Whenever I feel like a complete contrast from the continuously changing, awe-inspiring seascapes I witness on my daily walks along Marbella Town’s beaches and beachfront promenade , I love to plunge into the ocean of greenery and oasis of tranquillity offered by its most lovingly maintained park; the so-named Parque de la Constitución.
To access from the promenade, you can either turn right at the lighthouse, cross over the road and turn left, where there is a side entrance right next to the park’s children’s playground – or via its main entrance just opposite the emblematic Skol building, an apart-hotel complex built in the early 60’s and one of the first to be built in Marbella Town.
Although the park as it stands today, was created relatively recently back in 1987, the reason there is such a proliferation of monumental trees, from giant palms, to ancient gnarled ficus trees and towering pines, is because it was built upon the site that had; for as far back in living memory of the local people I have spoken to (early 1940’s); been home to a government-owned forest nursery. Back then, there was no road as there is today and the forest nursery opened straight onto the beach.
The park also houses Marbella’s Conservatory of Music and Dance and an amphitheatre, where music concerts and plays were regularly staged during the summer months before the current economic crisis struck and which sadly, has been rarely used ever since.
Apart from strolling around the park, soaking up the natural environment throughout the changing seasons, accompanied by the peaceful cooing of the many pigeons that nest in the pines; particularly in the early mornings when the evaporating dew creates a fragrant plant and tree-scented walk along its paths; I like to stop off at the park café/snack bar located down the steps and to the right of the main entrance which has been run by the gentle Antonio and his wife Paqui for the past 27 years.
In the middle of last year, there was quite a local community furore, when there was a chance that the concession of the premises might be granted to someone new. This is one place where the locals are fiercely opposed to change.
Family-friendly, Antonio keeps a stock of tricycles and other toys to keep the little ones amused, although their favourite pastime by far, is either feeding or chasing the pigeons that gather around the fountain by the entrance. The terrace area is large enough to find a quiet table at the end furthest away from the fountain but if you prefer to avoid the sometimes rambunctious “children’s hours” altogether, the best time to come is in the morning after 10 right through until 4 pm when the schools break up, or in the early evening until closing time.
Decently priced and with a simple snack menu, when I do eat there, I always have Paqui’s chicken, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato toasted roll (pitufo de pollo completo) – the most succulent and tasty I have yet to find elsewhere in Marbella Town.
As with all public parks, Marbella Town’s Parque de la Constitución provides the perfect vantage point from which to observe normal local life going on about you. I asked Antonio if he had any anecdotes from all the time he has run the café and he just shrugged saying “life in the park moves at a more gentle pace than it does outside, the only thing that changes are the seasons. The adults who came here as children now bring their own children and grandchildren along, but apart from us all getting older, that’s it!”
I highly recommend that you take some time out to visit this timeless ocean of greenery just a step away from Marbella Town’s beachfront. A wonderful sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of town life outside the park’s perimeter at any time of year but especially during the summer, this is a great place to read a book, meet with friends or to simply contemplate and disconnect (although the café does have WiFi if you can’t!).
Park opening hours: winter: 08.00- 22.00 & until midnight in summer. Café/bar opens at 10.00 until the park closes.
(Text & photos by Liz Glazer)