Marbella Old Town
Marbella’s old town is in the centre of Marbella, just a few hundred metres from the seafront. It is partially surrounded by the ruins of an old Arab wall and there are narrow winding streets with whitewashed buildings, old churches, squares and plenty of fascinating shops and boutiques.
A trip to Marbella would not be complete without a visit to the Casco Antiguo (Old Town). Exploring the narrow streets with their nooks and crannies, historic buildings, shops, boutiques and galleries make it a very rewarding experience.
The focal point of the old town of Marbella is the Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square) .The gardens are almost always in bloom, but spring is the best time to enjoy the blossom on the trees. If you are in the square when oranges are falling from the trees, we recommend you don´t eat them. These oranges are used in manufacturing marmalade and they are very bitter.
In the centre of the plaza, you will find a statue of King Juan Carlos facing the Town Hall. There are three very important buildings in the square – the Town Hall (el Ayuntamiento), the Magistrate´s House (Casa del Corregidor) and the Santiago Chapel (Ermita de Santiago).
The Town Hall contruction was ordered in 1568 ordered by the Chief Magistrate, Juan de Pisa Osorio completed in 1572. On the front, right-hand corner of the building you will find a sun dial, commemorative stone inscriptions, conserved and still legible, and a number of shields. One of the inscriptions dates back to June 11 1485 when the town was re-conquered from the Moors. The original Council Chambers are on two floors inside the Town Hall. The upper floor has an artistic ceiling carved in Mudéjar style and the walls are covered with curious murals dating back to 1572. They represent the eagle from the Imperial standard belonging to the Catholic King and Queen, a scene from the crucifixion, Marbella’s first coat of arms, some allegories of the power of God and the administration of justice. Also in this hall, and publicly displayed every June 11 to commemorate this date, is the Catholic King and Queen’s pendant – a very important historical relic.
When facing the Town Hall, you will see to the right the new Foreigners Assistance office. You will find someone here happy to help with further information if you need it. On the corner of Calle Nueva and the Plaza de los Naranjos, there is a fountain which was built in 1504 by Marbella’s first Christian mayor. To the right of this fountain, you will find the Casa del Corregidor, built in 1552 which combines both Gothic and Renaissance elements. The Moorish-style ceiling contains fresco murals. Beneath this, there is now a very nice restaurant, which has tables in the main square. It is a wonderful experience to eat in the square surrounded by the trees and flowers on a sultry summer night.
On the south-west corner of the Plaza de los Naranjos, you will find the Santiago Chapel (Ermita de Santiago). It was the first Christian church in Marbella and the oldest religious building in town. Built in the 15th century, it now holds religious images belonging to the Cofradia del Cristo del Amor y La Virgen de la Caridad (the Brotherhood of Love and Charity) and it includes a wooden carving of Christ in Neo-Baroque style. At Christmas, this small chapel is transformed into a nativity diorama, which is remarkable in its detail.
Leaving the Plaza de los Naranjos to the east and then turning right, you will find the Plaza de Iglesia – another plaza which is popular with both visitors and residents. Here, there is a statue of San Bernabé, Marbella´s patrón saint.
You will also find one of the most majestic buildings in Marbella – the Church of our Lady of the Incarnation (la Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación) which was built in 1618. The main facade is adorned with a beautiful red stone entrance in Baroque style, whilst the interior is that of a basilica with three sections which underwent restoration after the Spanish Civil War. The church organ is one of the most important organs built in Spain over the last 125 years. The installation began in 1972 and it was completed in 1975. It is made up of 5,000 pewter, copper and wooden pipes with four manual keyboards of 56 notes, a 36 note pedal and it also has a number of other special characteristics. The central nave has a semicircular extreme with Corinthian pillars built into the wall and covered by a spherical crypt. This forms the main frame for the Baroque style image of the city’s Patron Saint San Bernabé which stands at its centre.
Leaving the Plaza de Iglesia via Trinidad Street, you will pass a row of houses and you will then see the ruins of the castle and Roman remains taken from other constructions and used to build its walls. Only the walls are left now a small part of what was the defensive structure of Marbella. The existing wall extends to the end of Calle Portada and then disappears – as others did when in 1786, by royal command of King Carlos lll, the town and city walls were pulled down. The enclosure which surrounded the Muslim town had three access points, Puerta del Mar (Sea Entrance) Puerta de Malaga (Malaga Entrance) Puerta Ronda (Ronda Entrance). The start of construction of the castle can be dated to approximately the X century.
In the Calle de San Juan de Dios stands the chapel of the saint of the same name. Before the creation of the Bazan hospital, it was known as ‘Royal Hospital of Mercy’ alone in its purpose of providing hospital assistance in Marbella. It also served as a home for foundlings. The lower part of its facade is stone and the small 16th century whitewashed bell tower is built in popular local style. The interior has a coffered ceiling and you will find a mixture of elements of gothic-mudéjar origin and religious images. There are also some fragments of frescos discovered during a recent reformation. Although they are only fragments, they do give an idea of decoration in that time. It is only occasionally open to the public.
To the north of the old town in Calle Ancha, you will see the Santo Cristo chapel. It was built in the second half of the 16th century as part of the old Franciscan Convent. It consists of one sole nave with an interesting Tuscan column which sinks into the baptismal font. Its facade of hewn and armorial stones and double pilasters flank ocular windows along with a plinth which has a pinacle in the angles which supports a glazed ceramic octagonal roof.
There are of course many other things to see in the old town. These are just a few. But we hope you enjoy your visit and that you have found this page helpful.
Old Town Video