16th December 2011 is an important day for Marbella and San Pedro. As the mayor of San Pedro Alcántara Miguel Troyano commented on the day, the archaeological treasure of the Basilica “Vega del Mar” was reborn after seventeen centuries of lethargic sleep, when the rehabilitation works of the basilica and its surroundings were finished after four months of hard work.

The Basilica Vega del Mar is an important heritage site, as it is one of the oldest examples of Christian churches on the Iberian Peninsula. In the 5th century AD, the Roman power over Iberia was starting to decline, and during the period between 552 and 615 AD, the area occupied by our contemporary Marbella and most of the Hispanic-Mediterranean coast was under the dominion of Byzantine Christendom.

Nowadays, the visitor can observe the Basilica Vega del Mar from the footbridge and platforms that have recently been installed in the premises. From the central platform the visitor can admire the structure of the archaeological site (basilica ruins and graveyard). Archaeologists have dated the 200 graves between the 3rd and the 8th century AD, which means that these were dug out before, during and after the basilica was constructed and fully operational. The structure of the basilica is rectangular and it is divided in three naves: a central nave and two lateral naves.

The value of the ruins resides in the two apses constructed on both sides of the central nave, and the exquisite baptistery, which is finally protected by an avant-garde glass cover.

This unique baptistery used in conversion ceremonies into the Christian faith was designed for complete body submersions. Thus, the baptistery is almost 2 meters deep and has the shape of a fish (symbol of early Christians) and of a cross (symbol of contemporary Christians). The baptistery has: three entry steps, the base and three exit steps, which adds seven, the golden number.

The restoration works of this unique Spanish basilica has been possible thanks to the efforts of the Ayuntamiento de Marbella (Marbella City Council), and especially thanks to Mrs Carmen Díaz, Culture Delegate, who proudly wears the silver pendant of the Basilica “Vega del Mar” (see picture). It is also worth mentioning the persistency and efforts of Javier Olano from the Association Vega del Mar, who has been essential for the success of this enterprise. Javier has strived for the recognition of this heritage site for years and was the head behind the night illumination of the site.

The last autumn Saturday of 2011 will always be remembered, because the Diario Sur, the most important newspaper in the province of Málaga, dedicated its first page to a cultural event in San Pedro Alcántara: the opening of the heritage site of the Basilica “Vega del Mar”.

For Somos Marbella, the Basilica “Vega del Mar” symbolises the change in the society that the old Christians divulged, the opening to new values, a type of Glasnost. The basilica symbolises the solidarity of those old Christians that shared the communion bread and lived in community. We think that the logo of the baptistery pile should become the symbol of a Marbella that is more fair and generous, not only a Marbella of luxury and consume, but a city that is more sustainable and less selfish.

More information at www.vegadelmar.org