Málaga is a seaside city in Spanish Andalusia with a population of more than half a million people. If Seville – the administrative capital of the autonomous community, Malaga – its resort center, combining dozens of vacation spots on 150 kilometers of the Mediterranean coast of the Costa del Sol or “Sunny Coast”. The city is located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula on a narrow strip of flat land in the bay of the same name, surrounded by mountains.
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Málaga has a special atmosphere, and the malaguenos are famous for their extravagance. Once frequented by Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors, the local port is now docked here by cargo ships and ferries. Much of the city’s charm lies in the possibility of easy, pleasant strolls through the pedestrian zones, from Paseo Maritimo on the coastal side to the lush parks in Paseo del Parque, with benches and ponds filled with waterfowl, on the way to the shady Alameda. Here, flower vendors sit in front of elegant 19th-century buildings, beneath tall, century-old trees. North of Alameda is the marble-paved shopping street of the Marques Larios, which ends in Constitution Square. The network of narrow streets leading to the cathedral of Málaga is covered with small restaurants, bars and shops selling books, clothes and antiques. Three blocks west of Marques Larios Street is the colorful Mercado de Atarazanas market.
Summers in Málaga are dry and hot; in winter frosts are extremely rare. There is little rain, with most rain falling between November and February. Málaga is one of the sunniest cities in Spain. The Guadalmedina river, originating in the mountains, is a source of flooding several times in a century, but the last time it was observed about 50 years ago. The whole service industry Malaga is geared to tourism, so the choice of places to stay will not be a problem, except that in the season is worth booking your favorite rooms in advance.
The history of the city
Málaga, one of the oldest cities in Europe, has preserved its historical name, given to it in the VIII century BC by the Phoenicians. Convenient location on the border of European and African continents made Málaga a desired prey for the conquerors. Left by the Phoenicians, it became part of the Roman Empire, then was occupied by the Visigoths, who were supplanted for a time by the Byzantines.
Malaga in 1572
In the eighth century, the Arabs came here in earnest and took the city to a new level: the prosperous Malaga became a recognized center of silk fabric production and the capital of an emirate. The Moorish period ended in the 15th century when, after a long siege, the city came under the rule of the Castilians. The locals, mostly Moors who had converted to Catholicism, did not immediately accept the changes: they took an active part in the perennial Moriscan uprisings. The experience of struggle was useful to their descendants who came forward during the Spanish Revolution of 1868-1874 with anarchist slogans: an organization of followers of our compatriot Bakunin was active in Malaga. The Russian trace in the history of a territory so distant from our country does not end here. During the Civil War in Málaga there were many Soviet volunteers who fought against Franco.
Already in our time, in 2015, the city became the first in Europe to open a branch of the St. Petersburg Russian Museum.
Architectural sights of Málaga
The development of Málaga is characterized by a combination of two opposites: chaotic and cramped because of the lack of space in the flat area and a clear thoughtfulness in the recreational areas and walks of the citizens. The eclecticism is even more evident in the architecture: Moorish features are combined with neo-Gothic, baroque and neo-classicism not just in the same street, but within the same temple or palace.
Monuments of Antiquity
Not much remains of Ancient Rome in Málaga. The best preserved elements are those of the Roman theater of the 1st century A.D. which can be seen near the City Hall, at the foot of the City Castle. The excavations are still going on, but tourists are allowed in. These are the standard stone steps-seats arranged in a semicircle, over which the gloomy fortress walls overhang.
The hill in the center of town is crowned by the Moorish fortress of Alcazaba. Its numerous towers and walls surround the building of the former palace, which now houses the Archaeological Museum. There is a wonderful landscape all around, and inside there are carved Mudejar ceilings, mosaic images, Roman and Arab ceramics.
Through the efforts of the religious Castilians not much of the Moorish legacy remains. During the Arabs, in the XIV century, a castle was built on the hill of Gibralfaro or “Mount of the Lighthouse”. From the same period belong the ruins of the fortress walls. Now it is the best observation deck in the city from where you can see even the Strait of Gibraltar. In summer the access to the castle with a collection of military art is open from 9 to 20 o’clock, in winter the site closes earlier – at 18.00.
