About Costa del Sol
Information about Costa del Sol in Spain
Marbella lies on Spain’s southern coastline, in the heart of the Costa del Sol. With a stunning backdrop of the Sierra Mountain hills, the city has long been one of the region’s most popular resorts. Marbella is a wealthy area and despite its considerable tourism industry, the city retains a historic character in many neighborhoods.
Much of its charm is centered around the Old Town district and the spacious Plaza de los Naranjos, a public square in central Marbella, surrounded by many grand buildings, including the town hall (ayuntamiento).
Large areas of the city were renovated and improved during the 1990s, including many of the streets and beaches. With a stunning coastline stretching for more than 25 km / 16 miles, the sandy beaches are without doubt the resort’s main tourist attraction, with many being lined by the Paseo Maritimo, a scenic boardwalk.
With such an enviable coastal setting and beautiful beaches, it is no surprise that tourism is an important part of life both here and along the Costa del Sol. The main tourism bureaus in Marbella include the Central Tourist Information Office on the Plaza de los Naranjos and the Seafront Tourist Information Office on Glorieta de la Fontanilla.
Marbella is divided into a number of notable regions, which include the Old Town district, the downtown district, nearby the very luxurious Puerto Banús, and both Estepona and San Pedro de Alcántara, which are often considered to be suburbs but still with that special Spanish charm.
The city’s main tourist attractions include the Paseo Maritimo – the famous Marbella boardwalk, stretching along the beachfront, offering outstanding coastal views; Plaza de Toros – the Marbella bullring, a notable landmark on the resort’s skyline, with a capacity of around 10,000 spectators; and José Banús Port – a busy marina with many waterfront restaurants and shops, and a particularly vibrant nightlife.
Further top tourist attractions in Marbella include Basilica Vega del Mar – ancient ruins of a 4th-century church, where many important excavations have taken place; Murallas del Castillo – the Castle Walls, a vivid reminder of the area’s past, located in the city’s Old Quarter; Las Bóveda – the Marbella Vaults, historic remains of Roman baths, with guided tours and well-preserved features; and Villa Romana de Rio Verde – significant remains situated on the outskirts, with many archaeological treasures. This busy Spanish resort is also home to a number of noteworthy gardens and parks, such as the Parque Arroyo de la Represa, the Parque de la Alameda and the Auditorio de la Constitución – which is situated alongside the seafront.
Puerto Banus is only a few kilometers west of Marbella, and being under the Municipality of Marbella shares many characteristics of the Costa del Sol’s most well known resort. Famous for it’s picturesque marina filled with multi-million dollar yachts, Puerto Banus also boasts a beach that stretches for one kilometer – the golden sands are a major attraction to this town that was once a traditional Spanish fishing village decades ago.
As with any resort associated with the rich and famous, Puerto Banus has more than it’s fair share of pubs, clubs, restaurants, world-class shopping and casino facilities. Designer names can be found on all the main streets, but if you prefer to browse smaller, more traditional Spanish shops and boutiques then there are plenty of these too. Notably the premier Spanish department store El Corte Ingles with it’s five stories, and the Marina Banus Shopping Center are two of the most popular locations that shoppers head for. Alternatively, a visit to the weekly market held in the bullring in Nueva Andalucia / Puerto Banus each Saturday morning is a great way to buy both local products and holiday souvenirs!
Puerto Banus nightlife is as good as it gets and holds a world-class reputation. It can carry on until dawn if you want it to, or if you prefer something a bit more sedate then you can settle for a quiet drink and tapas in any one of the countless local bars spread throughout the town. If you do get the urge to have a taste of Tinsel Town, there are numerous cocktail and wine bars spread around the Marina and seafront areas, known as the Muelle Rivera – incidentally these are great areas for doing a bit of ‘star spotting’!
The surrounding areas of Puerto Banus are also to be explored and enjoyed. The Sierra Bermeja Mountains rise up to the north of the town, and numerous golf courses are scattered within a 10 kilometer radius of Puerto Banus. Needless to say, the golf courses are some of the best in Europe and go towards making Puerto Banus one of the world’s top golfing holiday destinations.
As with Marbella, Puerto Banus enjoys it’s own micro-climate and boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year, with a year round average temperature of 19 degrees. While the summer months may get a little hectic, May and September are probably two of the best months to visit this resort.
Marbella still stands out as the primary spot in southern Spain to invest in, either to buy a property or for larger investments.
