Wednesday 20 October 2010

Marbella Old Town, Andalusia

About a square-kilometre of heavily-restored, but atmospheric, cobbled streets and alleys, Marbella's old town is close to the beaches and the resort's smart boardwalk. The remains of the Arabian castellated walls, supposedly dating from the 9th century, partially enclose an eclectic set of white-washed buildings, including an handsome and striking church, spanning hundreds of years. But you'll find yourself looking down as much as up. Beneath your feet, is an ever-changing array of elaborate patterns of cobbled stones and tiles.  You'll also find appealing tree-lined squares with vintage lamp-posts, pavement cafes and restaurants. You'll stumble upon the occasional lavishly-carved, Arabian-style wooden door and there are scores of wrought-iron balconies, decorated with flowers and pot plants, to admire.

Towering, tropical plants
Keen shoppers will home in on the old town's upmarket boutiques, while history buffs will be drawn to the the Baroque-style Church of St. Mary and the handsome 16th century town hall, which overlooks a peaceful square, shaded by rows of citrus trees.  Between the old town and the sea, is the Parque Alameda, overflowing with towering, tropical plants, punctuated with ornately-tiled seats and cris-crossed with fine stone paths. The centrepiece is a large, circular, tiled fountain, elaborately decorated with scenes of Andalusia.  You can stroll down to the beach from here via an attractive pedestrianised walkway with striking modern sculptures, flanked by rows of futuristic lamp-posts. 8/10