Andalusian Renaissance, Classicism and Baroque
All these directions can be safely combined, because in pure form they are not actually represented in Málaga. The reason for the mix is not so much the progressive views of the architects, as the long construction period: some buildings were built for 300 years, and each new architect added to them elements of his era. The Malaga Cathedral of the Incarnation, located 100 meters west of the foot of the hill, is a typical example of this combination of styles. Its single 84-meter tower earned the temple the nickname La Manquita, which means “the one-armed lady.” This was not a feature of the project, it was simply that no money could be found to complete the symmetrical tower. In 1528, from the time the first stone was laid, the temple was conceived as a neo-Gothic with light elements of Moorish style, the next 2.5 centuries of construction work added features of classicism and baroque to the building.
Malaga Cathedral of the Incarnation The Bishop’s Palace in Malaga
The interior of the Malaga Cathedral is equally eclectic, with the 17th-century carved wooden choir by Pedro de Mena, the famous Spanish Baroque sculptor, being particularly prized among the decorative elements. The side aisles are also full of artistic treasures, which, however, are difficult to discern in the semi-darkness. The chapel just behind the altar, where the white marble sculptures by Juan de Salazar rival the back of the choir facing the main entrance, a work by the Pissani brothers from 1802, is more visible. To the right of the Salazar sculptures in the second chapel is the magnificent Gothic altarpiece of the “Obel of St. Gregory” by Fernando de Coca. Don’t forget to check out the lovely gardens at the back, where in the church of El Sagrario there is a magnificent Plateresco altarpiece by Juan Balmaceda and a portal decorated in Isabelian-Gothic style. Next to the cathedral of Malaga is the more opulent and ornate Baroque Bishop’s Palace, which houses the church’s museum.
By papal decree, the cathedral was given the status of a minor basilica. There are only three such important sites for Catholics in a city full of churches. In addition to the Cathedral of Malaga, the Basilica de Esperanza in Perchel, on the opposite bank of the Guadalmedina River from the historic center, is a recent, neo-baroque church. The most famous church, however, is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victoria, named for the statue of Santa Maria de la Victoria, patroness of the city. Every year, on September 8, a church procession is held in her honor. The building was built on the spot where the Castilian army camped before the siege of Málaga. A statue of German work was given to Málaga by Emperor Maximilian I. In addition to the figure of the Virgin Mary, the temple is famous for the pantheon of the Counts of Buenavista, decorated with eerie reliefs with dancing skeletons.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victoria Basilica de la Esperanza
Málaga is full of unremarkable, typical apartment buildings decorated with giant graffiti. Far from fighting it, the authorities encourage young artists. Among the interesting modern buildings is the Pompidou Center, or, as it is unofficially called, “The Cube. It is a cube-like structure of steel frame and bright colored glass with a transparent roof, located at the eastern end of the city’s main park. It houses paintings by Chagall, Miró, Picasso and the Surrealists.
The Pompidou Center “Cube” Graffiti in Málaga
A large part of Malaga’s museums are housed in historic buildings. The Picasso Museum, the most famous local native, is located 100 meters northeast of the cathedral in the 16th century Buenavista Palace. The exhibition features early works of the master, where he demonstrates the skills of an excellent academic painter. Among the paintings of interest to the Russian tourist is “Portrait of Olga Khokhlova in mantilla”, the Diaghilev ballerina and his first wife. At the exhibitions you can also see the avant-garde paintings of a later period. Tickets to the museum, which is open until 8 pm, cost 8-10 euros. Another 200 meters in the same direction, in Merced Square, the artist’s house-museum, where he was born and grew up, is carefully preserved.
The Málaga Art Museum moved to the Palacio de Aduana not long ago. Here, in a 19th century neoclassical building, it contains archaeological collections and Spanish paintings – valuable works by Velázquez, Zurbarán and Goya. Museum of Thyssen-Bornemisza, the largest private collector, graces Madrid, and in Malaga opened the museum of Carmen Thyssen, the now surviving widow of the baron, maiden Carmen Cervera – a beautiful model of scandalous international fame. This art and educational center with paintings by Spanish painters is open 200 meters northwest of the Malaga Cathedral. Usually the ticket price is 9 euros, but on Sundays, after 5 p.m., admission is free for all. A 10-minute walk south is the Museum of Modern Art. The permanent exhibit features works by Spanish masters.
One of the few non-artistic collections in Málaga is the Car Museum, located next to the promenade of Antonio Banderas, another famous native of the city. Here, too, part of the exhibition space is devoted to fashion shows and contemporary art installations. In the next building is a branch of the Russian Museum with works by Chagall, Levitan, Malevich.
