Elviria, Marbella – an oasis of flora and fauna
“A marvellous position on the Mediterranean,
every building has unspoilt contact with the sea.”
Jørn Utzon – Elviria architect, 1960
Poised at the foot of UNESCO’s protected Sierra de las Nieves mountain range, midway between Málaga and Puerto Banús, Elviria’s laid-back village feel, natural vegetation and long sandy beaches offer year-round sanctuary to birds of a feathered and two-legged variety.
Literally meaning ‘Truth’, Elviria owes its name to Elvira Taillefer, treasured wife of urban designer Salvador Guerrero – applauded alongside Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe, Ricardo Soriano and José Banús for converting the Costa del Sol into today’s cult tourist destination.
In 1960, as proprietor of 3,200 acres of forest in Marbella’s Las Chapas district, Guerrero presented his grand idea for the coast’s first residential development. Working with Danish architect Jørn Utzon (winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honour), their town plan details Guerrero’s vision for the land with its “marvellous position on the Mediterranean, its sea view the dominating motif where every building has unspoilt contact with the sea, no matter how far from the beach. Special qualities of the terrain reveal points in this grand country that stand out. This point has been selected for our commercial centre, hotels, restaurants, etc.”
Naming the urbanisation after Elvira, Salvador’s acorn of an idea grew to become headquarters for the Costa del Sol tourism studies centre (ECOS), soon followed by an ECOS school, a German school and Marbella’s first fire station. Salvador received Marbella’s Municipal Gold Award in 1961 – the first developer to promote the Costa del Sol as Europe’s finest place to live.
The couple attended the inauguration of Salvador Guerrero Avenue in 2009, a one-kilometre link road to the Elviria Park development named in Elvira’s honour. Following his death in 2011, Marbella mayor Ángeles Muñoz announced infrastructure upgrades in Elviria and Salvador Guerrero Avenue as part of the €2 million Neighbourhood Plan 2013, responding to “lots of demand from residents and visitors who daily access the two malls in Elviria and use the taxi rank.”
Surrounded by attractive apartments and villas, the popular Commercial Centre houses banks, boutiques, bars, restaurants, convenience stores and a supermarket, while sports and leisure activities count among its attributes with immaculately manicured lawns at Santa María Golf & Country Club, Greenlife Golf and El Soto Golf in the hills nearby.
Luxury beach clubs at Nikki Beach and The Beach House are within easy reach, frequented by high-calibre celebrities and global personalities. For kids, a massive Coca-Cola can signposts the entrance to Funny Beach karting and jet-ski centre, while adults can escape to Blue Flag Artola-Cabopino Beach with its marina and protected natural sand dunes for a spot of nudist sunbathing.
Campaigning to protect Elviria’s natural environment and the habitat of its wildlife – including 78 bird species; the Mediterranean Rabbit, a key prey; and the Iberian Peninsula’s smallest Roe Deer – BirdLife International, the Spanish Ornithology Society and Ecologists in Action called on authorities to “guarantee the highest environmental value to the ‘Alcornocales de Elviria’ cork-tree forest and its plant and animal communities, for its educational, cultural, scientific or leisure characteristics, with or without a profit motive.”
Edited version to be published in Russian this month, Ideal Home Magazine, idealhomespain.ru
Image: Elviria beach by casademare.de
Image: Birds of Marbella – Warbler by Juan Caracuel