The oldest remains found in the area of Las Chapas and in the Cave del Pecho date from the Paleolithic and Neolithic. There is also evidence of small colonies of the Phoenicians, but what is clear is the settlement of the Romans, confirmed by the existing remains of the Villa Romana de Rio Verde (first century), Las Termas de Guadalmina, known as The Vaults (century II or III), and the remains of Ionic capitals and the stones of the wall, in the Old City, and the remains of the Paleo-Christian basilica of Vega del Mar (fourth century).
In the Islamic era the Muslims built a fortress and later a castle (tenth century), and beacon towers to protect the city, which was formed by narrow streets and small buildings. Marbella's old town still maintains its route of that time. The Arabs called the city Marbil-la, which may be the origin of the current name. The city was held by the different Taifa kingdoms to be conquered by King Ferdinand in June 1485. The main economic activities from the Muslims until the nineteenth century, was based on livestock, agriculture and the products of their orchards surrounding the city, the best known were figs, mulberry trees for silkworm production, and sweet wine of Marbella, already famous in the thirteenth century.
In the nineteenth century industrialization came to the area, with the installation of the first blast furnaces in Spain, for melting iron from the mines of Sierra Blanca, becoming the province of Malaga the second in the country, to industrial level. Since the second decade of the century XX it began to develop an economy based on tourism and construction of medium and high purchasing power, making it one of the most important tourist centers of the world.