Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and one of the major cities in Spain, with an impressive history and an even more interesting present. Its old town, with its bustling harbour, has been declared a Historic Artistic Site and Site of Cultural Interest.
Malaga"s tourist offer is extensive. Its sixteen beaches and numerous leisure opportunities, sports or golf courses, combine with an attractive monumental heritage and network of world-class museums. Picasso's city is now a cultural centre of reference in Europe.
IN MALAGA DO NOT MISS
The Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle are the main legacy of Malaga's Arab past. These fortresses, built between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, represent one of the examples of the era's best preserved defensive architecture in Spain. You can get fabulous views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea from the castle, which dominates the top of the mountain of the same name.
At the foot of both fortifications the Roman Theatre is located. Built in the times of Emperor Augustus, it hosts shows in a unique environment. It also has an innovative interpretation centre to learn about the life and customs of Roman Hispania.
Nearby is the Catedral de Málaga or de la Encarnación. Designed by Diego de Siloé, other great masters of the Andalusian Renaissance such as Andrés de Vandelvira, Hernán Ruiz II and Diego de Vergara also participated in its construction. Among the jewels of art held in the temple are the tallas del coro [carvings of the choir], the work by Pedro de Mena.
Other examples of religious architecture are the iglesia de los Santos Mártires and the iglesia del Cristo de la Salud, the Palacio Episcopal and the flamboyant Gothic facade of the iglesia del Sagrario. The Basílica de la Virgen de la Victoria, patron of Malaga, with its rococo dome, is also worth a visit.
The capital of the Costa del Sol has a wide range of charming nineteenth-century buildings, such as the Teatro Cervantes, the Palacio de la Aduana or the Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta. Other nineteenth century buildings are the noble houses of the Alameda Principal, the Parque de Málaga and Calle Larios.
The city's most iconic street culminates in the plaza de la Constitución, presided over by the Renaissance style Fuente de Génova. From here you can admire the picturesque Pasaje de Chinitas, the Casa del Consulado and the Ateneo de Malaga, the old school where Picasso began to draw.
The most important cultural area of the capital is dedicated to the Malaga genius. Nestled in the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista, built in 1520, the Museo Picasso Málaga is the answer to the artist's desire to exhibit some of his work in his hometown. The permanent collection is made up of more than two hundred paintings, sculptures and ceramics.
Next to the museum is the Casa Natal de Picasso (the artist's birthplace), on the corner of the Plaza de la Merced, and the iglesia de Santiago, where little Pablo was baptised in 1881. The temple was built on an ancient mosque and has a Moorish tower initially conceived as a minaret.
The city also has the privilege of having one of the most valuable painting collections in Spain: the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga. Located in the Palacio de Villalon, there are more than two hundred works in the country's most representative collection of nineteenth century Andalusian art sample.
Another must for art lovers is the Centre Pompidou de Málaga, the first one built outside of France. This space is dedicated to avant-garde creations, in the same way as the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, housed in an old market near the river Guadalmedina.
With more than thirty museum spaces, the capital of the Costa del Sol has become a real benchmark. The Museo del Vino, the Museo del Flamenco, the Museo Revello de Toro or the Museo del Automovilismo are just a few examples of this immense cultural network. Special mention must go to the Colección del Museo Ruso, San Petersburgo/Málaga, composed of one hundred works from the fifteenth and twentieth centuries which can be admired in the former Tabacalera.
A different visit may be to the Cementerio Inglés [English Cemetery]. This space was first conceived as a botanical garden and a promenade in the nineteenth century. Later it would be converted into a churchyard. The Irishman Robert Boyd was one of the first famous people to be buried in this cemetery. Also resting here are Gamel Woolsey the American writer and the Spanish scholar and British writer Gerald Brenan, among others. The Cementerio Inglés has been declared of Site of Cultural and Historical Heritage of Spain.
Málaga-Costa del Sol airport, popularly known as Pablo Picasso airport, sits just eight kilometres south-east of the capital. There are different options available for you to get to the city centre.
By car: from the airport take Avenida de Velázquez (MA-21) and Avenida de Andalucía (MA-20) until you reach the city centre.
By bus: various urban, interurban and long-distance buses connect the airport with the city, surrounding villages and various towns in Andalusia. The Express line (bus stop at Terminal 3) will take you to the centre of Malaga in 15 minutes, with departures every 20 minutes.
