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The Roman mosaics at the Río Verde villa in Marbella. Josele
Fifteen museums and visitor centres by the sea to enjoy on the Costa del Sol
Travel

Fifteen museums and visitor centres by the sea to enjoy on the Costa del Sol

For those missing a little culture to mix with a day of sunbathing on the beach, here are a few suggestions just a stone’s throw from the sand

Javier Almellones

Malaga

Friday, 22 December 2023, 17:57

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Not everyone dreams of escaping to a museum of archaeological remains or art gallery while lying on the beach on the Costa del Sol, but for those who do, there are plenty to meet their demand. From Nerja to Manilva, there are numerous possibilities for those wanting to round off a day sunbathing with a cultural visit just a stone’s throw from the beach. Valuable collections of art and archaeological remains make up the main part of this seaside cultural tour covering the Costa del Sol from east to west. Here are the main options for adding a cultural touch to a day at the beach.

1. Nerja

Nerja Museum

A stone’s throw from Nerja’s famous Balcón de Europa (Balcony of Europe) viewpoint and five minutes from Caletilla beach, you can visit this important historical collection. The star of the show is ‘Pepita’, considered to be the best preserved complete skeleton from the Epipalaeolithic period in Europe, making her the most iconic piece in the Nerja Museum (Museode Nerja). Thanks to technology, today she even has a visible face and you can interact with her recreation. This museum, which is linked to the Nerja Cave, takes you on a journey through the history of Nerja, from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Its regular year-round opening hours are from 10am to 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday, except for July and August when they are extended to 10am to 5pm from Monday to Sunday.

‘Pepita’ is the most iconic piece in the Nerja Museum.
‘Pepita’ is the most iconic piece in the Nerja Museum. SUR

2. Torrox Costa

Lighthouse visitor centre

The seaside promenade in Torrox Costa has a special attraction; you can go back to Roman times in the cemetery and the baths found next to the well-known lighthouse, the Faro de Torrox. The complex has been identified as the ancient Caviclum, a settlement of great importance due to its strategic role in the distribution of agricultural and fishing products. The villa, which was inhabited between the 1st and 4th centuries, includes a salting factory and ceramic ovens, as well as a cemetery and thermal baths. Today this space is open as a visitor centre. The year-round opening hours are from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm, with extra visits from 7pm to 10pm in the summer.

Roman remains of Caviclum, next to the Torrox lighthouse.
Roman remains of Caviclum, next to the Torrox lighthouse. SUR

3. Torre de Benagalbón

Villa Antiopa

One hundred metres from the beach of Torre de Benagalbón in Rincón de la Victoria you can visit one of the most spectacular Roman villas in the whole country. Since December 2022 Villa Antiopa, located in the centre of Torre de Benagalbón, has been offering an interesting and didactic tour not only about the Roman period but also about the Phoenician period. A good part of what can be seen is a Roman villa from the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th century. There you can smell the ‘garum’, the famous sauce made by the Romans from fish entrails, making this place a unique and ideal complement to a day by the sea.

Villa Antiopa Torre de Benagalbón.
Villa Antiopa Torre de Benagalbón. SUR

4. Rincón de la Victoria

Casa Fuerte Bezmiliana

At the time positioned right on the seafront for coastal surveillance, the fortress built in the 18th century is known today as the Casa Fuerte de Bezmiliana. This walled enclosure, forming a quadrangle, has two sentry boxes, from where the coastline was surveyed to prevent possible pirate attacks. This building is currently used as an exhibition hall. Beachgoers in Rincón de la Victoria have a double experience at hand, as in summer there is usually an exhibition. The building is located just a stone’s throw from the promenade, on the other side of the main road, the Avenida del Mediterráneo.

Casa Fuerte de Bezmiliana.
Casa Fuerte de Bezmiliana. Ayuntamiento Rincón

5. Malaga

Prehistoric Park of La Araña

Prehistoric remains can be found in various caves and shelters along the steepest and easternmost coastline of the city of Malaga. This is a karstic area where several excavations have unearthed artefacts from the Neanderthal to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. Due to its scientific value, it is planned that this area will become an archaeological park. Specifically, it will have seven archaeological sites and a visitor centre. Of all its caves, the most important is the Cueva del Humo (Smoke Cave). Guided tours of the area are now available by prior reservation. Children’s camps are also organised in the summer to introduce the youngest visitors to archaeology and history.

Shelter 6 of the La Araña site.
Shelter 6 of the La Araña site. Complejo Humo

6. Malaga

Pompidou centre

Three hundred metres from La Malagueta beach, you can visit this prestigious contemporary art space, which is a branch of the Georges Pompidou National Centre for Art and Culture of France. In this case, it is located in the space called El Cubo in the area of the Port of Malaga known as Muelle Uno.

There are normally two or three temporary exhibitions by prestigious artists as well as the main semi-permanent collection, which is in the process of being renewed. The Pompidou is open between 9.30am and 8pm every day except Tuesday).

The Pompidou Centre’s iconic cube.
The Pompidou Centre’s iconic cube. SUR

7. Malaga

Automobile Museum and Russian Collection

There are two important museum spaces in what was, until a few decades ago, the famous Tabacalera (cigarette factory). The magnificent building is just a few metres from the Antonio Banderas promenade, on the western side of the Malaga city coastline. The oldest exhibition space is the Automobile and Fashion Museum (Museo Automovilístico y de la Moda), a valuable collection of old cars paired with period fashion. The museum is normally open from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 2.30pm and from 4pm to 7pm. Just a few metres from here, through another entrance to the same building visitors can view the collection from the Russian Museum (Museo Ruso), where there are usually interesting temporary exhibitions of Russian art.

