Malaga is a city with more than 3,000 years of history with Phoenician origins which, in recent years, has embarked on a renewal process, becoming one of the most interesting capitals in Spain.
The pedestrianisation of the city centre, the arrival of many high-end restaurants and hotels and the opening of museums and galleries of the highest level have contributed to making Malaga the capital of the Costa del Sol par excellence.
A visit to Malaga means returning home with a wealth of culture. Art and heritage go hand in hand to create an offer that rivals that of the great European capitals.
Malaga is a city brimming with historical and cultural heritage. The best is to discover it for yourself, but in the meantime, here are some of the must-sees.
- Roman Theatre. Very close to the Alcazaba lies the city’s greatest archaeological discovery: the Roman Theatre. When, in the mid-20th century, the centre of Malaga was excavated to build a public building, the remains of the so-called Aditus Maximus came to light.
Built in the 1st century, it was used to stage plays of the time. The best preserved part is the grandstand, which is about 16 metres high.
- Alcazaba. The Alcazaba and Malaga are inseparable. Since the 11th century, this Arab fortress has watched over the city from the foot of Mount Gibralfaro. It has 110 towers, walls… and even Catholic figures such as virgins, as the city fell to the Catholic Monarchs and the Alcazaba became a Christian building.
Don’t miss this impressive fortification that has never been conquered.
- Cathedral. It took three centuries –from the 16th to the 18th– to build this magnificent temple, the second tallest cathedral in the Andalusian region. The foundations of the Great Mosque of Malaga were used to build it. It was a declaration of intent by the Catholic Monarchs during the Reconquest.
Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles come together in ‘La Manquita’, as the people of Malaga call it due to the lack of a second tower, the construction of which was never completed.
- Gibralfaro Castle. There used to be a Phoenician lighthouse on the hill next to the sea where the Gibralfaro Castle stands today. But, as is often the case, the next civilisation used these remains to build a fortress, which served to protect the Alcazaba. It was Abd al-Rahman III who ordered the construction of a building that was one of the most impenetrable fortresses on the peninsula and which later became the residence of Ferdinand the Catholic.
Culture also has its place among so much nature, landscapes and places of interest. Malaga has three of the most important museums in Spain.
- Pompidou Centre. Malaga is the first foreign branch of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Even from the outside, with its stunning coloured cube, you can sense that it contains some of the most innovative content.
More than 90 pieces of very different styles in a museum that covers 2,000 square metres and where you can enjoy pieces such as Picasso’s The Flower Hat, Frida Kahlo’s The Frame and René Magritte’s Rape.
- Museo Picasso Málaga. Visiting the capital of the Costa del Sol and not stopping by the Museo Picasso Málaga should be a crime, as it has become the most visited museum in Andalusia for a reason! Following the wish of the artist, who wanted his work to be displayed in his hometown, the MPM was inaugurated in 2003 in the Buenavista Palace, right in the heart of Malaga.
A staggering 233 works of art await you in a thematic and chronological tour perfect for gaining a deeper understanding of Picasso’s artistic career.
- Carmen Thyssen Museum. This art gallery opened in 2011 and houses one of the most important collections of Spanish and Andalusian painting from the 19th and 20th centuries. The more than 250 pieces are part of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza’s personal collection and reflect styles such as landscape and costumbrismo, as well as a selection of pieces by old masters such as Zurbarán.
The 16th-century Palacio de Villalón building was renovated to house this gallery and is a museum on its own, with a central courtyard that resembles a large Cordovan courtyard with arabesque arches.
With thirteen centuries of history, Malaga is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The Phoenicians saw in the colony of Malaka the prosperous and welcoming city it is today.
Historical centre of Malaga
Experience the history of Malaga and visit the most impressive monuments of the city, such as the Cathedral, the Alcazaba and the Atarazanas market. The famous Calle Larios is the epicentre of the area, a pedestrianised artery lined with shops, bars and restaurants.
