Marbella is best known for its stunning beaches, lavish hotels and non-stop party scene, but that’s not all it has to offer. If you take the time to learn about its rich history, you’ll be just as impressed. If you’re thinking of heading to Marbella and are interested in learning about its background, read on for a little history lesson.
- Roman Roots – Romans conquered and inhabited Marbella in 1600 BC, and evidence of this still remains today. You’ll find Roman ruins in various spots around Marbella, such as the Roman baths at Guadalmina and the Villa Romana de Rio Verde.
- The Moors – In the Middle Ages, the Moors came to Marbella, bringing Islamic rule with them. This rule remained for around 9 centuries, and during this time, the name was changed to Marbal La. In order to protect the area from Christian attacks, a fortress was built and surrounded by walls. Various other Moorish architecture can still be seen around the city.
- Spanish Rule – Marbella was conquered by the Spanish in 1485, when the Moors surrendered to the Reyes Catolicos. The keys to the city were handed over by caliph Mohamed Abuenza to King Fernando, who named Marbella as ‘Noble and Loyal City’. If you pay a visit to the Cathedral of Toledo, you can admire engravings depicting this very scene. This change of hands was the start of a new era for Marbella. The structure of the city was altered to illustrate that, and the Muslim medina was destroyed, which was once where you’ll find the Plaza de los Naranjos today.
- Industrial Revolution – In the 19th century, iron ore was discovered in a small village near Marbella and soon after that, the city became the home of the majority of Spain’s steel and iron production. Blast furnaces were built and jobs were created, and the city advanced in response to its industrial needs, building roads, bridges and buildings. As the 19th century drew to a close, Marbella’s population was almost entirely working class, with only a small group of oligarchs in control.
- The Modernization of Marbella – In the 1940’s, wealthy businessmen began to arrive in Marbella and saw its potential as a place of luxury for the upper class. The city’s first hotel, the Marbella Club Hotel, was opened in 1954, and it only grew from there. During the 70’s and 80’s, it was favoured destination by Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who frequented the city with his entourage, spending millions of Euros. From then on, it became more and more popular with the world’s wealthiest people, who helped to turn Marbella into the luxury destination it’s known for today.
See it For Yourself
Before Marbella was the booming tourist hotspot it is today, it went through several phases of historical change. If you take a walk around the Old Town, you can see this history for yourself, illustrated by various ruins and landmarks. In between trips to the beach bars and restaurants, be sure to check some of them out.