Interesting Facts of Benahavís
Surface Area: 145.8 square kilometers
What the natives are called: Benahavileños
Outstanding Sights: Castle of Montemayor, Church of Virgen del Rosario, sixteenth-century palace, watchtowers
Geographical Location: in the interior of the Western Costa del Sol region, 21 kilometers from Marbella. The center of the village is 160 meters above sea level. The average annual rainfall is 900 liters per square meter and the average temperature is slightly more than 17º C.
The municipality of Benahavís stretches across the foothills of the mountain range and is shaped by three rivers, each forming its own valley. It is one of the most mountainous areas of the Western Costa del Sol, with a richly diverse landscape and some truly admirable places to visit.
It is an interior location but due to its proximity to the coast, it has of necessity been a participant in the development that has occurred there. While the village center preserves all the character of the White Villages, large housing developments have sprung up in its environs, especially to the south, along with magnificent golf courses. It is an important detail, however, that 70 percent of the surface area of this municipality has been declared an “Environmentally Significant Mountain Complex”, a designation that protects all that territory from development excesses.
The rivers Guadaiza, Guadalmina and Guadalmedina meander through large expanses of forest in which pines, live oaks and cork oaks predominate. The valleys of these rivers have historically been used as routes into the Ronda highlands. There is no doubt they were so used from the time of the Phoenicians until that of the Arabs as there is proof of this in different places not far from the village. These lands were therefore of significant strategic value since very ancient times.
The first nucleus of a village, however, was formed in Arab times. It seems to have been founded in the late eleventh century and in the shadow of the Montemayor castle. This fortress witnessed the entire history of the village, from the clashes among the Muslims themselves until their confrontations with the Christians, and much later it was also a scene of the struggle between the Spanish and French during the Napoleonic invasion in the early nineteenth century.
The castle and the village passed into the hands of the Christians when, in 1485, the Catholic Monarchs took Marbella and its surroundings, which included Benahavís and the village of Daidín. This entire territory was granted to the Count of Cifuentes in 1492 in payment for the services he had rendered to the crown of Castile. It would not be until 1572 that, with the approval of Felipe II, Benahavís became independent of Marbella.
Interesting Facts of Estepona
Surface Area: 136.8 square kilometers
What the natives are called: Esteponeros
Geographical Location: in the western part of the Western Costa del Sol.
The northern area of the municipality adjoins the Ronda region, while the village itself is located on the coastal fringe. The average rainfall is 900 liters per square meter and the average annual temperature is 17º C.
Almost the entire municipality of Estepona is dominated by the majestic Sierra Bermeja range. This massif is formed of volcanic rocks known as periodite, a mineral rich in iron oxide, that imparts a characteristic reddish tinge to the terrain. The Paraje Natural (Nature Park) of Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja (highest point 1,449 meters) is located in this setting. Here are found the largest masses of periodite in southern Europe. This natural space, with an area of 1,236 hectares, also preserves the only forest of Spanish firs on this type of rock.
The preceding may give some idea of this area’s extraordinary ecological value. This translates visually into an beautiful scenery, especially at the highest elevations, which command an extremely broad panoramic view encompassing not only the coast but also the Atlas mountain range on the neighboring continent of Africa.
In the lower regions of the municipality the waters that come down from the mountains have formed several short rivers in the eastern part, including the Padrón, Castor, and Velerín, on whose banks citrus and fruit trees grow, while in the west, and in some areas that meet the sea, one again sees fruit orchards and, even more frequently, broad fields of grain, low brush and grazing lands. This is in frank contrast to the coastal strip, where, besides the village itself, endless urban developments have sprung up, as is to be expected of a first class tourist locality.
Nevertheless, the municipality has avoided massive development as much as possible, so there are still large green zones between the most heavily developed areas, and even these generally have open spaces. This has led to the Town Hall of Estepona being honored with the “Live in Spain-CISA 2004″ award for the best residential urban development planning.
The village’s origin is rather confusing, but it seems that the Phoenicians, who established a commercial trading post at this point, called it Astapa. Some historians connect Estepona to the Iberian town of Saldaba, which others think was in Marbella, and there are those who cite Cilciana as the origin of the village. Be that as it may, on the hill of El Torreón ruins have been found that well may be of this primitive settlement. There are remains of Phoenician and Roman settlements, the most remarkable being those found at the mouth of the river Guadalmansa.
It has been established with more certainty that this locality was besieged by the Roman Lucius Marcius because its residents had remained loyal to the Carthaginians, until in 208 B. C. it fell to the Romans. In the tenth century, when the Caliphate of Córdoba achieved its greatest splendor, the Muslims founded the city of Estebbuna, the predecessor of Estepona. Later, and after the customary confrontations between Muslims and Christians-Alfonso XI fought a historic battle off the coast of Estepona in 1342 and emerged victorious-the village was conquered by Enrique IV, under whose ruse the San Luis castle was built, of which some ruins still remain on Castillo Street.
