Excavations and prehistoric finds in the cave Pecho Redondo in the Sierra Blanca suggest that in the Paleolithic the first people lived where Marbella is today. Nevertheless, scientists suspect that the first settlements originated in the time of the Phoenicians. However, there is no concrete evidence except of some Phoenician finds and archaeological excavation at the Río Real and Cerro Torrón.
Some hundred years before Christ, the Romans spread on the Costa del Sol. Excavations and finds on the Calle Escuelas, as well as the remains of a Roman villa from the 1st century AD at the mouth of the Río Verde are proof that the Romans settled in the municipal area of Marbella. In San Pedro Alcántara even parts of the Roman settlement Cilniana were discovered.
In 756, the Muslim Umayyads founded the Caliphate of Córdoba. In the 10th century they built the castle in Marbella and a few watchtowers. Researchers assume that the name Marbella was found within this time. The Arabs called the place Marbil-La. From linguistic studies this name in turn could be derived of an old Iberian place name.
In 1010, the peak of the caliphate was reached in Andalusia. After a civil war and the overthrow of caliph Hisham III. the Umayyad Dynasty collapsed. In 1031 it was completely disintegrated into so-called Taifas – small, independent kingdoms.
During the so-called Reconquista – the reconquest of Andalusia by Catholic kings – in 1485 Marbella went to the Crown of Castile without bloodshed. Within the following years the Catholic kings started to make numerous changes in the city. During this time, the Plaza de los Naranjos was built in the Castilian style – the place where the town hall of Marbella is located today.
In the early 19th century, the first blast furnaces were used in Marbella, which produced 75 percent of Spain's total cast iron. In 1860, the Marqués del Duero founded an agricultural colony in San Pedro Alcántara. At the same time, the steel industry in Marbella has been dismantled, which is why many citizens had to work in fishing or on agricultural farms again. But when it came to a phylloxera plague, unemployment and thus hunger and poverty increased. Many citizens turned their backs on Marbella. At the end of the 19th century, the city's population consisted of a small group of oligarchs.
In the mid-20th century, Alfonso von Hohenlohe, who was part of the international jet set, acquired large tracts of land in Marbella – including the Finca Santa Margarita, which he rebuilt into the Marbella Club hotel and which he opened in 1954. Shortly thereafter, other wealthy people came up with the idea of buying land, houses and villas in Marbella, including the families Bismarck, Rothschild, Metternich, Thurn and Taxis and Goldsmith. They transformed Marbella into an international jet set hangout. The tourism started to boom.
Marbella mainly lives from tourism. This is confirmed by the economic data. Over 60 percent of total city income is generated through the services sector. Above all, this includes work in the real estate and hospitality industry. Another 20 percent is generated by trade. Marbella is one of the few municipalities with the highest family income available per inhabitant in Andalusia.
The climate in Marbella is mild and constant. Within the summer, from May to October, the temperatures rise up to 30 degrees and more by day while they never drop below 20 degrees at night. During the winter from October to May, the temperatures reach a daily value of about 18 to 22 degrees, while at night it could be cold by only ten degrees. All the year you do have a constant humidity. The water temperature rises from 23 to 26 degrees in the summer. In winter it hardly drops below 12 degrees. On average, there are 3.000 hours of sunshine per year.