By train: a local train line (cercanías) connects the airports with different key locations on the Costa del Sol, such as Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Torremolinos and Malaga. The C1 line (train stop at Terminal 3) will take you to Maria Zambrano station in Malaga in 15 minutes, with departures every 20 minutes.
Malaga has natural surroundings of great environmental value and scenic wealth. Worth a mention are the Parque Natural de los Montes de Málaga, a green space of almost 5,000 hectares with various species of flora and fauna. The setting is ideal for hiking or practicing outdoor activities. It has several recreational areas, a nature classroom and an eco-museum, located in an 1843 tank house. In it you can see the instruments used to produce the famous wine of Malaga.
The Jardín Botánico-Histórico de la Concepción, listed as a Site of Cultural Interest, offers you the chance to walk between plant species from every continent. While the Finca de la Concepción, in Churriana, invites us to contemplate its splendid garden with more than seven hundred plant species, all tropical and subtropical.
In the heart of the city is the Parque de Málaga, a true natural museum. It was designed in the nineteenth century and sits on land reclaimed from the sea. Parkside are the Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso and the Jardines de Puerta Oscura, and close to the Plaza de Toros de la Malagueta, the Cementerio Inglés. Originally conceived as a botanical garden.
Malaga's coastline is divided into sixteen beaches. Most are equipped with all kinds of services and enclosed by boardwalks. The most popular are Playa de la Malagueta, Playa del Palo, Playa de Pedregalejo and Playa de la Misericordia. The least busy is Playa de Guadalmar, which extends from the Paraje Natural from the river mouth of the river Guadalhorce.
CENTRES FOR ENTERTAINMENT
Malaga's privileged climate makes it an ideal place for outdoor sports at any time of the year. The capital of the Costa del Sol has three golf courses and countless opportunities to enjoy sailing, diving, paddle tennis, athletics and cycling.
The golf clubs in Malaga City are the Guadalhorce Club de Golf, the Real Club El Candado and the Parador Málaga Del Golf.
Malaga also has two leisure centres on the outskirts of the town with cinemas, restaurants and bowling alleys, and two go-karting circuits.
But Malaga city also has a large shopping centre open near the Puerto de Málaga, the Muelle Uno. With a shopping area and a food court, it has become an ideal place to spend a pleasant day in a privileged setting.
The main event of the Malaga's festival calendar is the Feria de Agosto. The city is decked out to host the big summer party, which has the singularity of being held in two spaces. The historic centre is filled with music, dancing and lots of fun during the Feria de Día. The Real de Cortijo de Torres, with its stalls and attractions, is open twenty-four hours a day. Traditions and folklore cannot be missed at this event, which commemorates the conquest of Malaga by the Reyes Católicos [Catholic Monarchs].
Another event of extreme importance is Semana Santa (Easter). From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the brotherhoods walk in procession through the streets of the capital carrying their sacred images on impressive thrones. It is the representation of the Passion of Christ. Declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest, this tradition has more than five centuries of history.
Furthermore, Carnival, the maritime processions of the Virgen del Carmen, the festividad de la Virgen de la Victoria and the Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales are other events with special roots in Malaga. And we mustn't forget Noche San Juan, where thousands of Malaga locals flock to the beaches for the summer. Tradition dictates that you carry everything needed for the celebration to be a success: food, drink, music, wood for bonfires and wishes written on paper. On that magical night anything can happen.
Another special occasion to enjoy in the capital of the Costa del Sol is during the week of the Festival de Cine de Málaga. It is a cultural event of the first order, which has become the main platform for the film industry in Spain. In addition to promoting the most important domestic cinema releases of the year, the best films are awarded, and honorary awards are granted.
One of the great gastronomic attractions of the capital of the Costa del Sol is the famous fried "pescaíto" (fried fish). Demand in beach bars, bars and restaurants soars in the summer season. Although you can also enjoy a delicious serving of the anchovy dish 'boquerones victorianos" during the rest of the year. The other masterpiece of Malaga cuisine is the grilled sardines. Stuck or 'skewered' on a reed, the fish is roasted in the heat of the coals, giving it an exquisite flavour.
