No, on this occasion we’re not talking about tennis or golf, though there are many opportunities to enjoy that too in Marbella. Long before there were golf and tennis championships, however, Spain already had its masters – in this case, some of the finest painters the world has ever seen.
Think of names such as Murillo, Velázquez, El Greco, Goya and later also Picasso and Dalí. The latter may be the most famous of Spanish artists, but they came from a long tradition that stretches all the way back to the Middle Ages, making this one of the richest homes of art and culture.
The early works by Francisco de Zurburán, Murillo, El Greco and Velázquez produced evocative pieces tinged with religious fervour, mysticism and references to the classics, while Goya’s work is divided into colourful and darker periods, and Joaquín Sorolla delighted with the tenderness of his subjects and the way he lovingly portrayed them.
Later came such icons as Miró, Picasso and Dalí, whose works connected with a whole new generation of art lovers across the world. Today, Pablo Picasso is perhaps the highest-grossing painter in the world’s history, and quite apart from leading Madrid museums such as the Prado and the Thyssen Bornemisza, you can admire their mastery much closer to home as well.
The city of Málaga, less than an hour east of Marbella, has become one of Europe’s leading cultural lights, with fantastic art to be admired at the Picasso Museum, the Thyssen, the CAC (Centro de Arte Contemporáneo) and the Centre Pompidou. But also visit the art museums in cities such as Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Granada, Córdoba and of course Seville – not forgetting Marbella, where the Ralli Museum offers wonderful exhibitions of Latin American, Spanish and international art, including priceless works by Dalí and Miró.
So, apart from being a beautiful natural region with a seductive culture and the kind of climate that makes outdoor living possible, the Costa del Sol is also a perfect base from which to explore Andalucía and its rich art traditions.