Car Museum in Málaga
Parks, gardens and beaches in Málaga
The city has many parks and gardens. Some of them were formed around the villas of aristocrats, others were laid out in the 19th century for walks of the citizens. In addition, the authorities were actively engaged in landscaping the city in the twentieth century, when they discovered that the once full-flowing river Guadalmedina, devoid of trees on the banks, gradually turns into a creek and the cars in Málaga has become too much.
Málaga’s most famous park is called just Parque. It begins at Plaza Marina, to which the oldest walkway Alameda Principal leads, and ends at the “Three Graces” fountain. To the east, the Park is bordered by the Alonso Geometric Gardens. The hillside of Gibralfaro is decorated with the cascading gardens of Puerta Oscura. The administrative building of the Botanical Gardens of the University of Malaga rather resembles a motley hangar with floral applications. Inside it contains both a scientific collection and historic landscape gardens of rich families. The garden operates according to the schedule of the university – it has vacations in the summer.
Malaga Parks and Gardens
7 km north of Málaga is the botanical garden Finca de la Concepción with a rich collection of palms and exotic plants.
There are 16 beaches in the municipality, the most popular of which is La Malagueta. The 1.2 kilometers of sandy strip begins at City Hall level and stretches eastward to the El Rocio area. The city beaches are predominantly sandy; the suburban beaches are rocky. You can admire the blooming Málaga, its beaches and historic districts from a height of 70 meters from the air-conditioned cabin of the Ferris wheel on the seafront near the Marina square.
La Malagueta beach Ferris wheel in Málaga
Holidays and festivals
No matter when you plan your trip to Málaga, there is always a chance to catch a local festival. There are more than 40 religious events with processions of thousands of people a year. In April, the city hosts the Malaga Film Festival, the second most important in the country. Its grand prize, the Golden Bisnaga statuette, is noteworthy. This is the fruit of the art of local florists: jasmine flowers set on a dried umbrella of ammi dentifera. They sell the resulting balls on a stick in the summer: in the evenings, the jasmine opens up and scares away mosquitoes with its fragrance. The product is so popular that in the 1960s they even erected a monument to its seller, the “bisnagero,” in Alonso Gardens. The unsophisticated viewer perceives the vendor as a thoughtful man with a bouquet on a date, rather than as a small businessman. Another important statue for the Malagasy in Marina Square depicts a “senachero,” a barefoot fishmonger.
Bullfighting takes place in the La Malagueta arena – obligatory during Holy Week before Catholic Easter, on the day of the martyrs Siriaco and Paula on June 18, the days of the August fair. In September, the bullfight honors Santa Maria de la Victoria, the statue of Our Lady, patroness of Málaga. The spectacular arena is designed on the principle of ancient theater, but with elements of Moorish style. Málaga is the birthplace of one of the flamenco trends, especially many dancers can be seen from the second Friday of August until the next Sunday, when the city hosts a fair.
Enotourism in Málaga
For connoisseurs of high-end alcohol, Málaga is also the home of the dessert wine of the same name. Learn more and taste the best samples at the Museum of Wine, located in the historic center of the city, in the Plaza Los Viñeros. The unrepresentative three-story house is actually an 18th-century palace, recently renovated to house the exhibits. Collections are kept on two floors: here all the information on the history of local varieties and advertising and printing products related to Malaga. The cost to visit the museum is 5 euros with a tasting of two varieties, children under 18 years are admitted free of charge, of course, without tasting. If you like the samples, for a modest surcharge, you can continue the banquet. The museum is the main organizer of oenotourism, which consists of visits to vineyards and private wineries. For promotional purposes, the guests are shown all the subtleties of production and offered to buy the varieties they like. Taster courses are organized for the connoisseurs.
Malaga Wine Museum
Shopping and restaurants in Malaga
Shopping centers and small shops are concentrated along the river Guadalmedina. The largest department store Larios is located on Aurora Avenue, next to the Picasso Gardens. Buy fresh local produce at the Atarasanas market in the morning. It is better to buy wine directly from the wineries. In addition to wine, until recently Málaga was famous for the light beer “Victoria”, but the production was transferred to Murcia and now it can be found only in stores among other varieties of foamy drink.
Restaurants are found literally at every step, it is better to order the fish dishes, especially those made with the symbol of Málaga – anchovies. Andalusian version of garlic soup and gazpacho, local pastries and desserts.