The gazpacho (a refreshing recipe of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and bread) and ajoblanco (cold sofra, very cold, almonds, bread, oil and garlic crushed with grapes) and ensalada malagueña with cod and oranges, gazpachuelo (soup of hake and potatoes in a delicate blend of light and lemon mayonnaise) and the plato de los Montes (a striking combination of fried egg, pork, potatoes, sausages, peppers etc.) are other suggestions to whet your appetite. Tapas also take a pride of place in the gastronomy of Malaga. Tapas are small portions of food consumed as a snack to accompany a drink. Regarding tapas, the term 'tapeo' has been established, meaning habitual dining out or eating at the weekends based on these snacks.
We should also mention delicious pastry menu offered by Malaga. In-house or reinvented, the gentle hand of Malaga's confectionary masters is embodied in a real explosion of flavour and colour.
The village of Malaka was founded by the Phoenicians in the eight century BC. It lay by the mouth of the river Guadalhorce, a location chosen for its proximity to the harbour and for its natural resources. Close by, the Greeks established the Mainake colony, razed to the ground by the Carthaginians, who controlled the area until the arrival of the Romans. Under the Roman Empire, Málaga became part of Hispania Ulterior.
Roman Malaca grew on the basis of exports, mainly garum (fermented fish sauce), wine and olive oil. In 81 AD, it was a municipium and featured remarkable buildings, like the theatre on the slopes of mount Gibralfaro. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was seized by the Silingi, the Vandals and the Visigoths. In the days of Islamic Spain, it became dependent on the Emirate of Córdoba.
Successively, Málaga was controlled by the Hammudid, Zirid, Almoravid, Almohad and Nasrid dynasties. The changes in power relations did not affect the local economy and trade; this was because Málaga was protected by strong walls and the Gibralfaro Castle made a great vantage point. The Arabs stayed for eight centuries, and then there came the troops from the Kingdom of Castile. When the army of the Catholic Monarchs arrived, the city surrendered unconditionally. It was 1487.
In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, Málaga grew beyond its walls. Churches and convents were built all over. A century later, the city faced the expulsion of the Moors and several disasters, including floods and plagues. To make things worse, it withstood pirate attacks and charges from the Berbers, the French and the Britons.
In the eighteenth century, Málaga enjoyed some stability thanks to the boom of agricultural exports and the end of the monopoly on trade with the Americas. This had a positive impact on port activity. In the nineteenth century, the city was invaded by Napoleon"s army and devastated by the civil wars pitting liberals against conservatives. After his restoration as absolute monarch, Ferdinand VII took repressive measures against the liberal forces in his country. General Torrijos and his men were executed on the beach of San Andrés.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Málaga joined the Industrial Revolution with blossoming steel and textile industries. Two families were the driving forces behind industrialisation in Málaga: the Larios and the Heredias. Most factories and working class neighbourhoods were in the west, while the emerging bourgeoisie had their mansions built to the east. Meanwhile, striking buildings rose in the Old Town.
A few years later, local industry became stagnant and phylloxera brought wine making to a halt. This led to an economic downturn and crisis that lingered through the mid-twentieth century. It was then that the Costa del Sol emerged as a tourist resort and found a place among the world"s leading holiday destinations.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881. When he was ten, his family moved to La Coruña and then to Barcelona. He returned to his home town four times during his life. However, he settled in France, where he died in 1973. Picasso is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary artists. Scholars have found strong ties between his work, personality and ideas, and the city he was born in, with its powerful traditions.
Malaga’s cuisine is famed for its large variety of dishes prepared using local produce. It is without doubt an excellent example of the Mediterranean diet.
One of the biggest culinary draws of the capital of the Costa del Sol, particularly in the summer, is the popular pescaíto frito or fried anchovies caught in the city. Another exquisite fish dish is espeto de sardinas, sardine skewers grilled over the flames to give them an unmistakable taste.
Tapas are an extremely important part of Malaga’s dining culture. These small plates of food enjoyed with your before-dinner drink created the phenomenon of tapeo, dining on these delicious dishes with a good glass of local wine at the weekend.
The dishes you need to try on your visit to Malaga are gazpacho and ajoblanco, as well as ensalada malagueña with cod and oranges, gazpachuelo and plato de los Montes.
Last but by no means least, Malaga offers a delicious pastry menu. Either local recipes or recipes reintrpreted from other regions, these delicious bites of authentic food culture are crafted by skilled pastry chefs.
- Coastal area
- Near the airport
- Historic monuments
- Inhabitants (+50,000)