History of Marbella
Today Marbella is a bustling tourist resort with a reputation of being the place to be seen by the rich and famous. However, all this has happened in the last 50 years but the town has a long history going back to 1600BC when it was conquered by the Romans. Some scientists have found remains in the area that suggest the town was even inhabited as far back as the Palaeolithic and Phoenician eras.
Perhaps a more important period was in the 6th century when Arabs arrived in southern Spain bringing Islamic rule and changing the name of the town to Marbil-la. Marbella was under Arab rule for more than 9 centuries and parts of the fortress built to repel Christian attackers can still be seen in the old town area.
In 1485 Marbella was conquered by the Spanish Catholic Monarchs led by King Fernando. The following few centuries saw dramatic change including the destruction of the original Muslim Medina which made way for a new square which today is called Plaza de Los Naranjos meaning Orange Square. Other remains include a tower which can be seen in the gardens of the current beachfront Hotel The Fuerte.
The town then grew as a farming and agricultural area and then really began to expand during the industrial period when iron was discovered in Ojen, a town up in the hills behind Marbella. The first Iron foundry in Spain was built in Marbella followed by roads, bridges and buildings making Marbella the second most important Iron producing area on the peninsula.
However, the dismantling of the steel industry some years later meant much of the population of Marbella had to return to farming or fishing for their livelihood. A major epidemic of pests in the vineyards and farm lands resulted in poverty and unemployment.
During the Spanish civil war, Marbella suffered greatly with many buildings being burnt down by Nationalists. It became a bit of a haven for General Franco’s supporters such as Jose Banús, who later built the well known port.
After World War Two Marbella was a small village with just 900 inhabitants but during the late 1940s Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe arrived in Marbella and put the town on course to become the place for the rich and famous to visit. He basically got stranded in Marbella when his Rolls Royce broke down on route to Morocco.
The Prince was so enchanted he stayed and invited his rich and Royalty friends to join him for holidays. He started to buy land for commercial purposes building hotels and apartment complexes and in 1954 he opened the Marbella Club Hotel which still stands today on what is now called the Golden Mile. The hotel soon became the hot spot for discreet luxury breaks for the Princess’s influential friends.
The famous marina called Puerto Banus, was built in 1970 just outside the town of Marbella and the lavish opening was attended by many famous names including Hugh Hefner, director Roman Polanski, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
The 70′s then saw the arrival of Prince Fahd bin Abdul, the former King and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. His love affair with Marbella meant good times for the locals as he paraded around the city spending huge amounts of money. On one visit alone, he arrived with a staff of 3,000 people and raised profits in the Puerto Banus area by 35,000 Euros a day. King Fahd died in 2005 and the local mayor at the time, Marisol Yague, declared an official three day mourning period and the town hall passed a decree declaring King Fahd an “Adopted Son of the Municipality”.
His holiday home, a massive villa resembling the White House still stands on an elevated plot on the Golden Mile and is still used by the Saudi Royal family.
In the 1990’s a new mayor was appointed which was the start of a serious of officials running the town amidst corruption and scandal. Jesus Gil was a builder and president of the football club Atletico Madrid, who continued to develop the city improving its infrastructure, sports facilities, cultural centres, municipal offices, parks, golf courses and more. For every facility built for the towns benefit Gil would somehow profit for himself and eventually ended up in jail. Many people however, still see him as a good thing for the town as the infrastructure certainly improved in his time.
Through the 90’s and early 2000’s Marbella has been associated with scandals of government corruption and organized crime and yet the jet set and famous continue to flock to Marbella’s beaches, golf courses, marinas and restaurants. The Spanish Government has clamped down on local town halls and there has been a concerted effort to put the corruption scandals behind and a new regime is now in place and hopes are high that Marbella will now be run in a professional and honest way.
Location of Marbella
On the most very most Southernly tip of Spain you will find the autonomous region of Andalucia. Within that you have a few Regional provinces one of which is Malaga and within the Malaga province is Marbella.
Marbella is actually, both a town in its own right and also, a municipality which contains a number of smaller towns and holiday areas such as Puerto Banus, San Pedro, Cabopino, Elviria and La Quinta.