The Automobile and Fashion Museum in Malaga pairs classic cars with vintage outfits.
The Automobile and Fashion Museum in Malaga pairs classic cars with vintage outfits. Ayuntamiento Málaga

8. La Cala de Mijas

Torreón de la Cala de Mijas

In the centre of La Cala de Mijas, just a few metres from the beach, you can see and visit the old watchtower known as the Torreón, which is currently a visitor centre dedicated to both the building and to the sea in general. The tower, which is open to the public at weekends and on public holidays, has three themed rooms inside.

The first is dedicated to the watchtowers of both the Mijas coastline and other parts of the coast of Malaga. The second room pays homage to the figure of General Torrijos, who disembarked on the nearby Charcón beach to defend the constitutional order in 1831. The last area is a tribute to the fishing past of this coastal town of Mijas, with boats and other items on display. It is usually open at weekends.

The Torreón in La Cala de Mijas houses a museum.
The Torreón in La Cala de Mijas houses a museum. SUR

9. Marbella

Ralli Museum

Contemporary art lovers can’t miss a visit just a hundred metres from the Río Verde beach in Marbella. This is a valuable collection of Latin American art. It has ten exhibition rooms, where you can see the different avant-garde movements that took place in Latin America and Europe. Opened in the year 2000, it is still free of charge, as it fulfils the objective of all the Ralli Museums in the world.

Ralli Museum, Marbella, a show of Latin American art.
Ralli Museum, Marbella, a show of Latin American art. Diputación Málaga

10. Marbella

Río Verde Roman Villa

Marbella is also home to the valuable Roman Villa of Río Verde, located on the beachfront. It is a 2nd-century construction, which conserves a good part of its structure, such as an interior courtyard and a mosaic in which the image of Medusa can be seen. Unfortunately, it was vandalised and a replica of the head had to be made, which is what is on view today.

This archaeological site can be visited on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 10.30am and 1.30pm from Friday to Sunday mornings (also on public holidays); for groups of more than 10 contact Delegación de Cultura Marbella: 952 76 87 10/11 or E-mail: patrimoniohistorico@marbella.es

11. Marbella

Roman Baths of Las Bóvedas

Among the Roman remains in Marbella, some of the best preserved are those that can be seen at the Roman baths of River Guadalmina, better known as Las Bóvedas. This site is located in an area near the entrance arch of San Pedro Alcántara (towards the beach).

It is a Roman bath from the first centuries of the empire (between the 2nd and 3rd centuries), as evidenced by the remains of marble slabs. These remains were discovered in 1961 and subsequently declared a historic-artistic monument for their protection. Remains of clay pipes have been found there, which could have been used for conducting water or hot air. Like the Roman Villa of Río Verde, it can be visited from Friday to Sunday or contact Marbella Town Hall.

Roman Baths of Las Bóvedas.
Roman Baths of Las Bóvedas. Ayuntamiento de Marbella

12. Marbella

Paleochristian Basilica Vega del Mar

Also very close to the beach of San Pedro Alcántara, you can visit a very important monument that probably dates back to the 6th century. It is one of the oldest examples of a Christian church on the Iberian Peninsula.

Visitors to this basilica will be struck by three main things: the structure of the church itself, which can be perfectly traced in the visible remains, the surprising baptismal font in the church, and a group of tombs scattered around it.

It can be visited from Friday to Sunday mornings, 9am to 11am or contact Centro Cultural Rosa Verde: 952 76 87 67 o E-mail: culturayjuventudsanpedro@marbella.es

Paleochristian Basilica Vega del Mar.
Paleochristian Basilica Vega del Mar. Ayuntamiento de Marbella

13. Estepona

Archaeological Museum

In Plaza de Blas Infante, just three hundred metres in a straight line from the sea, you can visit one of the best archaeological museums on the western Costa del Sol. A female statuette known as the Venus of Estepona, five millennia old, is the star exhibit. The building is located in the Casa del Aljibe, a building constructed in the 18th century on the site of a water tank that belonged to a tower from the Muslim period. Through four different rooms, you can take a journey from the first settlers to the al-Andalus period.

Estepona Archaeological Museum.
Estepona Archaeological Museum. SUR

14. Estepona

Mirador del Carmen

Right next to La Rada beach, you can visit this spectacular cultural centre overlooking the Mediterranean, which is equipped with a library, a music school, a function room, an exhibition hall and a lookout tower from which you can enjoy the best panoramic views of Estepona and its coastline.

Mirador del Carmen, Estepona.
Mirador del Carmen, Estepona. SUR

15. Manilva

Castillo de La Duquesa archaeology museum

The castle of La Duquesa was built during the reign of Carlos III in the 18th century. Also known as the Fortín de Sabinillas due to its location next to this district of Manilva, this fortress was strategically located next to the coast for surveillance purposes. It has been very well preserved, thanks to the fact that it has been put to various uses, such as carabinieri (Italian gendarmerie) barracks, town hall headquarters or even housing. It currently houses the Municipal Archaeology Museum, which makes it doubly attractive to visit.

The archaeology museum in Castillo de La Duquesa.
The archaeology museum in Castillo de La Duquesa. Turismo Manilva

Other museums and visitor centres of interest near the beach on the western Costa del Sol are the Palaeontological and the Ethnographic museums and the Casa de Tejerina-Museo de Arte de la Diputación, in Estepona.

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