival of the year takes place in Marbella. This is the Pilgrimage of Cruz de Juanar, in which the inhabitants go on pilgrimage to the Cruz de Juanar, located in Sierra Blanca.
During the month of June you will have the Marbella Fair, also known as the St. Bernabé Fair, in honor of the patron saint of Marbella. It is celebrated in the week of June 11, by day it takes place in the center of Marbella and at night it is transferred to the fairgrounds, both are full of parties, folklore, music, etc. On these days the Pilgrimage of St. Bernabé is also celebrated.
The third week of June you will find the International Art Fair, with works of art exhibited on Sea Avenue. While on the night of June 23-24, you will enjoy the St. John's Night, held on the various Marbella beaches with moragas and music.
Marbella brings you in July the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, patron saint of fishermen. It is July 16 with a procession between the fishing port and Puerto Banús, to later take it to the sea accompanied by a large number of boats. This day is celebrated in the different municipalities of Costa del Sol.
Also the month of the most important charity gala in Spain, the Starlite Marbella. It is performed in La Cantera de Nagüeles natural auditorium and attracts the main national and international musical artists.
In August you will find the Art Marbella Fair with galleries and exhibitions of international artists, and the Marbella International Opera Festival.
In addition, throughout the summer season, parties are held in most neighborhoods of Marbella that, for a few days, encourage activity in the area.
At the end of September, the Marbella International Contemporary Art Fair is also held every year, with works of photography, painting, sculpture and graphic design corresponding to more than 500 artists at the Marbella Fairs and Congresses Palace.
The month of October is Hispanic Day, also known as Pilar Day, in Marbella there are processions of the Civil Guard. On October 19 is the San Pedro de Alcántara Fair, the second most important in the municipality of Marbella and in honor of the patron saint of San Pedro de Alcántara.
A very particular holiday in Marbella is on November 1, Tostón Day. Here families enjoy a day in the countryside and the roasted chestnuts take on a special role. The day before Halloween is celebrated, where the protagonists are costumes.
Christmas begins in December and activities and entertainment for all audiences are held in Marbella during these dates.
Other festivals and celebrations that take place in Marbella are Marbella Reggae Festival in July and Marbella International Jazz Festival in June. Marbella International Film Festival, Todo Danza Festival, Spanish Film Festival and Independent Theater Festival are also held.
To carry out these and other events, Marbella has an infrastructure of scenic spaces such as Constitution Park Auditorium, El Ingenio Cultural Center, Marbella City Municipal Theater or Black Box Theater, among others. In addition, there is a music conservatory, a cinema club and several multiplexes, which screen films in both original and Spanish versions.
The traditional gastronomy of Marbella is typical of the Málaga coast based on fish. This is easy to intuit since it is a coastal municipality. However, due to the cosmopolitan personality that Marbella enjoys, it will not be difficult for you to find products that are not indigenous to the area or even dishes from other cultures.
The most typical dish in Marbella is the fried fish, made with anchovies, horse mackerel, red mullet and squid, among others, as well as sardine spits. In addition, gazpacho and ajoblanco are also typical.In cakes, oil cakes, wine bread roll, borrachuelos, torrijas and churros stand out.
Apart from this traditional cuisine, there are restaurants in Marbella from almost all regions of the world and with international, nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine.
In Marbella there are four restaurants with Michelin star: Dani García Restaurant, Skina Restaurant, El Lago Restaurant and Messina Restaurant. The gastronomic level and the variety of national and international cuisine that you will find in Marbella are extraordinary. With more than 600 restaurants at your disposal, avant-garde and tradition merge in Marbella.