The Plaza de la Merced, the Plaza de la Constitución, the Plaza de la Judería… or the Pasaje de Chinitas, an alleyway lined with traditional businesses that preserves the original local atmosphere. Malaga’s historic quarter is a place best explored at a leisurely pace, walking around and paying attention to every detail. Don’t miss a chance to visit it during the Malaga Fair!
This former industrial area was renovated to give rise to one of the most popular corners of the capital of Malaga. It is also home to the Pompidou and Thyssen museums.
Don’t miss the Malagueta beach for a nice day of sun and sea, and visit the port of Malaga for a stroll among the boats in a relaxing and multicultural atmosphere. A coffee at Muelle Uno overlooking the sea, a boat trip as the sun sets, restaurants, shops, markets… the port is the perfect meeting point.
They call it “Malaga’s Soho”, and for good reason. They call it “Malaga’s Soho”, and for good reason. Art, creativity, innovation, energy… life has a different colour in this district of murals, graffiti, terraces and coworking spaces. Culture and curiosity are concentrated in its streets, which have also managed to preserve the charm of the old humble Malaga.
Environmental care and natural beauty also have their place in Malaga.
La Concepción Botanical Garden
This historical and artistic garden occupies no less than 3.5 hectares of land, renowned for its collection of subtropical flora. Waterfalls, fountains, greenhouses, streams… when you visit the Botanical Garden of La Concepcion, you will enter an almost dreamlike world.
The collections of palm trees, bamus and aquatic plants are our absolute favourites. You have more than 50,000 plants to choose from, as well as an area of historical garden declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.
La Malagueta, the beach par excellence in the city of Malaga, was renovated to become the wonderful beach it is today: calm waters surrounded by a beautiful promenade and only 10 minutes from the city centre. Living in the city here does not mean being far from the sea. It also offers services such as sun loungers and parasols for hire, children’s play area, nautical equipment…
The beaches of La Caleta and Pedregalejo are also good options if you are staying for several days. These beaches are quieter than La Malagueta but also offer a full range of services.
No place is known until you have tasted its cuisine. This is how you get to know Malaga through its flavour.
The site of the Atarazanas market was once the site of the 14th century Nasrid shipyards. The current building, inaugurated in 1879, preserves the main door in the Nasrid style and is a very significant example of 19th century architecture. Spectacular stained glass windows were added to the interior in 1973. It is also the perfect place to sample the best of Malaga’s gastronomy by visiting the stalls of bars and restaurants or buying meats, cheeses, seafood, fish…
Where to eat in Malaga
It’s hard to choose! But there are two restaurants that you must try:
You can’t leave Malaga without going to El Pimpi. With more than 40 years of history, it is probably the best known restaurant in the city. Not just because of the decoration of this old 18th century building with its patios, corners and tiles, but also because their dishes always get it right. Fried fish, loin of pork, aubergines… yum!
For signature dishes and an unbeatable location in the Villa Guadalupe hotel, Amador Fernández’s Restaurante Amador has it all. Breathtaking views of Malaga, works of art and dishes such as lamb shoulder, organic artichokes and foie gras with apple emulsion.
Dishes and tradition
Tradition never fails and the typical dishes of Malaga are one example. Simple, but not ordinary.
- Ajoblanco. The soup is also for summer. Typical of the Axarquía region, ajoblanco has already achieved national fame. And it is well deserved, because the mixture of sweet (from the grapes) and bitter (from the almonds) flavours is something that does not fail to impress.
- Malaga fried fish and espetos. The Costa del Sol is worth a visit just for the famous ‘pescaíto frito’ (fried fish). Top quality oil, fresh fish from the Mediterranean (anchovies, red mullet, poplars…) and the good work of Malaga’s chefs are the keys. Oh, and a squeeze of lemon.
- Ajobacalao. Typical of Vélez-Málaga, ajobacalao is eaten mainly during Lent. We could compare it to a pâté, and it contains desalted cod, baked breadcrumbs, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, chilli and olive oil. A finger-licking good starter.
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