Marbella’s Marvellous Old Town
Marbella has a deservedly golden reputation as one of Europe’s premier resort towns. It ranks alongside the south of France and Ibiza as one of the continent’s glitzier holiday destinations, and although the visitors of today might not quite match Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly for stellar quality, it continues to have many fans among aristocratic and high-net-worth individuals.
A lot of visitors come to enjoy the beaches during the day and the pleasures of the nightlife and the bars that line the world-famous marina of nearby Puerto Banús. But there are equally as many who return again and again to leisurely ramble the quaint streets of Marbella’s Casco Antiguo or Old Town, both during the day and at night.
The area covered by the Old Town is wrapped within the old city walls and little has changed to its shape or layout since the 16th century. Its centrepiece is the Plaza de los Naranjos, referred to in English as Orange Square. Here you can dine outdoors in the evening as the scent of oranges wafts through the warm night air and the delightful smell of traditional Spanish cuisine awakens your appetite. Students of architecture will find the square’s three largest buildings of interest: the Town Hall, the Mayor’s House and the Chapel of Santiago are examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Mudéjar styles dating to just after the reconquest of Spain in the 15th century.
The area is also known for its charming shops, and some of Marbella’s best restaurants are tucked away in this maze of tiny streets; if you’re looking for something unique that you’re unlikely to experience anywhere else, then the restaurant El Patio de los Perfumes, set in a 200 year-old house, will provide a night to remember. For tapas and a friendly ambience La Polaca on the north edge of the Old Town, is a great place to meet local Marbellís.
America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, thoroughly enjoyed a tour around Marbella’s Old Town during her visit, and while you may not bump into someone like her in Marbella every day, the Old Town is Marbella’s own star attraction and one that adds a touch of historic charm and elegance to a luxurious modern resort town.