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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Marbella

marbellaPhoto by Tomas Fano, CC BY 2.0

Chic and synonymous with luxurious yachts and glamorous film stars, today’s post is all about Marbella. One of the hot spots of Spain’s Costa del Sol, Marbella is a destination that is quite fascinating to me. Situated in the Andalusia region, this city and resort is probably the glitziest destination along the Southern coast. And as it gets hotter, the sun-drenched marina of Puerto Banús and the historically-significant streets of Plaza de los Naranjos are often on my mind.

I’d love to write a longer post about my experience of visiting Marbella, but for today, here are some interesting facts that you should know about this sunny city.

Marbella is Rich in Ancient History

marbellaPhoto by Ikusitaikasi, CC BY 4.0
Caption: Mosaics in the Villa Romana de Rio Verde.

Marbella is quite a destination with a fascinating history. Long before it attracted the Jet Set, Marbella was home to ancient civilizations, including the Visigoths, Phoenicians, Moors and the Romans. The Romans made quite a mark on the city, and to this day, visitors can still see an authentic 1st century AD Roman villa within the boundaries of Marbella.

Located just a few meters away from the Playa Rio Verde stands the 2,000-year-old Villa Romana de Rio Verde complex. It was once part of a Roman stronghold called Cilniana, but sadly, it is all that remains of the great city. Although the villa’s columns have long since been removed, the site is still the home of some remarkably well-preserved mosaic floors. With the exception of a classic mosaic of the Gorgon Medusa’s fearsome, snake-haired head, these black and white tiles are quite unusual because they depict ordinary household items, such as plates of food, a stove and kitchen utensils and even traditional Roman shoes.

The site is open to visitors from Friday to Sunday between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and the artifacts found at the site are to the central Malaga Museum.

Entertainment Isn’t Only on the Golden Mile

Photo by Herry Lawford, CC BY 2.0 Caption: Marriott’s Marbella Beach Resort.

Marbella is known throughout the world for its infamous Golden Mile. This five-kilometer stretch of promenade from the Plaza Bocanegra to the Rio Verde is renowned for its luxury developments and exciting nightlife. However, it’s not the only place to be entertained in Marbella! Hotels like the H10 Andalucía Plaza are excellent places to check out if the tourist traps aren’t your thing; in the Andalucía, you’ll find fine dining and the region’s national casino, Casino Marbella.

Even though it’s not quite as famous in the entertainment world as other Spanish casinos like the Casino Barcelona and Casino Admiral Sevilla, Marbella’s national casino has played host to some top professional tournaments in recent years. Currently, it is the home of the annual PokerStars Festival Marbella, an event that became a real treat for visiting poker players.

Marbella Was Once a Spanish Capital of Industry

marbellaPhoto by Calapito, Public Domain
Caption: The mountains of Ojen.

Before Marbella became known as the Spanish playground for the rich and famous, it was a capital of industry in the country thanks to its historical mining and agricultural centers.  In the mid-17th century, sugarcane was introduced to the town, and a number of plantations were constructed soon after along the Malaga coastline, including El Trapiche del Prado de Marbella.

Marbella also played a significant role in the development of the iron industry in Spain, acting as the Spanish capital until the early 20th century. The Sierra Blanca mountains at Ojen are a rich source of magnetite iron ore, and in the 19th century, three plants were established in Marbella that produced almost 75 percent of the country’s total cast iron during that time, including the Finca La Concepcion, built by the Spanish magnate Manuel Heredia.

The Jet Set Was Founded by a German Prince

marbellaPhoto by Manuel González Olaechea y Franco, CC BY 3.0 Caption: A Salvador Dali sculpture.

From the Old Town to the Playa Rio Verde, Marbella is a city that has many incredible secrets hidden away within its streets, sometimes like in the case of the awe-inspiring Salvador Dali sculptures on the Avenida del Mar. In 2013, it was named the second greenest city in Europe, and throughout history, it’s been home to over 130 different nationalities, including Ukrainian, British, Moroccan and German people. In fact, it was a German prince who founded the famous Jet Set lifestyle associated with Marbella — Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe-Langenburg —who fell in love with the area after passing through with his father. In 1954, he set up the first luxury hotel there in his private residence, the villa Finca Santa Margarita, and was soon playing host to film stars like Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn and even Princess Grace.

Beyond the ritzy parties and luxury yachts, Marbella is a fascinating place to discover.


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