Roman, Arabic and Christian remains come together in the Old Quarter of the town. Its narrow streets are living proof of the survival of centuries of magnificently preserved history, surprising the visitor who explores its nooks and crannies so full of tradition and charm.
The Arabic wall, museums, squares, chapels and the popular Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation) are testament to a rich and attractive cultural array, complemented with restaurants, typical shops and an unmistakably Andalucian atmosphere.
In the heart of the old quarter we find La Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Square) (end of XV c.), which constitutes one of the first Christian designs after the Reconquest. The square was built following the tradition of Castilian towns, although in this case without colonnades. In it is the old Chief Magistrate’s House, the Town Hall and the Santiago Hermitage.
The Arabs organised a complex system of vigilance and communication, both on the coast and inland; after the reconquest, the Christians extended and perfected the system due to the danger of pirate attacks.
In the town of Marbella six of the eight watchtowers which made up the coastal vigilance service are still preserved: Torre Ladrones, Torreón del Lance de las Cañas, Torre del Río Real, Torre del Ancón, Torre del Duque, Torre de las Bóvedas, Fortaleza de Cerro Torrón.
In the area of the Artola Dunes is the Torre Ladrones (Thieves Tower), element of military and defensive architecture declared to be an item of Cultural Heritage. Its origin appears to date back to the Roman era, being subsequently rebuilt by Arabs and Christians.
In the last century, the Torre de la Mar (Tower of the Sea) which was located in the Marbella marina and which served as a base for the bestowing of the coat of arms of the town by the Catholic Monarchs, disappeared. The other tower to disappear, in the fifties, was the Torre del Real Zaragoza which was located close to the current Golden Beach complex.