Geoffrey Donoghue of Always Marbella property sales and rentals, reports on the latest news and events. For more information please visit Always Marbella’s website at www.alwaysmarbella.com
Businesses in Marbella´s charming “Casco Antiguo” are offering a new way to experience the area´s entertainment, culture, gastronomy and shopping
Since the historic heart of Marbella is tucked away, just north of the town´s main thoroughfare, visitors sometimes miss its authentic and simple charm, as they are instead drawn to more well known tourist temptations of Puerto Banus or Marbella´s Golden Mile. However the popularity of Old Town is increasing as both independent travellers and residents look to enjoy a day´s shopping or an evening dining out in a relaxed environment.
To help cement the area´s growing success, over 140 local business offer free parking, discounts in retail and hospitality as well as tickets to museums. The discount pass, priced at 35 euros and available shortly from local hotels, is intended not only to entice more people to Old Town, but also to make sure that visitors discover more of the attractive corner of Marbella.
Shopping is one of the highlights of Marbella, well served as it is with big name retailers in the commercial shopping centres, and luxury boutiques on the Golden Mile and in the port; but Old Town offers something different, with its over 200 independent stores. Together they offer a personal service selling everything from antiques, designer goods, clothes, shoes, traditional childrens toys, crafts and some of Spain´s finest olive oil. Shopping in Marbella´s old town is reminiscent of the high streets of small towns in a bygone age, with unique stores with personality. To keep the authentic retail feel, head to the town´s municipal market to see stalls selling the freshest food at some of the best prices in town.
Towards the end of the last century, a combination of rapid economic, tourism and a desire to embrace the future sadly saw much of the coast´s traditional architecture destroyed and replaced with new build. Marbella´s Casco Antiguo has luckily escaped relatively unscathed from the construction boom, and still one can walk the narrow cobbled streets that echo the layout of the original ancient Arabic medina. Now, the streets are lined with historic Andalucian white washed homes, with traditional “rejas” on the windows, and pots of ferns and geraniums outside. The area also boasts some of Marbella´s most interesting chapels and churches and of course, in the heart of Old Town is the “Plaza de los Naranjos”, or Orange Square as it is commonly known. Especially during the winter season this is a wonderful place to enjoy the ambiance of Old Town with its historic buildings and fragrant fruit trees; and plenty of street cafes. Now it might be hard to believe that not so many years ago the area was under threat from developers and local resident groups had to campaign to protect the small houses and traffic free streets from the expansion of the neighbouring towering residential and office blocks. Thankfully now everyone agrees that the historical district of Marbella is one of the town´s greatest assets. It was even on the itinerary of Michelle Obama when she visited the Costa last year, further securing its popularity locally, nationally and beyond.
Close to Orange Square is the Bazan Palace, now restored and home to the Museum for Contemporary Spanish Engraving. The “Old Town all included” pass offers entry to the museum as wall as the the Bonsai Museum a little to the north of the Old Town, where visitors can discover one of Europe´s finest collections of miniture trees.
Taking a new look at an old favourite like Marbella´s Casco Antiguo is equalling appealing to residents who often come to enjoy its restaurants and bars. Some of the town´s most established eateries can be found in the narrow streets; with a wide range of cuisines on offer including Italian, Asian, French, Belgian, Modern European, Creative Spanish and of course traditional fish restaurants and buzzing tapas bars. In fact Old Town has some of the best tapas bars in Marbella, offering an authentic experience. One can create a personal tapas tour, one moment choosing classic Malagueña seafood or meat tapas, or by stepping into another bar, enjoying the best from Granada or Cordoba.
Room with a view
With the Old Town becoming more of a focus for independent travellers coming to Marbella, the hospitality sector has invested in the area, and now it offers srylish boutique hotel accommodation in restored, historic Andalucian residences, complementing the more homespun local hotels and B&Bs.
President of the local Association of Trade and Commerce of Casco Antiguo, Carola Herrero said that “the development of the discount pass has received various grants from the Government of Andalucia and the town hall” and will be launched soon; so take the opportuntiy to take a new look an old favourite.
source: sur in english 17.02.2011