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Gibralfaro Castle standing guard from its watchtower over the city of Málaga. That is probably the first image that draws the eye of travellers disembarking at the port during their cruise around the Mediterranean. Through these same waters, the Phoenicians reached these shores 2,800 years ago. This event led to the birth of the primitive Malaka.

But the history of Málaga province dates back even further. The dolmens of Antequera and the rock paintings in the Cueva de Nerja cave bear witness to the presence of human settlements in these lands from the Palaeolithic age. The archaeological remains scattered around the coast, the mountains, and the countryside, offer visitors an interesting perspective on those prehistoric dwellers.

Mediterranean colonisers

Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans dominated these lands, leaving their most recognisable imprint in the town of Acinipo, close to Ronda, and the theatre dating back to the age of Augustus, in the historic centre of Málaga city. The Mediterranean colonisers turned the province of Málaga into a powerful economic hub based on exports of wine, oil, and a fish sauce known as garum.

Roman Malaca became a federate city with its own statute. Minerals, ceramics, and food products that achieved great fame were shipped out of the port, bound for Rome. This period of prosperity extended even after the fall of the Empire. Until the arrival of the Arabs in the 18th Century, Málaga passed through the hands of Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantines, who also capitalised on its copious resources.

Muslim Málaga

Málaga once again became one of the key ports in the Mediterranean during the age of Muslim domination. The Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle and the various fortresses dotted all around the province date back from this time. The majority of towns and villages in Málaga province retain the Morisco tradition in their architecture, along with many of their customs, and in several of their traditional dishes.

Málaga was the port of entry into the Kingdom of Granada, the nexus between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and a required stopping-off point for routes to the Far East. But fate held more surprises in store. After a long period of confrontation and clashes, the Catholic Monarchs conquered the city, which then came under Christian rule, along with the other towns and villages that were still under the control of the Arabs.

New times

From the 16th Century onwards, Málaga underwent some profound changes at all levels of its social, economic, and cultural life. The Church, the nobility, and later the bourgeoisie began to build churches, monasteries, and palaces all around the province, which are now monumental jewels boasting the most diverse architectural styles.

A 19th Century house in Málaga's Plaza de Torrijos in 1881 saw the birth of Pablo Ruiz Picasso. Together with his home, the museum dedicated to the work of this great artist is currently one of the cultural emblems of Málaga, an ancient land that has harmonised tradition with modernity.

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