Marbella is unofficially considered the capital of the western Costa del Sol, and has, without a doubt, enough ingredients to be one of the most important tourist centres in Spain. Its privileged location, at the foot of the Sierra Blanca, on the coastline, provides it with excellent climatic conditions as well as great scenic beauty.
Its origins date back to Roman times, of which there are abundant archaeological remains; likewise, from the Arab period it conserves two towers and the walls of the Castle; from the Christian period, in the old quarter, it conserves the Church of La Encarnación, the Casa del Corregidor and the Hospital of San Juan de Dios.
But where Marbella abounds is in the sun and beach tourism: splendid and extensive beaches, natural areas of interest such as the Cabopino Dunes or the Pinewoods of Las Chapas, marinas, golf courses, sports clubs, and a wide variety of establishments that justify its fame. Seven kilometres away is the populous town of San Pedro de Alcántara, an annexe of Marbella, which was founded as a result of the installation of a sugar mill in 1860.
In the vicinity of San Pedro de Alcántara, which also belongs to the municipality, are the remains of the Roman colony of Cilniana – which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th century – one of the most interesting sites along the coast of Málaga, which some historians identify with the city of Salduba mentioned by Pomponio Mela. Near the beach, there are Roman baths which have been given the name of Las Bóvedas.
In the Moorish-Andalus period, the city was located on the site of the present-day city centre and played an important role in local history. During the time of the Taifa kingdoms, the Idrisies, rulers of the city, maintained a permanent confrontation with the Hammudies of Algeciras, until the arrival of the Benimerines (1274) who, after taking Marbella and Malaga, unified the territory. During the Nasrid period, it became dependent on the kingdom of Granada, a situation that would continue until the conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs in 1485. The remains of the castle walls and two defensive towers remain in the old quarter of Marbella from this period.
A new impulse, which definitively changed the physiognomy of Marbella, San Pedro de Alcántara, and the entire municipality, as well as the economic activity and the way of life of its inhabitants, took place in the second half of the 20th century, when the progressive development of tourism, which began in the sixties, transformed this town into one of the most outstanding on the world tourist scene.