A photographic journey through Marbella’s past and present

Plaza del Santo Cristo, 1959 and 2019. A photo of the square which today is very popular with tourists. / TICO MARTIN

Photographer Tico Martín merges old images of Marbella with modern images to show how the city has changed over the years

Walking through the center of Marbella you can get a glimpse of what the city was like in the past. But, over time, the memories of life in the past, even just a few decades ago, fade. Today, the city’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 May 22.

The retired banker is a member of the Fórum Fotográfico, the association that organizes the exhibition. Tico is already known in the city for his photographic ‘fusion’, and on display are 40 of the nearly 100 works he produced using this technique.

“It’s about merging the past and present of a particular place into a single photograph,” he explained.

The exhibition presents several prints from the 1950s and others from the beginning of the 20th century, such as the one showing the transformation of Enrique del Castillo street, where the famous Gómez y Molina jewelry store is located today.

“Here, there was a kind 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 virtually the same, such as the ‘ice factory’ which, as Tico points out, ‘is still the same, as you can see in the 1959 photo taken by a German journalist who visited the city a few times, and which left us traces of the Marbella of the 50s with images of charismatic places.”

Tico has a collection of photos of the city from the end of the 19th century to the present day. “I choose photos if I think it’s possible to take one from the same point of view now,” he said. “Then it’s easy. I put one photo over the other, showing off the modern part so you can see the changes the city is going through.”

“The challenge is to take the photo from the same point of view. To do this, I print the old photo on paper and look at the street through my camera. It is difficult to know which lens was used to take the old one, but it’s usually a 50mm or a 25. I use a 24-70, and I’ve adapted as much as possible so that the two shots line up.”

One of the areas that has changed the most drastically is Puente Málaga and Avenida Nabeu, where a fountain once stood, as seen in the photo from the 1950s. It was removed in the 1960s, and there is none no trace remains today.

Clothes of yesteryear, horses and carts passing through the town centre, changes in shops that were originally small huts and old cobbled streets are on the agenda. Some people who have always lived in Marbella might even recognize some of the faces on display in this trip down memory lane.

Michael E. Marquez