Malaga can justifiably be regarded as one of the most important cities in Spain, and as the capital of the Costa del Sol, it is certainly a city worth a visit by any prospective visitor. The cosmopolitan city atmosphere (population approximately 550 000) can provide a refreshing change of pace to anyone who’s been soaking up the beach-life for a bit too long!
One of the most impressive structures to visit is the Alcazaba, a Muslim fortress built on the side of the Gibalfaro mountain and a national monument since 1931. The Alcazaba could almost provide a day out in itself, containing as it does three distinct palaces within its walls, and the remains of the Roman Theatre at its foothills. The fortress also houses Malaga’s Archaeological Museum, home to pieces from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, bronze and iron ages.
As with many places in Andalucia, Malaga represents all the religious traditions of its history, and the impressive Holy Cathedral is a remnant of the period following the Roman Catholic conquest of the city. The Cathedral is nicknamed “La Manquita” due to the fact that the south tower was never completed. Restoration has begun on the building, funded by the Costa del Sol’s American society, in a rather belated show of gratitude for Malaga’s donation of money designated for the East tower to the campaign against the British during the American War of Independence!
Other important buildings located in Malaga include the Town Hall, and in particular its highly impressive staircase, and the Our Lady of the Victory Sanctuary, featuring a 22 metre image of the eponymous lady, seated on her throne.
Typically for visitors to the Costa, a trip to Malaga will take the form of an excursion, a break from staying at one of the more tourist orientated towns on offer. As such, it’s important to know where to get that all important lunch! Malaga dutifully respects the siesta tradition, and as such provides a few hours each afternoon in which any tourist can relax and enjoy good food, drink and conversation. The big, and reasonably priced Malagan tradition is tapas. A great way to experience a wide variety of local dishes, relax in the square in which Picasso was born, in the old fashioned Taperia Siglo XX1, or perhaps, for the flashier visitor, El Trillo Taberna, located off one of Malaga’s more exclusive shopping streets. If you desire something different, a trip to the suburbs of El Palo or Pedregalejo, down towards the beach, will bring you into contact with a number of excellent seafood restaurants.
Eating and drinking in Picasso’s neighborhood may have provided you with a taste for something a little artistic, and where better to start than with the work of the master himself? Malaga’s Museum of Fine Arts, in the Palace of the Counts of Bellavista, is soon to be developed into a Picasso Museum, but in the meantime the interested can look at a number of his works, as well as a collection that houses paintings both old, (e.g. the works of Murillo and Zurbaran), and new (Carbonera and Degrain). The museum also contains sculptures by, amongst others, Pedro de Mena and Palma). Enjoy feeling cultured after a week of partying!!
The view over the plains of the Guadalhorce River can be enjoyed in the serene environment of El Retiro, Malaga’s ornithological and botanic park. Founded between 1664 and 1692, the gardens provide a perfect setting for relaxation (particularly by the fountain of “La Sirena”), as well as a prodigious amount to gaze at for bird and plant lovers. You’ll be sure to leave with a few ideas for the garden back home!
Malaga is obviously a great destination for a day trip, but it is also worthwhile staying for a while and sampling a bit of the nightlife. The city caters for anybody looking for fun, and its bars and clubs fully reflect this. Get into the spirit with all night flamenco at Vista Andalucia! Whiskey and jazz, Chicago style, at El Cantor de Jazz. Or perhaps, a personal favourite, see what the Costa can offer in terms of craic at O’Neill’s Irish Pub! And if you’re still suffering form last night’s flamenco, why not take it easy with a trip to the Miguel Cervantes Municipal Theatre, to enjoy a show or a concert?
In such a cosmopolitan city it would be impossible to describe all of the things that the eager visitor could find to do. It is possible, however, to offer a piece of advice. Make sure your only recollection of Malaga when you visit the Costa del Sol, isn’t the airport!