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Marbella, Spain

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Location of Marbella
Marbella, Spain is located in Spain
Marbella, Spain
Location of Marbella
Coordinates: 36°31′0″N 4°53′0″W / 36.516667°N 4.883333°W / 36.516667; -4.883333
Municipality Málaga
Government
 - Mayor María Ángeles Muñoz Uriol
Area
 - Total 114.3 km2 (44.1 sq mi)
 - Land 114.3 km2 (44.1 sq mi)
 - Water 0.00 km2 (0 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 - Total 124,332
 Density 1,088/km2 (2,817.9/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website www.marbella.es

Marbella is a city in Andalusia, Spain, by the Mediterranean, situated in the province of Málaga, beneath La Concha. In 2000 the city had 98,823 inhabitants, in 2004, 116,234, in 2010 circa 135,000.

Marbella and the nearby Puerto Banús are important beach resorts of the Costa del Sol. The town is famous for being a playground for the rich and famous. Marbella is famed as an exclusive destination for wealthy tourists from Northern Europe, as well as the well-heeled from the UK, Ireland and Germany.

However in recent years Marbella's reputation has been tarnished by local government corruption scandals[1] and links with organised crime[2].

It is easy to reach other places, like Málaga and Algeciras, by bus. The area is also served by the A7 autovia, and the closest airport is at Málaga.

The area around Marbella is particularly popular with those who like golf. Marbella also hosts a WTA tennis tournament on red clay, the Andalucia Tennis Experience.

Contents

History

Archaeological excavations have been made in the mountains around Marbella, which point at human habitation in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. There are also remains of Phoenician and later Carthaginian settlements in the area of Rio Real. In Roman times, the city was called "Salduba" (Salt City[3]).

Remains of the Roman bridge of Marbella

During Islamic rule, Muslims built a castle in this city, and they surrounded it by walls. The name Marbella, which is derived from Marbil-la, dates from this Islamic era. The traveller Ibn Battuta characterised the town as "a pretty little town in a fertile district"[4]. In 1485, the Spaniards reconquered the city, and during the centuries that followed, the city grew.

In the 1940s, Marbella was a small jasmine-lined village with only 900 inhabitants. But this soon changed when Prince Max Egon zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his heir Alfonso de Hohenlohe experienced a problem with their Rolls-Royce in the vicinity. This first encounter with Marbella so impressed Alfonso that he decided to buy land commercially, marketing the area as a tourist destination. In 1954 he opened the Marbella Club Hotel; his son had recently returned from California and the hotel was loosely modeled on the motel style with lower pitched terracotta roofs among 23,000 trees.

Given Alfonso's maternal membership in Spain's titled aristocracy (his mother, Doña Piedad Iturbe y Scholtz, was the Marquesa de Belvis de las Navas), and his paternal kinship to the royal courts of Europe, the hotel quickly proved a hit with vacationing members of Europe's ruling elites, and those privileged to socialise with them in casual yet discreet luxury. Don Jaime de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish bon vivant, brother to Fabiola, Queen of the Belgians, was a frequent vacationer.

Street in Marbella, Spain 2005.

Typical was a gala held in August 1998 as a fundraiser at the Marbella club for AIDS relief NGO. Prince Alfonso presided, supported by the sons of his first marriage to Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, an Agnelli heiress who arrived with her own entourage; Princess Marie-Louise of Prussia (great-granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II) who, with her husband Count Rudolf "Rudi" von Schönburg-Glauchau, would eventually take over the Marbella Club Hotel from Prince Alfonso; and socialite Countess Gunilla von Bismarck.[5]

Sea side of Marbella
Hacienda de Toros, drawing by Philippe Derome, 1979

In 1974 Prince Fahd arrived at the city after having broken the bank of the Casino of Montecarlo[6]. Until his death in 2005 he was a frequent and profitable guest at Marbella, where his retinue of over a thousand people spending petro-dollars was welcome, including the then-anonymous Osama bin Laden.

