Marbella is advertised in holiday brochures as the most exclusive resort on the Costa del Sol, which could possibly mean that if people haven’t got loads of money they are excluded! Certainly it is the playground of the rich and famous – and infamous! Film stars and footballers rub shoulders with foreign royalty but the town has also been the haunt of crooks and undesirables including the Russian Mafia and Osama Bin Laden though, to be fair, this was before he embarked on his terrorism career. Even local government has been corrupt there – so much so, that the Spanish government took the unprecedented step of suspending the Marbella council.
However, the town is a major tourist centre and for good reason. This jet setting resort has hotels, villas and mansions fit for kings yet despite its opulence it has a perfectly preserved old town. This old Moorish quarter is a warren of narrow twisting streets and alleyways. Small restaurants, cafés and boutiques occupy many of the whitewashed buildings that often have wrought iron balconies festooned with geraniums or bougainvillaea. This part of Marbella is extremely photogenic and is a mix of Moorish and Christian architecture because the old houses are interspersed with the occasional church.
|Plaza de los Naranjos|
The heart of the old town is the delightfully named Plaza de los Naranjos – so called because of its orange trees. Attractive buildings surround the square including the 16th century Town Hall. There are several outdoor cafés here and it is the perfect place to unwind over a glass of beer.
A couple of miles away is Puerto Banús. Here you can see how the rich spend some of their ill-gotten gains, as many luxury yachts are berthed at the marina in this chic suburb of Marbella.