Marbella has many attractions, but one of the most evocative – and the perfect place for a relaxing stroll to daydream of times gone by – is its old town or casco antiguo. Hidden amongst the modern buildings of the bustling town, it is an oasis of calm where very little would appear to have changed over the centuries. Always surprising, it may not be large, but its narrow alleys hide delightful secrets to be discovered seemingly at every corner, as the visitor explores this hidden gem of Renaissance Spain.
The ancient walled city follows nearly the same layout that would have been familiar to the townsfolk in the 16th century, soon after the Christian reconquest of Spain from its Moorish rulers.
At the heart of the old town is the Plaza de los Naranjos – or Orange Square – dominated by the Town Hall, which was built on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs in 1568 in Castilian Renaissance style. Opposite is the Chapel of Santiago, which is thought to predate the square. The plaza is cool and leafy – shaded by the orange trees from which it takes its name – an ideal spot at which to take a rest and a refreshing drink at one of the cafés and restaurants that abound in the old town.
Home to a vibrant community
Other highlights of the centre are the remains of the Arabic castle and defensive walls – the site is now a school, showing how the area is still home to a vibrant community – the 17th century Baroque Church of Santa María de la Encarnación and the Hospital Bazán, home to the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings.
There are several other sights to view too, but perhaps the main attraction of the old town is the charm the area offers the visitor. As well as some fine restaurants tucked away in the ancient buildings, craft shops and designer label boutiques can be found next to high quality jewellers, making it an excellent spot for relaxed shopping.
From the Golden Mile to the heart of old Marbella
While the wealthy merchants of the past may have lived in and around the Plaza de los Naranjos, today’s more affluent resident has gravitated towards the exclusive Golden Mile.
There they can live in private and secure luxury properties and enjoy the opulent Marbella lifestyle, while still being close enough to appreciate the classical charms of the town. Indeed, those living in the more westerly parts of the Golden Mile can easily take a pleasant stroll along the stylish seafront promenade as far as the Avenida del Mar. From there a walk up the marble tiled thoroughfare, past a series of statues created by Salvador Dalí, across the Alameda botanical gardens and they will find themselves in the heart of the old town.
One short walk takes you from modern Marbella to the town’s past, taking in the Mediterranean Sea, the highest quality modern art, semi-tropical gardens and the beauty of Renaissance buildings. It shows that Marbella truly is somewhere special to live.
Pure Living Properties, located at the iconic Hotel Puente Romano, specialises in Golden Mile luxury properties. If you would like to live the Marbella lifestyle please get in touch, as we have the right home for you.
Javier is the founder and CEO of Pure Living Properties. Born and raised in Marbella in an entrepreneurial family who settled on the Costa del Sol in the 1960s, when Marbella’s real estate and tourism industry was just a fledgling market, Javier is an expert connoisseur of Puente Romano, which he calls home, and the Golden Mile, but also of the best areas, projects and companies, as their owners and developers have been among his inner circle since childhood.