PUERTO BANUS, MARBELLA. An unique place in the world

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PUERTO BANUS, MARBELLA. An unique place in the world

Reading time: 5

Puerto Jose Banus, better known as Puerto Banus, is a luxury marina and tourist destination that has become, since it was opened in May 1970, one of the largest entertainment centers in the Costa del Sol, reaching fame and international prestige.

The best-known firms in the world are set up in this fashionable destination.

Some historians believe that Marbella was inhabited as early as the 7th century BC, while Roman settlers are thought to have been in what is now Marbella Old Town and certain remains testify to that fact, including 3 Ionic capitals embedded in the Moorish castle walls. Called Salduba, the Salt City in Roman times, there are other Roman ruins dotted around Marbella including Roman baths at Guadalmina, the ruins of a Roman villa and a Roman bridge in Marbella.
It’s thought the name is derived from what the Arabs called it, Marbal La, during the Islamic rule. At this time in the 10th century, the Moors built many lighthouse towers along the coast which are still standing today, as well as a citadel, an alcazaba, and a wall to protect the town.
Around the late 15th, early 16th century, the city was given the title of capital of the region and Plaza de los Naranjos, as well as other builings in Marbella old town, were built.

Iron ore was discovered in Ojen near Marbella in the early 19th century and blast furnaces were constructed which ultimately produced over 75% of the country’s cast iron, creating many jobs in the area. However, the dismantling of the steel industry some years later meant much of the population of Marbella had to return to farming or fishing for their livelihood. A widespread crisis of agriculture and an epidemic of pests in the vineyards meant that there was an increase in poverty and unemployment and by the end of the 19th century; the general population was split into working class and oligarchs, with almost no middle class.

The 20th century saw the building of the first hotels and Marbella experienced many social changes brought upon by political parties.

During the Spanish civil war, Marbella suffered greatly with many buildings burning to the ground; seized by Nationalists it became a haven for personalities including Jose Antonio Giron de Velasco and Jose Banús, personal friends of dictator Francisco Franco. After WWII, Marbella was a small village with just 900 inhabitants but the Marquis of Ivanrey, Ricardo Soriano, and his nephew Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg acquired two estates in the area, one of which became the infamous Marbella Club Hotel in 1954, frequented by international movie stars and members of European aristocratic families.

Puerto Banus was built in 1970 and the lavish opening of the resort was attended by many famous names including Hugh Hefner, director Roman Polanski, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

What many people don’t realise is that Puerto Banús is still a relatively young resort and has only existed since 1970, when it was built by local property developer José Banús. As a smart businessman, Banús was initially attracted to the area after buying a large estate designed for breeding bullfighting cattle, which was located in the area now known as Nueva Andalucía.

Significantly, it was also around this time that neighbouring Marbella experienced a spectacular boom as a popular tourist destination. The town was first discovered in the second half of the 1940s by some circles of the European elite and royalty, who in turn attracted the stars of the day, who began to flock to the coastal resort.

José Banús saw an opportunity a few decades later and developed the idea of providing Marbella’s international set with an exclusive marina where they could shy away from the prying eyes of the press.

The wheels were set in motion in 1966 when Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe introduced Banús to two architects: Noldi Schreck and Marcos Sainz, who had previously been hired to design the Marbella Club Hotel. José Banús shared his idea with them and from these initial meetings the first blueprint of what would later become Puerto Banús began to emerge.

The architect was Noldi Schreck, who participated in the design and construction of Beverly Hills.

Its geographical location and the visit of numerous popular celebrities make it an attractive summer destination but also the rest of the year, since Marbella is known for its warm climate during the twelve months.
The climate of the area has contributed to its ascent among the most exclusive places in the world.

Under the influence of Schreck and Sainz, Banús moved away from his original designs of spectacular skyscrapers in favour of a more traditional Mediterranean architectural style. Schreck and Sainz travelled around the region for inspiration, making notes of typical local architecture that could be incorporated into a more modern design.

What they eventually came up with was a glamorous marina that still had the quaint feel of an Andalusian fishing village. José Banús approved of their designs and the port facilities, and the apartments and service areas were officially opened in May 1970. The lavish launch ceremony was attended by a host of celebrities including film director Roman Polanski, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

A young Julio Iglesias was also hired to sing for the 1,700 guests.

Puerto Banús quickly became a favoured vacation destination for the jet-set, which worked hand in hand with the businesses that were soon vying to set up there. Due to the success of the project, José Banús went on to become the largest developer of residential tourism complexes on the Costa del Sol.

The beautiful port, which still carries his name, was transformed from just two roads and a marina into a millionaire’s playground. To this day its growth has proved unstoppable and the port now houses some 900 boats, including a number of luxury super yachts belonging to the world’s wealthiest people.

International prestige

The Milla de Oro

The Milla de Oro (The Golden Mile) is the luxury neighbourhood of Marbella par excellence. Located in the west part of the city, it connects Marbella with the marina of Puerto Banús.

Since it reached the fame in the 50s, when the exclusive 5-star Marbella Club hotel was built thanks to Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, it has been growing thanks to the wealthy families and famous celebrities, who have been making their summer holiday accommodations in the area. Among them, it’s worth mentioning the Saudi Arabian Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, whose astonishing villa reminds of the White House.

The perfect place for a villa by ARK Architects, Marbella

Some content was originally published in December 2012, updated by Adam Neale in September 2018

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