Marbella City Information

History - Attractions - Going Out

History: Historians date the founding of Marbella around 1600 B.C. by Roman colonists who called the city Salduba, meaning Salt City, but archaeologists have found evidence of earlier human inhabitants from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Phoenician eras. In the early years of the sixth century, Muslims took over this region of Spain and called the city Marbil-la, Marbella is originally derived from this name. They built a castle and a wall surrounding and protecting the city, but this couldn’t keep out the forces of the Christian Reconquista of Spain. The Muslim leader, Mohamed Abuenza, was forced to hand over the keys to the city to King Fernando in 1485. In the years that followed, Marbella slowly grew into a farming and agriculturally-based community. Residential areas started to take shape, but the Muslim ruins were still apparent, as they are today in parts of old town. With the advancement of industrialization the city housed an iron foundry, which employed men from all over the Andalucian region; in fact, the factory was the first in Spain to install blast furnaces. Up until the 1940s, however, agriculture remained the prominent source of economy for Marbella. Around the 1940s, by the initiative of Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, land started to be bought for commercial use. The plan – to turn the small, farm city into a tourist hot-spot, specifically for the wealthy. After some construction, it wasn’t hard to advertise Marbella as a perfect resort community, with it’s pristine beaches, golf courses, variety of hotels, old town, and Puerto Banus all in close range.

Dalí statue in Marbella

Attractions: “A Way of Life” is Marbella’s motto. Whether it be relaxing under the sun of the Playa de la Bajadilla or Playa de Fontanilla (two well-known beaches), wandering through the old town´s Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square) or gazing at the impeccable display of bonsai trees at the Bonsai Museum, it is easy to find whatever way of life you desire. Along with the exclusive shops and galleries amidst old town, you can find a variety of markets with new and second-hand items on the streets of Marbella. These markets provide something for everyone, especially the bargain shopper. Along the exquisite Avenida del Mar there are plenty of bars and restaurants, glass bottom boat trips, and a chance to view what Queen Isabella once called “Que mar tan bella” (“what a beautiful sea”). For the avid golfer, Marbella is very appealing with it’s more than 10 courses, some open day and night. During the week of June 11th each year, the city celebrates its patron saint, San Bernabé, with a fair and fiestas.

Going Out: Nightlife in Marbella is also a big attraction for the tourists that visit each year. There is a wide variety of restaurants along the sea and within the city center, as well as many cinemas and theatres. Old town, or the “Casco Antiguo” in Spanish, is popular for bars and discotheques for all ages. Also nearby is the marina Puerto Banus. Just behind the harbour the streets are filled with nightclubs and bars that used to be frequented mainly by the rich and famous from around the world. Today, a lively crowd can be found in any one of these establishments partying into the morning hours.