Marbella is controversial. Corruption and greedy developers have descimated the land and polluted the water along the Costa del Sol. It is not often politicians in Spain get their butts put in the slammer. It has happened in cities by the Costa del Sol. Although high rises line the beaches, it is legal for anyone to use any beach anywhere so don’t let the gates deter you. Our guest writer from Andalucia, Christine Medina, looks beyond the crime and sees the beauty of Marbella.
By Christine Medina
Marbella is the kind of place that draws different reactions from people. Some are lured in by the luxury around them: sprawling mansions, sleek automobiles, designer boutiques and fine dining. Others, like me, find the place a bit excessive and come for the people-watching, shopping, and a stop at my favorite sushi bar; Sushi Katsura.
Celebs like Antonio Banderas, Saudi oil tycoons and European millionaires and billionaires have injected a lot of wealth into this coastal city, but there’s more to Marbella than its shiny veneer. I love wandering around the casco antiguo (old town), which speaks more authentically to Marbella’s past.
If you find yourself on the Costa del Sol here’s what I recommend for a day in Marbella:
1. Murallas del Castillo
These castle walls are located in the old town, and at one time were part of a Moorish castle. Though they’re not open to the public, they are viewable from the outside and are an interesting reminder of Marbella’s history as they date back to the 10th Century.
Marbella is situated in a unique microclimate, which keeps it pleasantly warm year-round, with over 300 days of sunshine per year. Try Playa de la Badajilla, Playa de Venus and Playa de la Fontanilla for a place in the sand to rest your weary feet. Mojito in hand optional.
3. Las Bóvedas
I’m a sucker for Roman ruins, and Las Bóvedas, also known as the Marbella Vaults, were once Roman baths. They are some of the best-preserved ruins in the area, and upon viewing them, one can’t help but imagine the opulence the building must have had in its glory days.
4. Villa Romana de Rio Verde
Though located outside of the city along the Verde River, this is an archeological site dating back nearly 2,000 years. For history buffs it’s worth a stop as many treasures have been found here such as pottery, mosaic tiles and more.
5. Puerto Banus
If you go to Marbella, you should make a stop in Puerto Banus to drool over the Aston Martins and extravagant yachts docked in the marina. It’s part of the experience! Just don’t come hungry, as any meal here will set you back a pretty penny.
That’s Marbella for you. You might love it, you might hate it, but you won’t be bored in this hedonistic resort town.
To visit Marbella catch Malaga flights from many northern European destinations or from major Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. From Malaga, rent a car and drive west to this ritzy city!
Christine Medina, originally from Seattle, Washington, has been an expat in Andalucia for two years. She shares her travel advice, anedotes and photographs on http://www.christineinspain.com/