Some historians believe Phoenicians founded Marbella in the 7th century BC, but there is insufficient evidence to support that theory. Proof does confirm a first century AD Roman community including a small bridge that was part of the Via Augusta.

Roman ruins and artifacts are also found in the Old Town (Casco Antiguo) and nearby communities.

The 10th Century Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba fortified Marbella with an Alcazaba and walls to protect the city. During the Taifas Kingdoms Era, Marbella was ruled by Malaga and after 1286 by Granada.

In 1485 the town surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs without resistance.

Ermita de Santiago oldest church in Marbella, built in 15th century

An early physical change to the city was the construction of the Plaza de los Naranjos to be the city centre. Typical white Andalusia houses and three historic buildings surround the plaza: the Casa Consistorial, Casa del Corregidor and the Ermita de Santiago.

The Casa Consistorial De Marbella, built in 1568, now used as the town hall

Plaza of the Oranges

By the end of World War II Marbella had been reduced to a small village of 900 inhabitants. In 1943, influenced by the magnificent climate and superb beaches, the wealthy aristocrat Richard Soriano moved to Marbella. He made it popular with his rich friends who followed him there and Marbella soon became a playground for the rich and famous.

King Fahd, a frequent visitor to Marbella

One was the Saudi Prince Fahd, who first visited Marbella in 1974 and was a frequent visitor until his death in 2005. Fahd, often spending 5 million Euros a day, would bring as many as a 1000 people with him.

Marbella remained a favorite destination for the jet set into the early 1990’s when the city experienced political, economic, and corruption problems. It was near bankruptcy in 2006 when the national government took the drastic action of taking over the municipal government.

Marbella is in the process of recovery under current Mayor Maria Angeles Muñoz. For those interested in the work of Salvador Dali, there are 10 bronze works on the Avenida del Mar.