Marbella is a new big city totally devoted to tourism, however, it keeps a small "island" of tradition, where the image of Andalucia was well preserved and maintained.
Though at small scale, than what we may see in Seville, Granada, or any other traditional city of the province, strolling in the shaded narrow streets of the old quarter is a real pleasure, with many cafés offering their esplanades or air-conditioned rooms to a brake and a drink.
At night, respecting the spanish use of getting out by the cool evening, the streets become even more lively, with commerce opening doors till late.
The historic centre of Marbella is a small square, whose name came from orange trees. This detail may suggest a Muslim origin, but the Renaissance style of the square shows more recent conception. Surrounded by classical buildings, it is as everything else in town a very touristy point, covered with esplanades full of tourists.
It's not a great monument, but spanish try thir best to preserve history, and in a city where construction has frenetic, replacing almost everything not suitable to tourism, this degraded walls were all that they could save from the old castle.
It is only a segment of the outer walls, dating from the 10 or 11th century, built by muslim occupiers, including in the construction a few stones from previous roman constructions. It's possible to see a couple of doric columns.
Located in Plaza de los Naranjos, this palace from the 16 century, conceived to house the king's local representant, was built in Gothic and Renaissance styles, but the main signs are Mudejar. The ground floor is now used by a restaurant, obviously with the same name, and with "monumental" prices, of course. The building may pass without notice because it is somewhat hidden by the esplanade, and I don't know the use of the other floors.
Marbella's old town is very lovely with a lot of narrow streets with white houses, statues, fountains and churches. It contains a lot of small, interesting shops and I noticed how impeccable and spotless this part of town was, the houses white with a lot of colourful flowers.
One of the most ancient Christian buildings in town is Ermita del Santo Cristo on la Plaza del Santo Cristo (see my photos). Its construction is dated back to the 14th century.
I especially liked the blue Virgen de los Dolores at El balcon de la Virgen.
Carmen walked me through the old city and it was a very lovely walk.
In the old town of Marbella there are still remains of the walls which the Moors built around their castle in Marbella. The fortress dates from the 10th century and is integrated into the city center.
With tiny streets where you touch the walls at each side simply by stretching, and bougainvillea branching out and drooping overhead, the magic of Marbella old town is not to be missed.
On my first visit to glamorous Marbella I completely missed the old town. In fact I didn't even know it existed. I continue to live with the loss of that first visit, but made up for it the second time around by spending a lot of time here.
Along with the usual designer shops you will find the quaint and unusual. Here's where you come to find that little something for the one who has everything.
It's a photographers paradise, full as it is with tiny Churches, pretty squares, and lively outdoor cafes.
Whitewashed walls provide a backdrop for brightly coloured flowers, while at night golden light floods out from cast iron lanterns and bounces off the same whitewashed walls turning them to orange and gold.
One of the great secrets of the Old Town is the vast selection of truly first class restaurants. Every other one has a Michelin recommendation.
Don't make the mistake I did - make sure you get there first time around.
Marbella, like many old towns is trying to adapt to the modern world, the first photo shows how the city walls are surrounded by parked cars, little room to sit back and admire the ancient architecture, but you can see this in most old towns that are lived in and not abandoned to time or relegated dying and coming back as a museum. Old structures vie with new to "conquer" space and you get a new dynamic where they meet. Still in the old parts of the town you can find small extras, like the tiles on the wall or the Temple del Dios, it was at this church where we found a wedding in progress, people showing up in their finery even on a wet and cloudy day...
Last but not least, Zohara and Carmen took a break from our walk by playing a game of table hockey...
While Marbella may not be an important ancient city, it does have its old town and many beautiful spots within its environs, all you need is some patience and energy to walk the streets, or a guide like Carmen to show you where to look. Many of the streets are paved better than homes that I have seen. The old town is not large and is "doable" in a few hours, we were lucky enough to have a day of rain so we had the streets to ourselves, we did not see any people till we came across a wedding.
If you ever visited Spain you must visit Ronda, it is one of the oldest towns in Spain. The most striking aspect of the cultural heritage of Ronda and its surroundings is Arabic. Under muslim rule the town rose to importace as the capital of one of the five coras of Al Andalus. This is seen in the style of the building and the many other traditions in the region.
The conquest of the town by the Catholic Kings in 1485 was followed by a period of cultural and structured reorganisation but it is in the 18th century that the city became clear in the general context of Andalusia. IT was was during that period that the most significant and emblematic monuments of Ronda were built , the New Bridge adn the Bullring
Ronda has everthing for the whole family, sites to see, great shopping streets, fantastic restaurants and if you are staying for the night beautiful hotels.
No trip to Marbella would be complete without a trip to the Old Town. Little streets with lots of bars and restaurants. Shops selling just about everything and lots of pretty flowers adorning the buildings. Look up and admire the views.
Unfortunately we missed the walking tour given by VT's very own beach_dog on Saturday morning as we had some VERY important shopping to do but after we completed our mission we set off to explore the old town with it's narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful white buildings often complimented by magenta bougainvillea or other flowers cascading from the windows.