THE first seeds were sown back in 2012, when Estepona Mayor Jose Maria Garcia Urbano and his fellow councillors drew up the design for a green walking city dedicated to culture and art.

The mural trail was born that year, an ongoing project that is transforming dowdy tower blocks with eye-catching frescos depicting local scenes.

The intention was to shine light on the town’s forgotten neighbourhoods and attract more foreign tourists.

Ambling through the sinewy flower-laden streets of the old town, it’s clear to see how these efforts have borne fruit, and how welldeserved is Estepona’s nickname.

Marielle Maulenberg, an MA student and English teacher, has watched the whole town blossom. “I’m really impressed with how they’ve done it up.”

“Before, it was much quieter but the mural trail and street renovations have really transformed it,” she tells me appreciatively.

Estepona’s flower pot-strewn pedestrianised streets and squares are some of the prettiest on the Costa del Sol.

Its scented town centre is one of the reasons Michael Ventress, a retired bank worker from Basingstoke, chose it as his holiday destination.

Michael, along with countless other tourists, come to admire the photogenic centre and wander around in search of the murals.

Because not only do they beautify the town, they provide handy landmarks to help navigate the streets.

Head in any direction and your walk will take you on a floral trail graced with sculptures by local artists and poetic verses penned by Spanish bards showcased on ceramic plaques.

Potted plants hang off whitewashed walls, scattering a confetti of crimson, lilac and magenta petals.

You can see rarer plants at the Orchidarium, an indoor perfumed garden where 1,300 varieties are joined by the notorious Amorphophallus Titanum or ‘corpse flower’, named for its foul odour.

Visitors have not yet had the dubious pleasure of taking a sniff as it hasn’t yet breached the soil’s surface.

When it does, it could potentially grow up to three metres high. Then there are the floral plazas, typified by Plaza de las Flores which lives up to its name, where you can get trail guides from the tourist office and study them at one of the pavement cafes.

Others you’ll happen upon while meandering through the streets, like Plaza de Begines which has a stage set up.

Local resident Manuela Reinoso, 50, tells me it’s for the May Day celebrations. Let curiosity be your guide to discover these hidden treasures for yourself and you’ll understand without doubt why no other town can hold a petal to Estepona’s Garden of the Costa del Sol.

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