In Málaga there are many hotels for all tastes and budgets. Well-deserved love of travelers are the colorful Room Mate Valeria (4*) with its courtyard and rooftop pool; Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina (4*) – a real castle with 3,500 m² of public spaces, gardens and terraces; The design hotel Petit Palace Plaza Málaga (4*) located right in front of Málaga Cathedral, the inexpensive but charming Hotel Monte Victoria (2*), and the charming Villa Lorena in a quiet residential area of El Limonar, just a 5-minute walk from the beach.
How to get there
Travelers arrive in Málaga via the international airport, located 10 minutes southwest of the city. Aeroflot and S7 fly here from Moscow. Mediterranean cruise ships call at the port of Málaga. Railway connections connect the city with the center of the country and other cities on the Costa del Sol. You can get to Madrid in just 2.5 hours by high-speed line.
The main public transportation in Málaga are buses, urban and suburban. The first subway lines were laid here only in 2014, two more are under construction. There are many bus stops on the streets, and they are located at short distances from each other. Since 2013, the city has opened 21 bicycle rental stations and laid bicycle paths. Access to two-wheelers is by bus pass. Malaga cabs are caught right on the street, and are also ordered online or from parking lots.
Malaga (Spain) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Malaga with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Malaga (Spain)
Malaga – a city in the south of Spain in the autonomy of Andalusia. It was founded in the 8th century BC and is one of the oldest Mediterranean seaports. Málaga is the heart of the tourist region of the Costa del Sol. The city fascinates with the atmosphere of the old town, beautiful landscapes, beaches and sea. Málaga is also known as the birthplace of Picasso.
What to do (Málaga):
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Málaga Roman, Moorish, Catholic
See the symbols of the city and discover the local cuisine on a historical and gastronomic tour
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Paella and Gazpacho: a Master Class with an Andalusian Chef
Learn how to cook two of the most popular Spanish dishes under the tutelage of an acclaimed maestro.
Geography and climate
Málaga is located in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula on the western coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Guadalmedina and Guadaljorge rivers run through the city. The bay is surrounded by low mountains. The climate is Mediterranean. Summers are dry and hot, while winters are mild and humid.
- The population is 569 thousand people (the sixth city of Spain).
- Area – 398 square kilometers.
- Language: Spanish.
- Currency – Euro.
- Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- Visas – Schengen.
Tourist information centers:
- Plaza de la Marina, 11. 29001 Málaga.
- Plaza de la Aduana, s/n. 29015 Málaga.
- Calle Explanada de la Estación, s/n. 29002 Málaga.
- Avenida Comandante Garcia Morato, 1. Terminal 3. Llegadas. 29004 Málaga.
Beaches of Málaga
Beaches of Málaga
Málaga is famous for its beaches, the total length of which is about 14 km.
- The Baños del Carmen is 550 meters long and 15 meters wide. From here you have a beautiful view of the bay.
- Campo de Golf San Julián is the biggest beach of Málaga, located on its west side. Its length is more than 2 km.
- El Dedo – are 550 meters long and 25 meters wide.
- El Palo – is 1,200 meters long and 25 meters wide.
- La Araña is a beach in the eastern part of Málaga. Its length is half a kilometer.
- La Caleta is about 1 km long and is located near the historic center.
- La Malagueta is one of the most visited beaches near the port. It has a length of about 1200 meters.
Málaga is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was founded by the Phoenicians in the first millennium BC. Since the 3rd century BC Malaga was one of the colonies of the Roman Empire. In the 5th century the city was conquered by the Visigoths, and in the 6th century by Byzantium. In the 7th century Málaga was conquered by the Arabs, under whom it became one of the most prosperous cities of the Iberian Peninsula.
The Panorama of the City
In the 9th century Malaga became the capital of the Muslim kingdom. At the end of the 15th century the city was annexed to the Castilian crown. In the 19th century Malaga experienced an industrial boom that turned it into one of the largest industrial centers of Spain. The next round of development of the city occurred in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, when the beaches of the Costa del Sol became popular.
How to get there
Málaga is one of the main transportation centers of the whole of Andalusia. The airport is located about 10 km from the historic center of the city and is the fourth largest in Spain. The air terminal serves about 13 million passengers a year and connects Malaga with other major cities in Europe and the world. From the airport to the center you can take the bus “A” and the train (departure from the arrival terminal “3”).
