art and culture marbella

Art and Culture Marbella | Art and Culture Malaga

If the summer has left you beached out and in need of some culture, then look no further for in Marbella History even the most avid culture vulture’s appetite will be satiated with what’s on offer.

Roman Villa in Marbella

If ancient history whets your cultural appetite then head down to Rio Verde, where the remains of a Roman Villa are situated close to the beach. Constructed in the late first or early second century, the rooms are decorated with an unusual series of black and white mosaics depicting not classical themes or intricate designs as in may other excavated Roman sites but everyday kitchen equipment. The mosaics are in great condition and even more stunning as they are in site. The shoes portrayed by the door are evidence of the Roman custom of leaving one’s footwear outside the triclinium or dining room and other mosaics include images of foul and fish ready to be dropped into the pot. One of the amphorae displayed is so accurately portrayed that it has helped to date the villa almost precisely.

Who owned the villa, of course nobody knows but speculation suggests that due to the kitchen themed mosaics he may have been a restaurateur catering to the nearby rich Roman residents of Puerto Banús.

Marbella old Town’s and church

The old town of Marbella is living history itself and is steeped in centuries of historical culture. The casco antiguo as it’s known in Spanish dates back to Moorish times and the 9th century walls which are still in evidence in parts were part of the stronghold which once surrounded the town. Architecture from different eras graces the quiet little lanes and in the Plaza de los Naranjos alone, a Renaissance fountain sits opposite the 16th century town hall and the 17th century Casa del Corregidor.

The main church is the Iglesia de la Encarnacíon which was built in the 16th century and was later re-done in Baroque style. The church houses an impressive organ named the Sol Mayor where organ recitals are performed regularly for aficionados of this timeless instrument. It is here that many of the town’s religious processions either begin or end.

In addition to this church, those interested in religion will revel in the smaller places of worship or hermitas and the many hornacinas scattered throughout the old town. These are niches built into walls and usually contain religious images or statues of the Virgin or Christ, candles and flowers. A particularly picturesque hornacina is the Rincón de la Virgen where the virgin is placed high in the wall with bright bougainvillea covering much of the narrow street.

San Pedro de Alcántara

San Pedro is the village next to Marbella where the ancient Greeks, Romans and the Moors first arrived to, on there way up in Spain to Ronda and Granada from Gibraltar. San Pedro’s beach and old town and is full with culture dates back to the 4th century.

Marbella Art, Museum and gallerie

If art is your thing, then Marbella won’t disappoint. The Museo del Grabado Contemporáneo, or Museum of Contemporary Spanish Prints is one of the foremost of its kind in Spain and houses works by Picasso, Dalí and Miró to name but a few. Housed in a 16th century hospital – Palacio Bazán on Calle Hospital Bazán, the building is almost as beautiful as the art it houses with big stone pillars and an ornate elevated ceiling.

For more art, there are literally hundreds of galleries around the town, especially around the old town. Bustamante, the surreal sculptor and jewellery designer, has a shop just off Orange Square and near the old castle walls; a working stained glass gallery is a wonderful place to get an insight into this beautiful if fading art form. Paintings, sculptures, photographs and objet d’art are exhibited and displayed all over the place, just wander and you’ll be sure to stumble across something to your taste.

Salvador Dali’s sculptures

If the Dalí prints were to your fancy at the Museum in the old town, then head on down town through the Alameda Park to the re-modelled Avenida del Mar which links the park with the Paseo Maritimo – Marbella’s promenade. Displayed along its length are copies of some of Salvador Dalí’s sculptures, cast in bronze and set amidst the marble and fountains of this pleasant walkway.

Beautiful Park’s in Marbella.

The Alameda Park itself is Marbella’s oldest, with magnificent examples of mature ficus and piacea trees along with some rarer species of plants. All are set amongst fountains and traditional tiled benches depicting scenes of days gone by scattered around to enjoy this tranquil haven in the centre of the town. The park is a firm favourite amongst visitors and residents alike and during the summer feria in June; the park comes alive with live music, dancing and bars to celebrate the town’s patron saint, San Barnabé.

A newer, but none the less beautiful, is the Parque de Constitución where lovingly tended lawns and flower beds compliment a central amphitheatre where outdoor performances take place during the summer months.

The latest addition to Marbella’s parks is the Arroyo de la Represa Park which was re-claimed from old, disused land and stretches from the circunvalacion (Marbella ring road) nearly as far as Ricardo Soriano. A modern bridge spans the park (Arroyo means valley) and the park itself is superbly landscaped with lakes, children’s playgrounds and sports facilities below it.

Museo de Bonsai, Japanese art of miniature trees

Also within the confines of the park is the Museo de Bonsai. This charming little oasis is devoted to the Japanese art of miniature trees and houses one of the largest collections in Europe. Around the building itself are lily ponds shaded by weeping willows, streams bridged by stepping stones where turtles bask in the sunshine and pretty, colourful Mediterranean flowers blooming throughout. The whole area is a calm and tranquil place to take a rest and just enjoy your surroundings.

Ballet, opera and modern dance in Marbella.

If your cultural urges require some live action, Marbella has a packed calendar of events. As mentioned, during the summer months, a myriad of performances are staged in the Parque de Constitucion and Marbella now has its own theatre.

Located on Plaza Ramón Martinez near the football stadium, plays, ballet, opera and modern dance performances are just some of the action you can catch with performers coming from all over the world. There is also a special children’s theatre to keep the little ones involved.

Marbella feria

For more live culture, you can’t beat the many fiestas and ferias which take place all year round. The yearly feria in June is superb with much traditional dancing and singing as well as the more religious aspects with processions and church services. Other local celebrations include the superb, if a little sombre, celebrations of Holy Week at Easter and the colourful Fiestas de la Virgen del Carmen where brightly decorated boats take to the sea to pay tribute to God for the safe return of the town’s fishermen.

So, don’t be fooled into thinking that Marbella is a cultural desert because whether you’re into Miró paintings or miniature trees, Roman mosaics or modern dance, traditional costume or candlelight ballet, Marbella is nothing short of a culture vulture’s paradise.

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