"Costa del Sol's best kept secret"
Malaga, the Provinces Capital is easily accessible via the A357 Mmotorway or the rail link to Alora near Cortijo Valverde. With its metropolitan population exceeding 1.5 million, Malaga is now the 5th largest city in Spain. The port city of Andalucia and the provincial capital of the region, Malaga has become the centre of commerce, international trade and airport hub for holiday destinations in the Costa del Sol. Malaga is the undiscovered treasure of Costa del Sol with its beautiful sandy beach, wonderfully maintained parks, amazingly restored Moorish Alcazaba, fantastic shopping centres and fascinating old quarters. Many visitors to Costa del Sol miss out on a great city that is rich in architecture, history, gastronomy and a wonderful place to visit.
Founded by Phoenicians in 1000 BC and named Malaka, the name was probably derived from the word for Salt (Mela in Hebrew & Mil in Arabic). Malaga has a rich history and architecture dating back to Visigoth's (500BC-300BC), Romans (300 BC- 100 AD), and Moors (800 AD- 1500 AD). Malaga was one of the last places to fall during the Reconquista (1487). Malaga also suffered heavy bombing during the Spanish Civil War by both General Franco’s Artillery and Italian Air Force. This period witnessed the darkest day in Malaga's history when the Nationalist Artillery, Italian Navy and German Luftwaffe killed 40,000 fleeing civilians on the road to Almeria, the last stronghold of the Republicans.
The harsh life for Andalucia under Franco did not dampen Malaga's zest for life. Malaga is famed for its fiestas and its enormous appetite for throwing the best City Parties in Spain. Malaga Feria is a 11-day festival of street parties, free concerts, market stalls and general merry making, which moves on to the purpose-built "Feria" grounds each evening with a massive Fair Ground for the Children and an amazing party for the adults. Malaga does not sleep for 11-nights, which requires not only energy but uncommon stamina for partying!
Christmas Lights, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain Malaga is also famed for its Christmas Lights, each year stunning the nation with its ever elaborate and larger displays. In 2007 Malaga displayed over 3.5 million lights in the city (up from 3 million record in 2006!), which attracts Spanish visitors from all over the country. The 3-Kings parade and celebration is yet another excuse for a street party, with the parade arriving at the Port and winding its way through the old centre taking nearly four hours to complete!
The inner city of Málaga is just behind the harbour. The quarters of El Perchel, La Trinidad and Lagunillas surround this centre. The best way to see the old City is to start from Calle Marques de Larios, which is the main street of the old city and is now pedestrians only access. Larios street is the centre of life in Malaga. It is the main route for the Easter Parade, 3-Kings night, the day-time Feria in August, and the focus of all activities during Christmas. This is where street entertainers, expensive boutiques, and Malaga’s lunching ladies meet! Try "Los Pantos" the best patisserie shop in Malaga just on your right as you walk up Larios street from Alameda Principal to the Plaza de Constitución. Walk up to the Plaza de Constitucion where there is always something going on; an Art display, a concert (Christmas & Easter), street entertainers, etc.
With the main Plaza to your left and Larios behind you, take the alleyway to the far right corner of the plaza (just past the restaurant on your right). Follow this narrow alleyway and you should come to the Cathedral also known as the “Unfinished Cathedral” to your right corner. You will note that the far end bell tower has its roof missing. The legend has it that the Bishop of Malaga sent the money raised for its completion to help the Americans fighting the British for independence. Although since then money has been made available, it was decided to leave the cathedral in its original state to preserve its historical importance.
Continue walking along keeping the cathedral to your right, and after 200 meters you should come to a junction with the entrance of Alcazaba to your left. This is a place worth visiting and do so with plenty of time. Although this is not as large or grand as Alhambra, Malaga’s Alcazaba (Spanish corruption of the word Al Cazba) is a serene and beautiful place with amazing gardens and delicate architecture with almost no sign of pretentiousness or triumphalism. You also will have fantastic views of the harbour and the city but the best views are yet to come when you ascend to Gibrafalaro castle (only for the fit and healthy otherwise take the bus to the top and walk down!).
Picasso museum is near the Cathedral and is well sign posted. These are not his most famous pieces but they are some of his earlier works. Even if you are not a fan of Picasso and modern art, you will enjoy this visit as the museum itself is the star of the show. The museum is housed in a renovated Moorish building with the classic courtyard, beautiful walkways, airy terraces and some of the most intricate woodwork on the ceilings. So when you are walking around don’t just look at the frames, look up and see the heavens above.
Other interesting tourist places to visit in Malaga include:
- Museo de Artes y Tradiciones Populares (Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions)
- Cathedral of the Encarnation (neoclasical)
- Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace)
- Iglesia del Sagrario (church)
- Iglesia Parroquial de Santiago (St James's church)
- Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista
- Plaza de Toros (bullring)