Marbella Inside & Out

Discover the magic of Marbella from an "insider" point of view – by Liz Glazer


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Marbella reconquered!

Today, 11th June 2018, marks the last day of Marbella’s week long celebrations of the Feria de San Bernabé.  And while visitors will have enjoyed mingling with the locals as they party with gusto at the day and night-time celebrations, in a cacophonous clash of the traditional and modern, that sees elegant women in flamenco costumes jostling with tourists in their shorts and t-shirts, dancing to Sevillanas and bopping along to modern hits; few will be aware of its historical significance.

For it was 533 years ago today, on the 11th June 1485, that the keys to the fortified Moorish city of the then named Marbil-la, was handed over peacefully to the Spanish Catholic King Ferdinand, coinciding with the Catholic feast day of Saint Barnabas; Marbella’s patron saint ever-since.

With only ghostly traces remaining of Marbella’s Moorish past; reflected in the lay-out of the narrow-streets of the Old Town around which the newly reconquered Marbella developed and grew, along with the remains of the east-face of the fortress wall; it was wonderful to witness the historical re-enactment of the arrival of the Catholic King Ferdinand to reclaim Marbella, that took place yesterday morning.

I made my way to the Church square where costumed actors, some on horseback, gathered for the start of the event and I experienced the first of many “flash-back in time” moments, on looking up and spotting a robed guard patrolling on a parapet.

 

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I literally bumped into a very imposing bearded man in an ornate Arab costume.

“Who are you?” I asked.

Alcaide Mohammed Albuneza,”he boomed in character. “And I’m just about to meet King Ferdinand and hand over the keys to the city,” he added, with a note of regret in his voice.

Before the procession began, we were given a background explanation of the events to be re-enacted by the president of Marbella’s Fernando el Católico Cultural Association, who told us that the reconquering of Marbella was of vital importance in the subsequent fall of Malaga, due to its strategic position and sheltered harbour, essential for providing supplies for the Spanish Catholic troops to keep going.  Apparently, King Ferdinand had just taken the city of Ronda and exchanged a series of letters with the Moorish governor, Mohammed Albuneza to persuade him to hand over Marbella, who in turn, did his best to hold the King off, while he waited for back-up defence.   Seeing that Ferdinand’s troops were advancing upon Marbella regardless, after entering into negotiations for the safety of his people, he eventually capitulated, which culminated in the peaceful hand-over on the 11th June 1485.

And so, “King Ferdinand” mounted his horse and followed by a retinue of guards and musicians, made his triumphant entrance through the streets of the Old Town – ending at Orange Square, where to the cries of “Viva El Rey Fernando!” from an appreciative audience, he waved regally from the balcony of the Town Hall, much to the bemusement of the tourists sipping sangria at the restaurant tables that are dotted around the square.

 

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The whole experience was like momentarily living in a bifocal time warp, medieval snapshots photo-bombed by shop and traffic signs and summer-clad observers and passers-by – but bravo to the organisers and all the performers who put on a great show, to remind us all of the significance and origins of Marbella’s San Bernabé Feria celebrations.

“¡Viva el Rey Fernando! ¡Viva San Bernabé!”

Text & Photos: Liz Glazer

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Dawn Mass on the shores of Marbella Town – a ritual of simplicity and unity

Viva la Virgen del Carmen!

There’s something that transcends the purely religious when it comes to the beachside Dawn Mass that starts a day of festivities every 16th July in Marbella Town, honouring the  Virgen del Carmen, protector of fishermen and Marbella’s patron saint.

There’s absolutely none of the sense of formality you get within the confines of a church but one of a unified local community, gathering as one, barefoot around an altar in the sand.

Perhaps it’s the natural setting but you get a feeling of witnessing and participating in a more primal ritual – a ceremony of gratitude for the simple things in life, the blessings of good health, and the love of family and friends, departed and presently in our lives.    A homage of respect to the force of nature in the guise of the sea.  A celebration drenched with devotion for the Virgen del Carmen and her role of mother-protector but a devotion expressed as joy.

This is the feeling it transmits to me at least and the reason why out of all the festivities, I chose to join in the celebrations again this year. Here are some photos I took, as I embraced this enchanting early-morning ritual and felt equally embraced by the simplicity of spirit and the overwhelming sense of unity that pervades…


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A mooch around Coín’s “La Trocha” Sunday morning markets

by Liz Glazer

With cloudy skies and a chill in the air, the weather was perfect for my planned outing with a group of friends last weekend, to visit the inland town of Coin´s weekly  Sunday morning markets. Held in the grounds of  La Trocha Industrial Estate, there are three separate market areas: an outdoor farmer’s market, a small artisan produce and crafts market and the enormous covered flea market, held in the car park beneath the La Trocha shopping centre building.

Driving along the inland roads above Marbella to reach Coín,  there was a magical  moment when the landscape changed from winding mountain roads, to Coin’s vast valley landscapes of ploughed fields and open skies with the sierras etched out softly in the background, swathed in a light morning mist.  Winding down the car window, I sniffed in the delicious smell of damp rich earth. The Valley of Guadalhorce in which Coín lies, is renowned for its fertile agricultural land and is referred to locally as “La Despensa de Malaga” – Malaga’s pantry.

We got there just before 10 a.m, for the early pickings of fresh local-grown produce from the organic farmer’s market.  I read somewhere that Coín is one of the first “transition” towns in Andalucia that aim at creating a more sustainable local economy through initiatives such as this one – a platform for small-scale farmers to sell their produce to local consumers.  What a great idea-  and it’s certainly going down well, judging from the people that streamed around the stalls while we were there, despite the relatively early hour. Continue reading


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Marbella Walkabouts – an early Sunday morning stroll around Marbella’s historic Old Town quarter and Parque de la Represa.

1Happy 2017! Made all the happier for me, by Chewa, the four-legged companion I´ve had the pleasure to dog-sit for the past couple of weeks since I got back from the UK. Having a dog to take out, inspired me to revisit some of my favourite walks around Marbella Town, as a change of scene from the fabulous beachfront promenade seascapes I witness every day from my doorstep.

Avenida Ricardo Soriano, MarbellaAccess to Marbella Old Town via Huerta Chica streetWaking up to a fresh sunny Sunday, I decided to take an alternative route up through Marbella’s Old Town – with no particular sense of purpose other than to absorb the quiet that pervades before everyone starts stirring just before midday, after a long lie-in. Continue reading


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Following the traditional celebrations of the Festival of the Virgen del Carmen in Marbella Town– 16th July 2016

Queen of the Seas Marbella Virgen del Carmen 2016

As a personal tribute to Marbella Town´s fishing community, some of whom I´ve gradually got to know over the past year since writing my first blog post about the fishing port, I decided to join in the various ceremonies and processions that are held throughout the day of the 16th July,  honouring the Virgen del Carmen, Marbella´s beloved patron saint and protector of all sailors and fishermen…. Continue reading