In the eighties, Marbella continued to be a destination for the jet set, with the most recognizable face being that of Gunilla von Bismarck. However, problems arose in 1987 when Melodie Nakachian, a daughter of Raymond Nakachian, a local billionaire philanthropist and the Korean singer Kimera was kidnapped, putting the city in the focus of the media.

In 1991 the builder and president of Atlético Madrid, Jesús Gil y Gil was elected by a wide majority as mayor of Marbella for his own party, the Independent Liberal Group (GIL in Spanish), promising to fight petty crime and the declining prestige associated with the region. Amongst other things, he used, as an international spokesman for the city, actor Sean Connery who later ended this relationship after his image was used for electoral purpose by Gil.

The city also experimented with extensive building activity under the administration of Gil, with critics stating that this construction was often performed without regard for the existing urban plan and thus new plans were stopped by the Andalusian government. Something of a maverick, Gil despised town-hall formalities instead ruling from his office at the Club Financiero. Criticism was levelled at Gil by the major parties of Spain (PSOE and People's Party) but this did not convince enough voters to oust him and Spanish celebrities continued to spend summers there.

Gil's GIL extended to other Costa del Sol towns like Estepona and across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Spanish African cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

This period brought an appraisal of the city but also investigations of corruption began. Eventually, Jesús Gil was forced to resign in 2002 after being jailed for diverting public funds for Atlético. He was succeeded by Julián Muñoz, a former waiter then well-known for being romantically engaged with singer Isabel Pantoja with more than one hundred trials for corruption hanging on. Muñoz was overthrown by his own party which elected as new mayor Marisol Yagüe, a former secretary. Muñoz and Gil took part in a scandalous debate on television where both accused each other of having robbed public funds. The situation exploded in March 2006, when Yagüe was also jailed when the city council was near bankruptcy. According to unsubstantiated testimony, Muñoz and Yagüe were puppets in the hands of Antonio Roca, a councilman who got the job after failing in private business and gathering substantial wealth while working as a public servant. While Yagüe was in jail, the city council was run by Tomás Reñones, a former Atlético Madrid football player, who ended up in jail as well. On April 8, 2006, the Spanish government decided to suspend the council, the first time such a course of action was taken in Spanish democracy [2].

Sights in and around Marbella

Salvador Dalí. Horse with rider, Marbella
  • Arabian wall
  • Bonsai museum
  • Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo
  • Old city centre
  • Playa de la Bajadilla (beach)
  • Playa de Fontanilla (beach)
  • Puerto Banús, a marina built by José Banús where Rolls-Royces and Ferraris meet yachts.
  • The Golden Mile featuring the Marbella Club Hotel and its beach club, as well as the late King Fahad's palace.
  • Encarnation's Church (Iglesia de la Encarnación). Oldest church in the city situated in the old-town.

Notable residents

Medieval defensive walls of Marbella
  • Antonio Banderas is a regular visitor to Marbella where he has a house in Los Monteros. He and Melanie Griffith have a daughter who was born in Marbella in 1999.
  • In 1981 English actress Joan Collins accepted her career-making role in the hit prime time melodrama Dynasty while living in her Marbella vacation home.
  • Sean Connery used to live in Marbella, near a golf course where he played daily when not filming. He left following disagreements with the local press, and now resides in the Bahamas where he plays golf much less frequently. He lent his image to the Marbella's townhall until Gil used it for political goals.
  • Arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar was a longtime resident until his imprisonment, and has been nicknamed "The Prince of Marbella".
  • Mark Langford, the former, multi-millionaire boss of The Accident Group who notoriously sacked most of his 2,700 staff by text message, died after being involved in a car accident in Marbella on April 11, 2007
  • Actor Dolph Lundgren resides in Marbella with his wife and two children. They also have a home in London.
  • English songwriting legend Richard Daniel Roman lives in Marbella.
  • Porn star Linsey Dawn McKenzie lives in Marbella.