The locality was subject to the jurisdiction of Marbella until 1729, when Philip V granted it its independence by means of a royal rough charter) that is preserved in the municipal archives.
Outstanding Sights; Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church, Clock Tower, El Calvario chapel, San Luis Castle walls, watchtowers, Museo Etnográfico (Museum of Ethnography), Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum), Museo de Paleontología (Palaeontology Museum), Luis García Berlanga Museum, Plaza de las Flores, Bullring, Dolmen of Corominas Visitor Centre, sea side promenade, marina.
Interesting Facts of Mijas
Surface Area: 147 square kilometers
What the natives are called: Mijeños
Monuments: the Virgen de la Peña (Virgin of the Rock) hermitage, Inmaculada Concepción church, Plaza de Toros (Bullring), Carromato de Max museum, Casa Museo (House Museum), Museo de las Torres Vigçías (Watch Towers Museum)
Geographical Location: in the western Costa del Sol region. The locality is some 430 meters above sea level and is 30 kilometers from the provincial capital and 8 from neighboring Fuengirola. The municipality records an average rainfall of 660 liters per square meter and the average temperature is 17º C.
The municipality of Mijas takes in all that country between the mountain range that gives it its name and the sea. The terrain thus ascends in a short distance and at times rather abruptly from sea level on the coast to the highest peak in the territory (1,130 meters). The ravines, peaks and more or less gentle hills still have part of their indigenous vegetation despite the area’s spectacular urban development making it ever more difficult to maintain grazing lands and olive groves, which yield little income in this day and age.
Nevertheless, the rugged nature of the landscape and a certain respect for the surroundings have kept golf courses, brick and cement from hiding the natural beauty of this municipality, where the mountains and the village itself continue to be the main points of reference. The coastal zone, on the other hand, is practically urbanized from the boundary of Fuengirola to that of Marbella with the exception of a few rocky areas that remain intact.
This municipality, like others in the province of Málaga, has three centers of population. In this case they are Mijas Pueblo, Las Lagunas and Cala de Mijas. The first of these is a classic whitewashed Andalusian village of Moorish origin that contains the monuments and the administrative center. Most of the municipal services and part of the building developments are in Las Lagunas while Cala de Mijas, squarely within the coastal zone, is completely given over to residential and beach tourism.
There are facts that confirm that Mijas used to belong to Turdetania while other traces attest to the presence of Greeks and Phoenicians, who set about exploiting the area’s mineral wealth. The first historic reference to the village, however, is by the geographer Ptolemy of the School of Alexandria, who must have been in these lands in the second century ADor gathered information from someone who knew them very well, judging by how exactly he describes some places.
The locality was called Tamisa during the Roman era, and there is every indication that it generated remarkable economic activity due to its proximity to the Apian Way that linked the cities of Cádiz and Málaga. The Arabs named it Mixa, from which the Christians derived the modern name of Mijas.
The Muslims took over the village very soon after landing on the Iberian Peninsula. They were already governing it in 714 and doing so quite profitably, since they permitted the inhabitants to continue to possess their property and practice their religion and customs in exchange for a certain percentage of the agricultural and livestock production.
The Muslims’ good relations with the Mozarabs were obvious in the time of the strongman Umar ibn Hafsún, with whom they maintained cordial and beneficial relations since they needed one another mutually. With the death of Umar ibn Hafsún, Abd ar-Rahmán III re-conquered the area.
resisted the attacks of the Christian army until the conquest of Málaga in 1487. When they learned of that city’s surrender the residents of Mijas decided that an unconditional surrender would be the best option. The emissaries that were sent to Málaga to carry out the surrender were taken prisoner and some were sold as slaves. In 1494 the municipality’s land was divided among Old Christians. The locality was granted the status of “villa” (royal burgh) in 1521 as a reward for their loyalty to Carlos I during the Comuneros rebellion and Joanna the mad also declared it to be exempt from payment of sales taxes (“alcabalas”).
was the scene centuries later of an important historical event that took place on 2 December 1831. General Torrijos landed on the beach of El Charcón with 52 companions. They went across the municipal territory towards the mountains, from which they came down to Alhaurín de la Torre to seek shelter in a mansion that belonged to the Count of Mollina. Days later, on 11 December, the general and his men were executed by firing squad on the beaches of San Andrés in the city of Málaga for having stood up the absolutism of Ferdinand VII.