Here we propose a guide.
Located in Andalucia, in southern Spain, Malaga is progressively drawing more attention due to its almost perfect weather (an average temperature of 20 degrees and virtually no rain), its beaches, and its mixture of highly technologized culture with ancient castles. Therefore, it is easy to get confused when facing an itinerary in the city. Which are the must-visit places? Here we propose a guide.
The Moorish presence
Spain has conserved many medieval buildings, some of which show the country's strong impact on Moorish culture. Malaga was once part of the Kingdom of Granada, a core of the Islamic civilization in Spain. Though most names are preserved in their original language, you should take a Spanish course before traveling.
- Malaga’s Alcazaba (Alcazaba de Malaga): first built in the eleventh century, it was a stronghold closely related to Gibralfaro’s Castle, for they both stand in Mount Gibralfaro’s. Both a palace and a fortress hold all the luxuries of a residential place, including over 100 defense towers and secret defense halls. It is also close to the Roman Theatre, which remains standing since the roman period. Torre de la Vela, Arco de Cristo, and Torre del Homenaje are open for visitors.
- Gibralfaro Castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro): its name loosely translates to “the lighthouse mount” and you may find it familiar, for it is depicted in Malaga’s flag. It is famous for its historical three-month siege, in which the Sultan of Granada, an inhabitant of the castle, resisted the Catholic monarch’s advance. The Interpretation Centre contains registers of the military life that was held there. It is situated above Malaga’s Alcazaba (it was first built for the Alcazaba’s defense). At the top of Mount Gibralfaro, it offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Malaga’s harbor and landscape. On some days, it is also possible to see the strait of Gibraltar and some of the mountains of the Rif mountain range in Africa.
The Catholic presence
From Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia to Malaga’s Cathedral, Spain has some of the most iconic churches in the world. The Catholic company was and still is very strong, and it is shown in the grandness of its buildings.
- Malaga’s Cathedral (Catedral de Málaga or Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación de Málaga): considered one of Malaga’s most important architectural jewels, it has been standing on what is now called Old Town since the 15th century (the Spanish Renaissance, when the monarchy built the cathedral over the mosque it was there). It is also known as “La Manquita” (the one-handed one) because it lacks one of the towers it was meant to have in its initial planning. Nevertheless, you can still visit the capilla del Rosario, the capilla de los Reyes, the capilla Mayor, and the Torre Norte (a twin of the never-finished original tower)
- Our Lady of Victory Basilica (The Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Victoria): this church gained its name for containing the Shrine of Our Lady of Victory, Malaga’s patroness. It has been contemporarily listed as a Historical Monument, but it has been standing since the 17th century. It holds particular importance during the Holy Week celebrations.
- Holy Week (Semana Santa): it started with the finalization of the Catholic Monarchy’s Reconquest of Andalucia, and, after over 500 years, it is both a religious and cultural event that draws the attention of tourists. Throughout the week, large images of saints are carried in “thrones” during the parades.
Museums house some of the most precious items a culture offers, and they offer insight into the city. Nevertheless, you can take Spanish courses in Malaga to explore the culture.
- Picasso Malaga Museum (Museo Picasso Málaga): built initially over from the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista and located in Old Town (as well as Malaga Cathedral and Constitution Square or Plaza de la Constitución), this museum houses 285 of Picasso’s works from all of his artistic evolution. Here, you will find the Acrobat (1930), Still Life with Skull and Three Sea Urchins (1947), the Bather (1971), and Musketeer with a Sword (1972), among others. It is not to be mistaken with Picasso Birthplace Museum (Museo Casa Natal de Picasso), the painter’s childhood home located in Plaza de la Merced (Mercy Square), which also holds several artworks.
- Museo Carmen Thyssen (Carmen Thyssen Museum): once the Palacio de Villalón, it holds over 250 of Spain and Andalucia’s most important artwork, which come from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection and centers mainly in the 19th and 20th century. Here, you will find Niccolò Frangipane’s, Penitente, Francisco de Zurbarán’s Santa Marina, Emilio Sánchez Perrier’s Invierno en Andalucía and Cecilio Pla y Gallardo’s Mujeres en el Jardín, among several others.
- Malaga Museum (Museo de Malaga): built over Palacio de la Aduana, this is a two-in-one building, for it includes the Museo de Bellas Artes de Málaga and the Museo Arqueológico Provincial de Málaga. Andalucia’s biggest museum has over 15000 archeological references and 2000 artworks.
- Centre Pompidou (Centro Nacional de Arte y Cultura Georges Pompidou): the original Centre Pompidou is located in France. Malaga’s counterpart is the first to be opened in a foreign country. It has been standing since 2015, and its building is known as “The cube”. It focuses primarily on contemporary art, and it has semi-permanent collections. They have included works from artists like Picasso, Frida Kahlo, René Magritte, Max Ernst, and Joan Miró.
- Concepción Historical-Botanical Garden (Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción): it has not only an elegant and exquisite design, but it also is where over 150000 plants (some of them exotically tropical for Europe) grow.
- Mercado de Atarazanas (Atarazanas Market Hall): with a grand entrance that follows the Moorish style, it is both a tourist site and a place to have lunch, for it sells fish, vegetables, and cheese.
Dwell into Malaga’s sun and culture. Start planning your journey.