Rod Stewart resided in Marbella in the 80's. Actress Deborah Kerr and her husband, author and movie producer Peter Viertel also were prominent residents of Marbella . Actor Stewart Granger had a home in Marbella . Sir Alan Sugar , of 'The Apprentice' fame in Britain has a home in Marbella. James Hewitt, famous for his liaisons with Princess Diana, now resides and works in his own Polo House club and restaurant on the Golden Mile.

Media references

'Puerto Banús' is one of the main turistic sites of Marbella.

Santiago Segura's Torrente comedy film series took its second part Torrente 2: Misión en Marbella (2001, the highest grossing Spanish film ever) to Marbella, where the repulsive cop José Luis Torrente meets the kitsch inhabitants of the city in an intrigue of international politics.

Marbella was featured in the popular political thriller, Syriana. It was used as the location for a private party which an Arabian Emir hosts. Marbella was portrayed as an extremely affluent city with most cars at the entrance of the palace being very expensive. In the same year it appeared in Steven Spielberg's Munich in a very similar context.

In 2006, there was an international advertisement advertising Marbella as a tourist destination. The song on the advert is aptly called Marbella and is performed by singer Cristie.

The Finnish 1985 comedy film Uuno Epsanjassa is situated in Marbella.

The beach-front in Marbella

Many other movies and TV programmes such as Nip/Tuck portray it as a playground for the rich.

ITV aired a TV programme in spring 2007 called Marbella Belles which portrays a series of British woman who now live in Marbella with their rich partners.

Cast of Living On The Edge visit on the fourth episode of the first season.

It is also referenced in the stage play "Noises Off " by Michael Frayn. The character Phillip and his wife Belinda have been tax exiles in Spain. The character Gary thinks he and his guest are alone in the house, when he spots Phillip, and thinks he's a ghost. Gary: "Hold on a second, you're not from the other world!" Phillip: "Yes, yes, Marbella!"

Carlos Baute's song "Colgando en tus Manos" mentions him and his love vacationing in Marbella and Marta Sanchez sings this line in their duet version of the song.

References

La Venus de Marbella

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Marbella is one of the Mediterranean's most representative tourist venues and a top favorite for travellers. What was once a small white village of fishermen is now one of the most cosmopolitan beach resorts on the Costa del Sol in Spain.

Get in

By air

Malaga Airport (Aeropuerto Pablo Ruiz Picasso) is serviced by most European carriers otherwise fly in to Gibraltar, although this entails a 1.5 hour drive.

By car

The main coast road (N340, now known as the A7) connects the major towns along the whole southern coast and Marbella is approx 30 minutes drive along the N340 from the provincial capital, Malaga. If you are prepared to pay the toll fee (around 4-6 Euros depending upon season) you can take the new AP-7 road which runs parallel to the N340, but with less traffic and higher speed limits means you will reach your destination more quickly.

By bus

Long distance buses run from a terminal on the motorway, about one km up from the beach.[1]

There are high quality regular bus services along the length of the Costa. Although cheap, the buses can run to their own timetable (!) and are often very busy in summer.

By train

There is a train service between Fuengirola and Malaga, which due to be extended to run further down the coast to Marbella in the near future.