Marbella is a 45 minute drive from Malaga airport where most tourists arrive or 50 minutes to Gibraltar which also has an airport.
Marbella has approximately 150,000 inhabitants, however this number increases to nearly two million during the tourist season in summer with holiday makers arriving from Northern Europe, the UK and Ireland and most other parts of the World.
There are approximately 50,000 foreigners officially registered as residents of Marbella although the actual figure is thought to be significantly higher as not everybody registers.
Well Known Inhabitants of Marbella
Some of Marbella’s most famous residents have included famous actors such as Antonio Banderas, who still owns a villa in the beachside urbanisation of Las Chapas, Dolph Lundgren, Deberah Kerr and Sean Connery, who owned a villa in Puerto Banus up until the early 90’s. From the music world has been English songwriter Richard Daniel Roman and world superstar, Rod Stewart. Others include, Sir Alan Sugar, James Hewitt and the former racing driver James Hunt.
Hospitals and medical services in Marbella
There are a growing number of hospitals in Marbella and the Costa del Sol which cater to both the Spanish community and expatriates living on the coast.
Most are used to handling foreigners and offer translators or have multilingual staff. The private hospitals cater largely to foreigners and are thus, more likely to have staff fluent in most languages.
Marbella is now very much a place that people feel comfortable living in all year round with an excellent infrastructure of schools and hospitals. Some of the hospitals and medical centres include: -
Helicopteros Sanitarious – Not strictly a hospital but is a rapid response, emergency service which, for a modest annual payment, will offer a call out service for anything from minor illnesses to major heart attacks or road accidents. They do have a new medical facility in Puerto Banus that can deal with many medical issues or for anything more serious they will take patients to hospital. This service is particularly popular with Ex Pats as their staff speak excellent English and other languages.
Hospital Ceram in Marbella is among the region’s most modern medical centres, offering private hospital care and a specialised centre for child birth.
Marbella Medical and Dental clinic based in Puerto Banus since 1985 offers complete medical and hospitalisation services.
The main hospital serving the coast. This is a large modern hospital with facilities for treating most illness’s and accidents. Non- Spanish will be treated free on production of a National security card from their home country or proof that they are in the health system.
A really good private hospital in the centre of town.
There is a good choice of schools in the area including Spanish state schools and private International schools. These include:-
A very popular private school which is situated in the Puerto Banus/Nueva Andalucia area just outside Marbella town.
It delivers a British style education whilst also offering an education of Spanish language and culture.
A complete British/Spanish education for children aged 2 to 18. Located in the next town along to Marbella – San Pedro.
A very popular International school due to its location in the centre of town.
Another International school located in the town of San Pedro. Founded in 1973 it hqas an excellent reputation.
British style education for children 3 to 18 located in the centre of town.
Spanish state schools.
There are restrictions on who can get into a Spanish state school and partly depends on living in the area of the school. Below is a list of Spanish state schools in the Marbella area with contact numbers.
Las Albarizas – 0034 952898277
Hermanos Gil Muniz – 0034 952823172
Los Olivos – 0034 952773907
Marbella is a fabulous place for outdoor sports. There are more golf courses in the area than almost anywhere else on Earth and then several Tennis clubs, Padel clubs (a Spanish game similar to squash), adventure parks, Go Kart tracks and of course, all sorts of water activities such as diving, water skiing, paddle boarding etc.
The average price of a property in Marbella municipality is just under €3,000 per square metre but prices vary widely depending on factors such as proximity to the beach, views, orientation and standard. There is also a difference between properties in the town of Marbella and in other towns and urbanisations in the municipality.
Most properties in the town itself tend to be fairly old. A 30 year old 2 bedroom apartment with sea views will cost in the region of €350,000. Moving further back from the beach but still in the town a similar apartment could be bought for around €200,000.
Towns/areas within the Marbella municipality.
Here are some towns and areas that fall within the Marbella Municipality: -
Hacienda del Sol
The Golden Mile
Bahia de Marbella
Hacienda Las Chapas
Reserva de Marbella