Certain remains have proved that Marbella has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic, although as a population core we must situate Marbella in the Phoenician period, a village that extended all along the Mediterranean.
The Romans, as the Phoenicians, expanded rapidly all around Andalusia, and the old quarter of marbella is where we’ll find the most evidence of their stay. Guadalmina has also left us with roman remains that assures their presence in this area, and amongst those ruins we must highlight the Roman villa of Rio Verde and the the roman thermal baths of Guadalmina.
Before the Arab conquest, the Visigoths occupied the area during an undefined amount of time, and a proof of this is the necropolis found that shows us the continuous occupation of this area.
During the Muslim period, this municipality was known as “Marbal-la”, which derived from a previous Iberian name. The Muslims built a castle in the 10th century and several watchtowers to protect the city. Back then, the narrow streets connected small buildings with large patios and the urban core was surrounded by vegetable farms.
It was in 1485 when the town of Marbella passed on to the hands of the Christians, when the Muslims surrendered with the idea of maintaining their properties and rights, something that didn’t last long due to the toughening of the Christian religion. It was during this period when the famous Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange tree Square) was built.
During the 17th century, the cultivation of the sugar cane expanded around the area and a number of buildings were erected that still remain today, like the Fort of San Luis, where today we’ll find the well-known Hotel El Fuerte.
During the 19th century, an agricultural colony arose which turned out to be what we know today as San Pedro de Alcantara. It was a century in which the middleclass disappeared.
It was during the 20th century when the first hotels in Marbella appeared, like the ‘Comercial’ (1918) and the hotel ‘Miramar’ (1934) and when it became the favourite place for leisure and business of many personalities such as José Banus, who was a personal friend of the dictator and one of the men responsible for the city’s development with the famous Puerto Banus.
After the second world war, propaganda of Marbella was distributed amongst the rich and famous, which meant the beginning of the luxurious tourism and a meeting point for the international jet set.