  • Hire Car - all the major car hire firms are represented, but the best value will probably come from local firms. Small car for around 80-90 euros a week in off season.
  • Taxis If travelling any distance agree the fare in advance. Official rates should be displayed inside any licensed taxi. Phone 952 823 835
  • The Old Town & Orange Square - although a modern town, Marbella is full of history, its origins date back to 1600 BC so it's fair to say there is a little part of history to be found in every corner of the "old town", with its Moorish castle, and famous "Orange Square". The historical old quarter with the Andalucian/Moorish mix can still be found with its flower filled balconies and narrow streets.
  • Golf - If you love golf then Marbella has spectacular golf courses that have been designed by the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. There are more than 40 quality courses to be played throughout the Costa del Sol making it a perfect destination for the golf enthusiast. See also: Spain section of main Golf article
  • Horseracing - about 15 minutes from the centre of Marbella is the Hipodromo Mijas Costa [2]. The recently built all weather racetrack has meetings throughout the year including floodlit night racing on summer weekends. The course also boasts plenty of entertainment including bars, music and restaurants.
  • Ski - Marbella is the perfect base to visit the famous Spanish Ski resort of Sierra Nevada (1.5 hours away by car)
  • Don Quijote [3] Spanish school in Marbella is a great school where you can take 4-6 hours of courses a day. All courses including beginner courses are taught entirely in Spanish.

Buy

Shopping Centres:

  • El Corte Inglés - Ramon Areces 29660 Puerto Banús Tel. 952 90 99 90
  • Marina Banús - C/ Ramon Areces, Centro, (opposite El Corte Inglés). Puerto Banús

Clothing:

  • New Yorker - Ramon Areces, s/n Centro Comercial Marina Banús 29660 Puerto Banús
  • Versace - 29660 Puerto Banús Tel. 952 81 02 96
  • Casta & Puro - Avda. de la Ribera Complejo Gran Marbella 29660 Puerto Banús Tel. 677 29 50 57
  • Al Dente & Champagne Bar - Urb. Jardines del Puerto, Puerto Banús; tel. 952 90 61 81 - Italian restaurant
  • Babilonia Restaurant - Ctra. de Istan - Km.0,8 29600 Marbella; tel. 952 82 88 61 - Italian & international
  • Brown's Bar and Bistro - Pino Golf de Don Carlos 18 Elviria, Marbella; tel. 952 838 604 - British cuisine
  • El Argentino - Centro comercial elviria; tel. 951 310 087 - charcoal grill
  • El Oceano - CN 340 Km 199, Miraflores; tel. 952 587 550 - international
  • La Meridiana - 0.1 km N, Cno. la Cruz, S/N, 29600 Marbella; tel. 952 776 190 - international
  • Trader Vic's - Urbanización La Alcazaba, Puerto Banús; tel. 952 816 100 - international
  • La Taverna del Pinxto, Avenida Miguel Cano 7 (One block from Playa de Venus). Basque style tapas. Set lunch 9 euros, tapas 1,50.  edit
  • Le Papillon Restaurant & Beach Club, /Cuesta S/N Urb Marbesa CN340 KM 193 Marbella, +34 952 834 113, [4]. from 11AM until late. Situated on the at Marbesa. Menu which includes a selection of fresh fish and shellfish and some meat dishes. The seafood paella is popular. Sunlounger and umbrella rental service and a kids play area. (mailto:info@restaurantepapillon.com) From €12.  edit
  • Robertos Ristorante Italiano, C/Cuesta S/N Urb Marbesa CN340 KM 193 Marbella, +34 952 839 190, [5]. 9AM until late. Offers a variety of home made Pizzas and pasta dishes as well as some more traditional Italian cuisine. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and does take aways. Flamenco show and a Buffet night on a weekly basis. From €10.  edit

Drink

Most late night action takes place in Puerto Banús, or in one of the clubs along the 7 km road there.