The railway station of María Zambrano in Málaga is one of the most important railway junctions in southern Spain. The station is located west of the old town. There are high-speed rail connections to Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. The main bus station is right across the street from the train station. Málaga has regular bus service to most cities in Andalusia and the country.
Malaga is a great city for shopping. The main shopping street is Calle Marqués de Larios. Many stores can be found in the historic center. The market is located north of Alamada.Tax Free can be returned from purchases over 90.90 euros.
Streets of Málaga
Málaga offers a cuisine that blends what the Spanish land and sea provide. The main ingredients of local dishes are fish and seafood, vegetables, meat and fruit. The most traditional thing to eat in Málaga is espetos (fried sardines). In general, there are many dishes where the main ingredient is fried fish. It is worth trying coquinas (clams in wine), local tapas, jamon and sweet wine. The port area and the eastern part of the waterfront are tasty and inexpensive places to eat.
Málaga’s most interesting sights with photos.
The cathedral or Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is one of the best examples of Spanish religious art. The building stands on the site of an ancient Muslim mosque. Construction began in 1530. Construction lasted until the 17th century. North tower is 86 meters high and has an observation deck. The interior of this religious building is also impressive and contains some valuable works of art.
It is definitely worth a walk in the area of the cathedral, where there are charming medieval streets.
Alcazaba is one of the main attractions of Málaga, an ancient Moorish fortress built on the ruins of an ancient Roman bastion. This fortified castle at the foot of Mount Guibralfaro is designed with three contours of defensive walls and 110 towers. The construction of the fortress dates back to the 11th century. Visitors can see some of the remaining mighty towers and walls and visit the beautiful garden. Today there is an archaeological museum and a museum of fine arts.
On top of the Gibraltar mountain above the Alcazaba stands the Moorish castle of the same name, built on the site of an ancient Phoenician lighthouse. This fortified structure was built to house troops and protect them. Now the Castillo de Gibraltar is mostly a mighty ruin with fantastic views of the port and coast. The most visible remains of the fortress are the huge old ramparts. Inside the walls are fragments of buildings and courtyards typical of Islamic architecture.
The Roman Theatre is a legacy of Málaga’s Roman past. It was built during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD. It was in operation until the 3rd century. The grandstands have a 31-meter radius and reach a height of 16 meters (13 rows). The theater was discovered in the mid-20th century.
Picasso Museum is the birthplace of the famous artist and at the same time a museum where 233 of his paintings are on display. It will appeal to all connoisseurs of modern art.
Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Victoria
The Basilica Nuestra Señora de la Victoria is one of the most important churches in Málaga, built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. The religious structure stands on the site where the Catholics laid siege to Málaga during the Reconquista (the process of reclaiming the Pyrenees from the Moors). Among the paintings and sculptures that adorn the basilica, two sculptures of Pedro de Mena and a 15th-century figure of the city’s patron saint stand out.
The Sagrario is an ancient 15th-century church with an impressive Gothic portal and a beautiful altar.
Church of Santiago
The Church of Santiago is considered the oldest church in Málaga. Its construction began in 1490 on the site of a mosque. The central entrance is in the Mudejar style. The square tower was completed in the 16th century (it was originally conceived as a minaret). Inside there are three naves with valuable works by Alonso Cano and Niño de Guevara.
Church of St. John the Baptist
The Church of St. John the Baptist is one of the oldest Christian parishes in Málaga, founded at the end of the 15th century. The church was significantly rebuilt after an earthquake in 1680. Interestingly, the tower provides access to the side aisle of the church.
Street of St. Augustine
St. Augustine Street is one of the oldest streets in Málaga. After the Christian conquest, palaces and houses of knights were built here on the foundations of old Muslim buildings. You can also find a Moorish quarter here. Originally the street was called Knights’ Street, but after the construction of the Augustinian monastery the name was changed.
The Bishop’s Square
The Bishops’ Square is one of the main squares of the city. The 18th century Bishops’ Palace and a stone fountain from the same period are located here.
The Square of Mercy is one of the most beautiful squares in Málaga. In the center there is an obelisk. Since the 15th century the market was located here. It is also where Pablo Picasso took his first steps in art.
Plaza de la Constitución
The Plaza de la Constitución has been one of the centers of city life since the conquest of Málaga by the Christians. At that time it was known as the Square of the Four Streets. Here ends the main street of the city and there are the town hall, the Augustinian monastery and several other places of interest.
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Malaga in a breeze: sightseeing by Segway
See the main sights on a breezy high-speed tour and get a new experience