A Short History of Marbella

Marbella, a hotbed of glamour and sophistication. But, long before the glitzy nightlife, the luxurious apartments and the designer boutiques Marbella was a site of human development, a region of conquest and change and an outpost to ancient Empires.

It seems the area has been a habitation for human life for many tens of thousands of years. The mountains that provide the backdrop to modern Marbella have offered up, from within their soil, evidence that indicates human life in the area from as far back as the early Stone Age (Palaeolithic Era). There have been further archaeological discoveries within the region that point to Marbella, like other parts of coastal Spain, being once a settlement for the Phoenicians and latterly, Carthaginians – the great seafarers, traders and colonists of the Mediterranean some 2500 to 3000 years ago.

The old town as we know it now appears to stem back to the Roman times, with evidence of a small Roman settlement, known as Salduba, to be found through the Villa at Rio Verde and artefacts and architecture to be found within the Old Town. However, its growth as a town of humble origin to that which we know today can truly be seen by its Moor heritage. Eight centuries of Islamic rule in the middle ages gave rise to the walled city and castle which remains in the historic old town to this day and indeed gave the city its modern name (derived from the Islamic Marbril-la).

Islamic rule was ended by the Spanish in 1485 and over the next few centuries Marbella developed into a small, peaceful settlement based around agriculture and fishing. Marbella began to grow with the rise in industry of the late 19th Century but it wasn’t until the 1950’s when a chance stop in the area by Prince Max Egon zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his son Alfonso following car trouble that Marbella began to grow. Alfonso was so taken by the town that he took to developing the Hotel Marbella Club, convincing the noble and aristocratic society to which he belonged that this was the place to be.

And Marbella, as we know it today, was born.

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