Marbella Old Town
While Marbella might be best known for expensive yachts, glamorous restaurants and A-list celebrities, it has still managed to keep much of its original charm, particularly in Marbella Old Town. A maze of narrow, cobbled streets that weave their way in between whitewashed buildings, Old Town Marbella certainly has a few secrets up its sleeves.
Hanging along the chalk-white walls, you’ll find blue flower pots housing beautiful blooms and adding splashes of colour to the backdrop. Small, stone arches link buildings together, and cherry blossoms provide perfumed shady spots, for when the heat of the midday sun gets a little too warm. Wander the backstreets and you’ll find quirky shops, mini markets, quiet bars and some superb restaurants.
At the heart of the network of streets and alleyways in Marbella Old Town, you’ll find its best-kept secret, Orange Square. Known locally as Plaza de los Naranjos, the square is one of the oldest parts of Old Town Marbella, dating back to the 13th century. Among the few shops and restaurants that have made their home there, you’ll find some historic buildings, including the Chapel of Santiago, the Town Hall and the old Governor’s House. It’s easy to see how the square got its name, as the secluded gardens there are almost overflowing with orange trees, which hang heavy with fruit during the summer months. However, it’s the restaurants that are the star of the show. Here, you can enjoy everything from handmade pasta, to fresh fish, simply grilled and served with wedges of lime and slices of spicy chilli.
The Church of St Mary
Once you’ve eaten, browsed the shops, or sipped a quiet glass of something cold, be sure to pay a visit to the Church of St Mary; the most important building in Old Town Marbella. Built in the 15th Century, it boasts a remarkable, red-stone entrance, which leads to the elegant interior. Inside, you’ll find an enormous church organ, which took three years to install. It consists of over 5000 wooden, copper and pewter pipes and no less than four keyboards! The looming bell tower is equally impressive and is still used to call the locals to prayer. The Church of St Mary is open to visitors and, if you’re taking your holidays to Marbella during religious celebrations, is still the main hub for religious services and singing.
Roman Ruins and Famous Artists
To dip further into the history of Marbella Old Town, take a stroll along Trinidad Street, where you’ll find the ruins of Marbella’s castle. Many of the walls were built using stone from Roman buildings, creating an eye-pleasing patchwork of styles and materials. What’s left stretches as far as Portada Street, where, under the command of King Carlos I, the rest was dismantled and destroyed. You’ll also find the Museum of Spanish Contemporary Engravings tucked away in Old Town Marbella, which houses an astonishing range of works from famous artists such as Miro and Picasso.
While the beaches, glamour and glitz of Marbella have their own allure, a visit to its Old Town is the ideal way to taste a slice of Spain, at its most authentic.