Monday, October 12, 2015

Málaga - the Costa del Sol's cultural centre

Málaga, the second largest city in Andalucía, is surprisingly attractive given its close proximity to the Costa del Sol. In recent years, it has made some concessions to tourism but the changes made have only further enhanced the city's reputation as a cultural tourist destination. For example, the Picasso Museum has recently been opened. Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga and the new museum has an extensive selection of his works. 

Picasso Museum, Málaga

Only a short walk away is the Renaissance Cathedral. It was begun in 1528 on the site of a mosque. However, the building is still incomplete, as one of the two towers remains  unfinished. To be fair most of the building - the interior, the main facade and one of the towers - were completed in 1782, a mere 254 years later! It was worth the wait for the building is quite splendid especially the Baroque façade which faces the Plaza del Obispo. Whilst the exterior is quite exuberant, the interior is rather solemn – mostly Renaissance but with some Baroque embellishments.

Málaga Cathedral © Robert Bovington

Málaga - El Sagrario
© Robert Bovington
Next door to the Cathedral are two more historic buildings - El Sagrario and the Palacio Episcopal. The former is a 16th century church that actually stands in the gardens of the Cathedral. The 18th century Bishop's Palace stands in the Plaza del Obispo. Its pink and grey doorway is especially attractive.
Málaga - Bishop's Palace © Robert Bovington
an alleyway in Málaga
© Robert Bovington
This area of the city has many monuments dating from the Christian era yet there are many little alleyways and tiny streets with a decidedly Moorish feel to them. There are numerous bars and cafés here, so it is a good place to obtain refreshments, which you'll need if you intend to visit the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro! These monuments are but a short walk from the cathedral – along Calle Cister to the Plaza de la Aduana.

Málaga is a big city but most of its main attractions are in close proximity.

The Plaza de la Aduana is where the Teatro Romano is situated. Following extensive restoration work, the theatre was opened to the public in 2011. 

Overlooking the theatre is the Alcazaba which stands near the foot of Gibralfaro Hill. From Calle Alcazabilla, a series of zigzag walkways gradually wind their way up to the fortress. The Moors built it between the 11th and 14th centuries when Málaga was part of the Kingdom of Granada. It is a delightful place to stroll. Bougainvillaea, jasmine and honeysuckle adorn its courtyards and gardens and there are views of the city and the port from the ramparts of the fort. 

Málaga Alcazaba © Robert Bovington

Málaga Gibralfaro
© Robert Bovington
For really spectacular views, however, a visit to the Castillo de Gibralfaro is necessary! The remains of the 14th century castle overlook the Alcazaba as well as the city that, from this height, looks rather attractive with its ribbons of greenery. 
Paseo del Parque fuente
© Robert Bovington
The Paseo del Parque, in particular, is a pleasant place to visit. A splendid way to get from the Alcazaba to the harbour is to walk the length of this verdant botanical garden. It is a quiet oasis amidst the bustle of the surrounding streets. 

There are many other interesting places to see in Málaga – churches, museums and attractive squares like the Plaza de la Constitucíon. 

One particularly fascinating place to visit is El Cementario Inglés. This English cemetery was the first Protestant burial place in Spain. It was founded in 1831 and among its famous visitors was Hans Christian Anderson. He visited in 1862 but didn’t stay – unlike Gerald Brenan, the English author, who did and is buried there! 

Most English people who fly to the busy Málaga airport miss the opportunity of sampling the delights of this fascinating city. Instead, they head for Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella and good luck to them! It has meant that depite its close proximity to the Costa del Sol, the city of Málaga has retained its Spanishness. Amidst the high-rise blocks of the modern town can be found fascinating old buildings, leafy parks and tiny bars where the locals gossip over a glass of fino and a tapa.

Málaga © Robert Bovington

more blogs by Robert Bovington... 

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

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