Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol

| December 30, 2011

Vicente Aleixandre, the distinguished Nobel prize-winning poet, described Málaga as the “City of paradise. You seem to reign under the heavens, over the waters, between the air”; a city in which different peoples and cultures have left an imprint of their rich historical and cultural heritage.

Málaga, fenced in by mountains and fractured by the mouth of the Guadalmedina river, looks upon the Mediterranean with its maritime vocation and medley of villages. The Phoenicians arrived by sea and founded the settlement of Malaka. From its port they ferried their products (fish, silk, figs, wines, raisins, almonds, etc.) throughout the Roman Empire, receiving from Rome Lex Flavia malacitana ensuring their privileges.

Malaga Cityscape 450x300 Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol spain travel destinations malaga andalusia

Malaga

Under Arab domination it became one of the most important cities of the area, with a population of fifteen thousand at the end of the 10th century. Capital of the Moorish Hammudí kingdom, it was a flourishing city when the famous traveller Ibn Batuta said in the 14th century that “it combined the advantages of both the inland and the seaside”.

The recapturing of Granada by Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarch, and the subsequent revolts leading to the expulsion of the Moors, seriously affected its development in the 16th and 17th centuries. Prosperous trade with America and improved communications turned it into one of the main commercial centers in Spain during the next century. The confrontation between the absolutists and liberals led in the second half of the 19th century to industrialization and an economic boom at the hand of the textile, and iron and steel industries.

The decline of these industries at the end of the 19th century brought it to a lull from which it bounced back with more vigor than ever thanks to tourism starting in the 50’s, consecrating it as capital of the sun and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.

Malaga Central Park 450x204 Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol spain travel destinations malaga andalusia

Malaga Central Park

Things to see in Malaga

In the old quarter of the city center, the complex consisting of the stronghold of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle is undoubtedly the best preserved Arab monument. The castle, founded by Phoenicians and reconstructed as a defense of the city by the Moorish king Badis, rises on the highest hill and is connected to the Alcazaba fortress by a walled road.

The Alcazaba, as palace-fortress of the rulers, was also connected to the city by ramparts. We enter the interior perimeter by Cristo tower to visit the Arms courtyard and tower. Through the gate of Puerta de los Cuartos de Granada, we arrive at the upper area where we encounter the keep, the Palace (part of which dates back to the 11th century and the rest from the 13th and 14th centuries) and also the Archeological section of the Málaga Museum.

Malaga Alcazaba castle1 450x300 Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol spain travel destinations malaga andalusia

Malaga Alcazaba castle

Strolling along the nearby street called Calle Alcazabilla and its side streets among cypresses and fragrant purple bougainvilleas, we find the Roman theater and very close to it the building of the old Customhouse and the Cathedral, built by order of the Catholic Monarchs over an ancient mosque. Its construction lasted throughout three centuries and followed the original design of Diego de Siloé. Of interest in the interior are the choir stalls, carved principally by Pedro de Mena in the 17th century. The Church of El Sagrario, with its Gothic-Isabelline doorway and altarpiece, as well as other churches scattered throughout the city, such as the Church of Santiago, San Juan, Los Mártires, Cristo de la Salud, and the Shrine of La Victoria are other points of interest, as well as civil buildings, such as Casa de Mena and Villalcázar palace. The palace of the counts of Buenavista and Pablo Picasso House, located in the Plaza de la Merced, complete our tour through the center of the city.

Perhaps the most appealing part of Málaga resides in its typical streets and squares. A stroll through the gardens reminds us of the ancient Arab culture while the park, next to the port, is a large open-air museum with exotic specimens from all over the world. A charming music area can also be found. A walk down the Pasaje de Chinitas, in the heart of the city, is a typical sample of the enjoyable atmosphere.

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Category: Andalusia, Málaga, Spain travel destinations

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