  • El Catalonia, Puerto Deportivo Marbella Local 4 MARBELLA - MÁLAGA (In the Marbella port.), +34 625 54 85 97, [6]. Opens 1700. Relaxed, water front dining and drinking spot. Serve fresh, local food for dinner. Host private events. Spanish/English/French spoken.  edit
  • Dreamers - Ctra.N-340, Km.175. Rio Verde 29660 Nueva Andalucia; tel. 952 812 080
  • La Notte -0.1 km N - Cno. la Cruz, S/N, 29600 Marbella; tel. 952 777 625
  • Nikki Beach - Playa Hotel Don Carlos Carretera de Cadiz 29600 KM. 192 ; tel. 952 836 239
  • Olivia Valere - upscale restaurant, bar and disco; Ctra. de Istan - Km.0,8 29600 Marbella; tel. 952 82 88 61
  • Le, C/Cuesta S/N Urb Marbesa CN340 KM 193 Marbella, +34 952 834 113 (), [7]. 11AM until late. Situated on the at Marbesa. Menu which includes a selection of fresh fish and shellfish and some meat dishes. The seafood paella is popular. Sunlounger and umbrella rental service and a kids play area. From 12€.  edit
  • El Toro Residential Apartments, Av. Asturias S/N Urb Marbesa CN 340 km 193 - 29604 Marbella, +34 952 839 190, [8]. checkin: From 9.00AM; checkout: 12.00 PM. The beach, multiple facilities and the proximity to Marbella, has made el Toro Residential Apartments a favourite family holiday destination. El Toro is at the heart of the Costa del Sol, being near to Marbella, numerous golf courses, and the pretty port of Cabopino with its fine restaurants and popular sandy beach. There are good local transport facilities and multiple facilities are nearby. It is not essential to have a car. Beach restaurants/bars are in abundance. From 375€ per week.  edit
  • Pensión Aduar, Calle Aduar 7, Old Town, +34 952 773 578 (), [9]. Probably the cheapest beds in Old Town. Also has triples and quads, Single 15 euros, double 25.  edit
  • The Hostal, Calle Isaac Peral, old town. Shared bathrooms, roof terrace, no breakfast. Bar with pool table. Single 20 euros.  edit
  • Alanda Hotel and Spa [10] (*****) Boulevard Principe Alfonso Von Hohenlohe, S/N,Marbella Telephone : 952899600. (There are another two NH hotels in Marbella [11] if this one is full).
  • Club Playa Real, C/Cuesta S/N urb Marbesa CN 340 km 193 - 29604 Marbella, +34 952 839 190, [12]. checkin: 09.00AM; checkout: 12.00PM. From 50€.  edit
  • Marbella Beach Resort, C/Cuesta S/N urb Marbesa CN 340 km 193 - 29604 Marbella, +34 952 839 190, [13]. checkin: From 9.00 AM; checkout: From 12.00PM. One, two and three bedroom air conditioned self catering apartments with terraces providing views to the beach and the sea. Satellite tv and internet connection. From 737€ per week.  edit
  • Gran Hotel Guadalpin Marbella Spa [14] (*****) Principe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, cn40 Km.179, Tel. 952 243 242
  • The Townhouse [15] (hostel) C/Alderete 7 Plaza Tetuán, Marbella Telephone : 0034 952 90 17 91 Fax : 0034 952 90 17 91
  • The Beach House [16] (hostel) Urb El ChaparralCN. 340 km 203 Marbella Telephone : +34 95 249 45 40 Fax : +34 95 249 45 40
  • Marbella Club Hotel [17] (*****) CN340, Km 180,Marbella Telephone : 952822211
  • Gran Melia Don Pepe Hotel(34) 952 770300, Discover the secret of Marbella at the palatial Gran Melia Don Pepe, the 5-star luxury resort situated in the heart of Spain´s idyllic Andalucian region. Verdant gardens, sleek aesthetics, and a distinct Mediterranean air drape the sumptuous resort, imbuing Gran Melia with a warmth and grandeur all its own.
  • Gibraltar - visit the historical British Colony, climb the famous rock and see the mischievous Barbary Apes. NB You will need your passport as the Spanish Guardia operate a full border control.
  • Puerto Banús - is the famous yacht marina, lined with popular bars and restaurants, and a veritable posers' paradise. Plenty of late night bars and the odd celebrity are to be found here, but don't forget your wallet, it's not cheap! Some 7 km along the beach.
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