Marbella is one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean Costa del Sol. Its climate, its beaches and its history make it one of the most recognized tourist destinations in Andalusia. Today, however, we focus on the historic center: we will see why to visit it, how to get there and what the most notable sites it has to offer.
Why visit Marbella?
Of the many reasons there are to visit Marbella, suffice it to say that its Mediterranean coast and climate make it an ideal destination for summer holidays. Its beaches on the coast are some of the best natural spaces of Malaga and they have sports complexes that offer us a fun-filled experience with golf courses, water skiing, hiking and bicycle routes.
One of its most emblematic places is Puerto Banús, which concentrates most of the tourist activity and leisure areas with all types of sports services, water activities, rental of yachts, boats, sailboats, and much more. Likewise, the city of Marbella stands out due to the great gastronomic offer of bars and restaurants, as well as a vibrant commercial activity with fashion and luxury goods stores.
However, there is also a cultural and historical Marbella that can offer us an enriching experience during our holidays. We are talking, of course, about the historic center of Marbella, located in the Barrio Alto that borders the Parque de la Represa.
This area brimming with traditional Andalusian identity, with Roman and Arab influences, transports us to the past and allows us to discover a Renaissance and medieval Marbella in its architecture, its buildings and its historical monuments. The historical case preserves traces of a history of conquests and reconquests between Muslims and Catholics that can be observed in its different constructions and styles.
How to get to Marbella?
To get to Marbella there are many options. It can be reached by road or by air. For those who are at a considerable distance, the best option is the flights to Malaga, where the Málaga-Costa del Sol airport (AGP) is located and which also has two low-cost airlines among its top airlines. Once at the airport, we can take the Renfe Cercanías Line C1 train to Fuengirola and then take the bus to complete the rest of the journey to Marbella.
However, the most direct and fastest option is to take the A Express Aeropuerto bus (Line 75) from the airport. This tour takes approximately one hour on the highway and leaves us at the Marbella Bus Station, just 10 minutes from the historic center of the city.
Bus services operate weekly, although their frequency decreases on weekends and holidays. Of course, we must consider that during the summer season, from June to September, the city of Malaga has a larger population of tourists, so the bus lines can be saturated by families, since it is one of the best options for traveling with children by the province.
Highlights of the historic center of Marbella
Now that we know how to get to Marbella, it’s time to start enjoying. This list includes the best places in the historic center to live an enriching cultural experience away from the party atmosphere of Puerto Banús.
The Engraving Museum
This museum was inaugurated in 1992 and has an endowment of more than 1,350 graphic works donated by contemporary authors from Spain. This is located in the old Bazán hospital that the Marbella City Council set up for this purpose. This building is a classic example of Renaissance civil architecture that dates back to the 16th century and was declared a Site of Cultural Interest with the category of Monument.
The museum maintains a very varied collection of contemporary art and holds exhibitions, national printmaking competitions and awards, workshops, conferences and much more. Currently its collection of prints exceeds four thousand pieces and is one of the most important in the world. This is a must-see that we cannot miss when we tour the historic center of Marbella.
- Location: Hospital Bazán street s/n. 29601 Marbella
- Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Hermitage of Santiago
This Christian parish is the oldest in the city and one of its most emblematic buildings. In the past, it was a mosque consecrated after the Reconquista process between the years 711 and 1492. Therefore, it preserves the style of the time, although it is a relatively simple building that has a single nave and a rectangular floor plan.
Despite its simplicity, the parish houses religious images that are part of the Brotherhood and the Virgin of Clarity, some of them have a neo-baroque style of great detail and conservation. It is located in the Plaza de los Naranjos, in the center of the historic center of the city (although it is considered that the Hermitage precedes the Plaza).
- Location: Plaza de los Naranjos, s/n, 29601 Marbella
- Hours: Sunday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This is one of the most important monuments in Marbella that remembers the presence of the Muslim civilization of the 10th century, during the time of Abd al-Rahman III. The fortification was one of the constructions that founded the city to have a control point on the Mediterranean coast. It is located on a hill thirty meters above sea level.
The structure demonstrates different construction phases, among which its attached and quadrangular towers stand out, on top of which are two other circular towers with masonry and lime formwork. Although it has lost a large part of its structure, it is an imposing stone construction, whose walls they began to renew themselves in 2022. This monument is constantly being renovated to preserve its original features, although many modern structures have been built around it.
- Location: C. Portada, 9, 29601 Marbella
- Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. | Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Plaza de los Naranjos
This iconic city square was founded after the Catholic Church recovered the territory in the 13th century. It is in the center of the historic center and was for a long time the axis of the city. The Town Hall, the Hermitage of Santiago, the Casa del Corregidor and several other notable sites on this list and in the city were located around this square.
This square is surrounded by cafes, restaurants and bars where we can sit during the summer under the shade of orange trees, first planted in 1941, when it was given its current name (it previously had palm trees and Indian chestnut trees). However, not only is the square beautiful, but the same route to get there has a lot to offer: labyrinthine and narrow streets of old buildings, terraces and white Andalusian-style facades.
- Location: Pl. de los Naranjos, 29601 Marbella
The House of the Corregidor
Another of the notable buildings in the historic center of Marbella, we can visit it after having a snack in the Plaza de los Naranjos. It was built in 1552 to house a royal official known as Corregidor who represented the Crown in the Town Hall. From this house the economic development was supervised and the king’s will was exercised.
Its stone façade displays a Gothic-Mudejar style with pointed arches and plant decoration. It has a three-arch viewpoint and Renaissance features that are a classic example of 16th century Castilian architecture. Although it originally had two floors, a restaurant that bears its name currently operates on its ground floor.
- Location: Pl. de los Naranjos, 29601 Marbella
- Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Church of the Incarnation
As with so many monuments in Marbella, this church is an old mosque that was transformed during the Catholic reconquest of the territory. It has undergone multiple renovations over the years and today only retains two of the three original entrances. Its façade still maintains the ocher stone main door characteristic of the baroque style that dates back to the 18th century.
The building consists of three naves that were rebuilt after the Civil War in 1936. The main nave ends in a semicircular shape adorned with Corinthian pilasters that were attached to the walls under a spherical vault.
- Location: Plaza de la Iglesia, Historic Center. CP 29600
- Hours (visit): Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. | Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The city of Marbella offers a great experience for tourists and travelers both for its vibrant Mediterranean coast and for its cultural and architectural heritage that is concentrated in the historic center of the city. It is advisable to start the tour in the Plaza de los Naranjos, since many of the landmarks and monuments are located nearby or directly above it.