A top choice among those in the know, the Marbella area of Spain was once home to small fishing villages, but now reigns as one of the finest and most sophisticated beach resorts throughout the region. Modern and appealing, it has retained its history, which dates back to 1600 BC. Whether in the Old Town or on the “Golden Mile”, travelers will catch glimpses of this region’s unique culture and historic past.
Old Town and Orange Square
In the actual town, Marbella has a great deal to see and do, and the history of this site is impossible to ignore. There is a castle dating to the time of the Moors, there is an Andalucian quarter with heavy Moorish influences, and there is the Orange Square. This is a charming square surrounded by masses of orange trees. Outside of this lush and verdant perimeter, is a labyrinth of narrow streets plenty of tapas bars, cafes and restaurants and appealing shops. It is the perfect choice for the ardent people watchers or those who just really appreciate the authentic atmosphere of an old town such as Marbella.
Orange Square is actually in the heart of Old Town, and you must make a point of wandering the different cobbled streets and enjoying the appealing architecture with its flower-laden balconies and classic tile work. If you are visiting at the right hour for some tapas, one of the local favorites is Bar El Estrecho, and authentic cuisine is always available at The Orange Tree as well.
The buildings in this area date back to the late 1400s and early 1500s and the fountain in the center was actually commissioned by Christian Marbella, the first mayor of the city, in 1504. The Chapel of Santiago dates to the 1400s. As you exit the square, heading east, you can find the ruins of a Moorish castle and the entrance to the Plaza de la Iglesia. This too dates to the 1400s, and the Santiago Chapel just a short distance down the hill is yet another 15th century gem.
The Golden Mile
This is the true coastal area of Marbella and offers travelers a four mile stretch of luxurious properties, hotels, and beaches. It begins along the western edge of the city proper (at Plaza Bocanegra) and runs all of the way to Rio Verde. It features some of the earliest up-market buildings, as well as landmarks lke the Marbella Club Hotel and the Puente Romano Resort.
Begin exploring this at the charming Paseo Maritimo that is lined with palms and runs to Puerto Banus. There are many fine restaurants spots here, so be sure you choose a few to enjoy a nibble, some beach scenery and a moment or two to just savor the setting. As you continue along the way, you will reach Puerto Deportivo and then the Marbella Lighthouse. You can see this for a long way, and it stands more than 29 meters in height. Built in the 1860s, it is now automated and still a working lighthouse.
We strongly recommend that you take a moment to refuel here and enjoy a hot chocolate with some churros at one of the many cafes in this neighborhood. You will continue along the way (passing a new shopping center) and then you are on the beachside walk that leads to the Golden Mile.
There is so much to see and do in Marbella, and one of the finest experiences will be to spend a day or two exploring the Gold Coast towns of Puerto Banus, Benavhavis and Gibraltar to the far west point of this exotic region.