One of Marbella’s hidden treasures that highlights the antiquity of settlement in the area is the Paleo-Christian Basilica of Vega del Mar. This basilica, whose construction dates back to the 5th century AD, is one of the best preserved examples of archaeological sites of early Christianity on the Iberian Peninsula.
The Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar is made up of a basilica building with a double apse and a necropolis annexed to it. Inside, we can highlight the presence of several baptismal fonts in which baptisms were performed by immersion, which was the way in which baptisms were performed in the first centuries of Christianity.
A 1,500 year old archaeological site
This archaeological site, which is more than 1,500 years old, is a quadrangular building with a northwest-southeast orientation. The temple has a central or main body divided into three different naves that are separated by pillars. The most interesting feature is the existence of two opposing apses.
The function of both would be that of the altar and martirium, a very interesting feature of the Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar because there are very few with this feature in the Iberian Peninsula. Attached to the westernmost apse you will find the baptistery, which includes the baptismal fonts. Among them there is one that stands out above the rest thanks to its combination of a Greek cross and the fish shape characteristic of the early Christians.
The archaeological site also contains an extensive burial necropolis in which, following various excavations, a total of 200 different burials have been found. In the latest work carried out in the area, it has been possible to demonstrate that the chronological arc in which the necropolis was used was between the 3rd and 7th centuries AD, which shows that it was a place used for centuries by the Christians in the area.
Where is the Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar located?
The Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar is located in the town of San Pedro de Alcántara, in the municipality of Marbella. Specifically, in a wide coastal strip known as the Vega de San Pedro Alcántara.
The Antonine Itinerary of the 3rd century AD already mentions two towns in the area, Cilniana and Salduba, which may have had some kind of relationship with this site, so it is not surprising that it was their inhabitants who built it and used it as a necropolis.
How to visit the Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar?
You can visit the Paleochristian Basilica of Vega del Mar whenever you wish, as entry is free and without prior appointment. If you would like a guided tour, these take place on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 11:15 and 14:00. You can always ask for more information at the Marbella Town Hall’s Culture and Youth Department.