Plaza del Santo Cristo, 1959 and 2019. A picture of the square which nowadays is very popular with tourists. / TICO MARTÍN

A photographic journey through Marbella past and present

Photographer Tico Martín fuses old images of Marbella with modern ones to show how the town has changed over the years


Walking through the centre of Marbella you can catch glimpses of what the town was like in times gone by. But, as time passes, memories of how life used to be, even just a few decades ago, fade away. Now though, the town's past and present can be explored side-by-side through the work of Escolástico Martín Jiménez, better known as Tico Martín, in his exhibition at the Hospital Real de la Misericordia until 22 May.

The retired banker is a member of Fórum Fotográfico, the association that is organising the exhibition. Tico is already known in the town for his photographic 'fusion', and on display are 40 of the almost one hundred works he has produced using this technique.

"It's about fusing the past and the present of a particular place in one photograph," he explained.

In the exhibition there are several prints from the 1950s, and others from the beginning of the twentieth century, such as one showing the transformation of Calle Enrique del Castillo, where the well-known Gómez y Molina jewellery shop is located today.

"Here there was some sort of bar, which in the 1940s turned into a social kitchen for children," he said.

The images also show how some other places have remained practically the same, such as the "ice factory" which, as Tico points out, "is still the same, as you can see from the 1959 photo taken by a German journalist who visited the town a couple of times, and who left us with traces of the Marbella of the 50s with images of charismatic places."

Tico has a collection of photos of the town from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. "I choose photos if I think it's possible to take one from the same perspective now," he said. "Then it's easy. I put one photo over the other, leaving a glimpse of the modern part so that you can see the changes the town is undergoing."

"The challenge is taking the photo from the same perspective. To do that, I print the old photo out on paper and I look at the street through my camera. It's difficult to know what lens was used to take the old one, but it's usually a 50 millimetre or a 25. I use a 24-70, and have adapted as much as possible so that the two photos align."

One of the areas that has changed most drastically is Puente Málaga and Avenida Nabeu, where there used to be a fountain, as seen in the photo from the 1950s. It was removed in the 1960s, and no trace remains of it today.

Old fashioned clothes, horses and wagons passing through the town centre, the evolution of businesses that started off as small shacks and old cobbled streets feature in the exhibition. Some people who have always lived in Marbella may even recognise some of the faces on display in this journey into the past.