The greatest fallacy about Marbella is that it is a recently developed tourist centre, to which it owes its fame and existence. On the contrary, Marbella's history started at least 1,000 years before Christ, and it never was a small village scraping a living from fishing sardines.
Until very recent times, it was an important urban centre, deriving its wealth from agriculture and mining.
Archaeological excavations have been made in the mountains around Marbella, which point at human habitation in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. There are also remains of Phoenician and later Carthaginensian settlements in the area of Rio Real.
Just when Marbella started has not been defined by archaeologists and historians: some think it was the site of the Greek town, Mainake, others of the Roman town, Salduba ( which means 'Salt City' ), or Cilniana, the latter generally thought to have been closer to San Pedro de Alcantara.
There is a legend has it that Marbella received it's name from the famous Punic general Maharbal who fought under Hannibal's command in the 2nd Punic war (218 BC), and Marbella is believed to have been an important city under the rule of Carthage.
The Arabs who invaded Spain in the 8th century, quickly recognized the strategic value of the town and they fortified the town, as witnessed by many remains of this work, more or less well conserved until today, the most important remaining feature being the Moorish castle.
And the first mention of 'Marbil-la' as a town occurred in the writings of the 12th century Arab historian Al-Idrisi, when it was described as a settlement of under 3,000 people. The origin of the name itself is unknown but could well be a corruption of the Latin Mar (sea) the Arabic Bil (by the) and the Arabic or Latin derivatives - La (there/place) or from La(go) (Lake), resulting in 'place by the sea' or ' Lake by the Sea' reference to the old salt lakes of Salduba.
King Ferdinand the Catholic, in his advance towards Granada, easily conquered the town on 11th June 1485 and this is represented in engravings in the Choir area of the Cathedral of Toledo.
Since then, the saint honoured on this day, the Cypriot Barnabas, has become patron saint of the city.
And the spot on which the Moorish governor (Mohamed Abuenza) handed over the keys of the town to the King is called the Cross of the place of Humiliation. Contrary to what is usually thought, this name was given to the spot because it was King Ferdinand who knelt to give thanks to God for having been able to take the town without bloodshed. So it was not the Moor who knelt in submission, and Marbil-la became a spanish name "Marbella" (Mar=sea , and, bella=beautiful). Marbella (Beautiful Sea) was born.
Today the beautiful Marbella is gaining notoriety as one of the most luxurious resort towns in the world.
Often referred to as Spain's answer to Saint-Tropez, the city and beaches of Marbella have become renowned jet set destination points for some of the worlds most celebrated clientele.
Famed for world-class sailing, golf and tennis, the city is a mecca of prestigious charm and upscale living. With dazzling white buildings set against the deep, azure Mediterranean sky, the splendor of Marbella is undeniably pleasing to every eye.
Combining the exotic backdrop of the Costa del Sol with chic city elegance, the luxurious resort town of Marbella is truly a gem of the Mediterranean region.
Whether seeing a low key, relaxing retreat or an upbeat getaway for parties and entertainment, Marbella can meet any request with ease.
Experience the down-to-earth side of the city with immaculate facades, and balconies decorated with flowerboxes full of geraniums and carnations and a visit to exquisite “Orange Square,”with its ancient stately buildings, tall trees and exotic tropical plants, little boutiques and art galleries. A jaunt down any of the city's surrounding narrow streets of intermingled homes and shops will keep any visitor busy, where plenty of authentic restaurants offer a varied seafood, paella and tapas selection to cure any appetite.
Stroll towards the sea on the Avenida del Mar, an incredible coastal promenade that features upscale restaurants, magnificent landscaping, and truly captures the simplistic elegance that Marbella represents. Puerto Banus, west of the town, offers yachtside pampering and a slightly more commercial feel with renowned fashion houses and designer boutiques, a casino, marine observatory, cinema, bustling nightlife and much more.
So, the development of the supposed tiny fishing village, according to those who do not know Marbella's history, has now turned this historic town into the flagship of Spanish tourism.
Much more history awaits Marbella in the future; meanwhile it is proud of its historic and ancient past.
www.marbella.es (Official Website)
www.marbellas.com (and wheather forecast)
First quotation:James Monroe (1758 –1831 )
was the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825).