Marbella in its present day format as a city and the consolidation of its appearance lies with the Moors who brought both urbanistic and architectural continuity to the city. Until that time, various races settled in Marbella- Visigoths, Vandals and Bizantines- and who, on leaving, left their cultures in the form archaeological remains. Important vestiges of Rome can also be found in the form of fortified settlement in the Old Town. In 711, the Moors, commanded by Al- Tarik, entered Spain through Tarifa, witch took its name from this Moorish leader. Due to its geographical proximity the Moors quickly settled In the Marbella area. One of its most important constructions being the Moorish castle or Alcazaba- a 'al Kasbah', in Arabic-. In its beginning its purpose was of a purely military nature but later was remodelled and a perimeter wall was built around the medina - 'the city'. In arabic defining the boundaries of what today is known as the Old Town Centre and whose perimeter was formed by the steets Peral and Portada- 'doorway'- to the North, Huerta Chica Street to the West, from Fortaleza- 'the fortress'- and Muro - 'the wall-streets to the South and the Represa spring to the East. In 1485, the Moors handed over keys of the city (then called Marbiliya) to the Catholic Kings who gave Marbella the tittle of a 'Noble and Loyal City'. The period after this was one during which better and bigger fortifications, such as the castle, the coastal with towers and the city wall were built. The Church also prospered as an example of the new faith and constructed the Ermita de Santiago- the Hermitage of Saint James- El Convento de la Trinidad- The Trinity Convent-. The San Juan de Dios hospital, and the church of Santo Cristo, to which the Bazan Hospital would be added later on. Marbella was well defended by a fortified wall which surrounded the city centre. To the North, its castle with its fortress, to the South, East and West. Its towers. Marbella's motto is 'A Way of Life' and, certainly, this luxurious resort town seems to have it all and is, once again, rising to the fore as a favourite location with the rich and famous, as well as more ordinary folk who are willing to pay just a little bit extra for southern Spain's answer to St Tropez. Not too long ago, Marbella sharpened its image still more thanks to a considerable investment initiated by the town's colourful and controversial late mayor, Jesus Gil which resulted in a massive landscaping drive. But Marbella has a down to earth side as well, an air of individuality which can be best appreciated by exploring back streets in the old part of town. One of the prettiest places is the fabled 'Orange Square' which is located just off the main street in the older district and is also home to the 16th century town hall and tourist office where you can pick up a detailed map and visitor information. Back to Orange Square, or 'La Plaza de los Naranjos', as it is called in Spanish, expect to meet with stately buildings, small shops, art galleries, bars and bistros and is a hub of activity day and night. And, depending on the time of year, the colours here can be vibrant, with the trees and exotic tropical plants set against a backdrop of dazzling white buildings and a deep blue sky. Be sure to explore the honeycomb of surrounding narrow streets where homes and shops intermingle to create the atmosphere of a small village, rather than a cosmopolitan town. There are numerous excellent restaurants to choose from, ranging from those specialising in the predictably pricey exclusive cordon bleu to the gritty individuality of a backstreet Spanish bar where the Serrano ham is gently cured by tobacco smoke and the tapas are both tasty and filling. From Guadalalmina to Cabopino, the Marbella coastline stretches along some 26 kilometres of sunny beaches bathed by the Mediterranean and where you can enjoy traditional fish and seafood favourites like sardines on a spit, fried fish and the incomparable paella. There are also two large parks in Marbella which provide some welcome shade to spend some time with a book. The amphitheatre at Constitution Park (once the garden of a private residence) is frequently used for concerts and plays in the summer. Casinos, clubs and just about every sporting activity under the sun, few places can match Marbella for world class tennis, sailing and golf. There are also three pleasure craft harbours here. However for the ultimate in coastal charisma it would be hard to beat Puerto Banus, just west of the town. This is the place to be pampered yachtside and watch the world go by or window shop at one of several of the world renowned fashion houses and boutiques. The port has grown considerably over the years and now includes a casino, commercial shopping centre, El Corte Ingles department store, marine observatory and a multi cinema with films shown in their original soundtrack. The nightlife is buzzing here with alfresco bars, piano clubs and discos which are open dusk until dawn.
Marbella Police & Emergency Numbers
- Police/Fire/Ambulance: 112
- National Police : 091
- Local Police : 092
- Guardia Civil : 062
- Fire Brigade : 080
- Ambulance : 061
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