We know Marbella as an exclusive resort destination at the heart of the Costa del Sol, on Europe’s sunniest shoreline, but with a year-round population of 140,000 people and a history that dates back over two thousand years, the once small fishing village transformed into a modern cosmopolitan city is a centre of culture, nature and tradition in its own right.
Marbella occupies not only a beautiful, sunny location at a spot where green valleys, mountains and beaches come together in the face of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s not just a wondrous setting where Europe and Africa almost touch across the Straits of Gibraltar, two rocky outcrops that also define the border between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Marbella also finds itself in a strategic place touched by different cultures since time immemorial. Here, at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, the original Iberian inhabitants merged with Phoenician traders to found prosperous, advanced cultures, later to become a battlefield between Carthage and Rome.
Hannibal and Julius Caesar both visited this region, which also saw invasions of Celts and Germanic tribes before a Moorish army crossed from North Africa to conquer the Iberian Peninsula from a starting point at Gibraltar. Later, Christian armies retook the region for Spain, but Marbella remains part of the Moorish region of Andalucía, and this is visible in its old town quarter.
Fishing village and sugarcane fields
For centuries the town was kept small by roving Corsair pirates from North Africa, who looted and took thousands of inhabitants into slavery from these shores. It only ended with the French conquest of Algeria in 1830, and shortly afterwards a farming colony was established in San Pedro Alcántara.
For the next hundred years, this would be an area marked by sugarcane fields and the pretty little fishing village of Marbella. It was discovered by Spanish high society in the 1940s and 50s, leading to the town’s evolution into the glamorous resort destination and cosmopolitan town it is today. Marbella is the eight largest town in Andalucía, with a municipal area of just over 100km2.
The town and its surroundings are defined by the coastal plain located between mountain ranges such as the Sierra Bermeja and the Mediterranean Sea. Traversed by a series of streams and rivers, some perennial, it is an area of great natural beauty, with a benevolent, sunny microclimate afforded by this unique setting.
Mighty La Concha Mountain, the symbol of Marbella, rises to a towering 1215 metres, while along the shoreline the dunes of Artola offer a protected zone of sandy beaches and coastal umbrella pines. Just inland you’ll find little lakes and streams, and further in wooded terrain where wild boar, deer, badgers, eagles and even vultures roam.
Past and present in a beautiful location
In a place where Roman bridges and Phoenician ruins stand alongside Medieval town walls and ancient coastal watchtowers, you can also enjoy the finest luxury services, fine dining, boutique shopping, sports amenities, entertainment, five-star concierge, yachting, luxury products and culture.
Tennis, golf, summer concerts, classical music, fashion shows, art events and nightclubs mingle with trendy beach clubs, luxury department stores, interior designers and personal shoppers arriving with you by helicopter. In the southern tip of Europe, past and present come together in an exciting mix of worlds.