La Costa del Sol.  Malaga, Spain.

The city of Málaga in Southern Spain is the gateway to La Costa del Sol (The Sun Coast) and the beautiful cities of Andalucía.  Most visitors jet off (train off, drive off) to Málaga and quickly make their way to the beaches of Marbella or the Museums of Granada without taking the time to explore this wonderfully layered city.

For our wedding anniversary my husband and I decided to make a wide circle around the south of Spain, but before we could experience the glory of the Al-Andalus we took in sunny, breezy Málaga, her art, her ruins, her food, her wines.

Palacio de Buenavista, which today houses the Picasso Museum.  Malaga, Spain.

Málaga was founded by the Phoenicians (ca. 770 BC) who called her Malaka, in the 6th century it passed under the rule of Carthage and from 218 BC it was ruled by the Romans.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was conquered by the Arabs (moors) who remained until the Christian "reconquista" (the reconquest) in 1487.  The layers of this history can be seen at the Palacio de Buenavista, built in the 16th century over the ruins of a Nazarí Palace (Nasrid, one of the Arab dynasties that ruled Spain) and which today houses the Picasso Museum.

Palacio de Buenavista.  Malaga, Spain.

The Buenavista Palace, once home to the Counts of Buenavista, mixes Renaissance and Plateresque elements with the Mudéjar (the style of the moors that remained in the Iberian Peninsula after the Christian reconquest).  Picasso's works and those of related artists now hang on the walls of the stately rooms.  In the basement of the Palace one can find the foundations of Phoenician towers and walls along with Roman remains and the ancient street level prior to the 16th century.

The Roman theater and the Alcazaba.  Malaga, Spain.

Early morning at the Roman theater.  Malaga, Spain.

Near the Picasso Museum more layers of history can be found: the remains of the ancient Roman theater (above) rests on the side of a hill upon which the 11th century Alcazaba (fortress) was built by King Badis, ruler of Granada.  Facing the Plaza and the Roman ruins is "El Pimpi", a very atmospheric Tapas Bar where one can taste the deliciously sweet Malaga Virgen wine.

The Plaza de la Higuera outside the Picasso Museum.  Malaga, Spain.

Malaga Virgen wine at El Pimpi.  Malaga, Spain.

No trip of ours is ever complete without a little climb, so in the early morning of the day after arriving, John and I made our way towards the hill that guards the city and visited the Alcazaba:

The Ayuntamiento (City Hall) with the Alcazaba in the back.  Malaga, Spain.

The hill path of the Alcazaba.  Malaga, Spain.

The Alcazaba.  Malaga, Spain.

Once one reaches the hill top, the Alcazaba affords wonderful views of the City and the Mediterranean Sea:

The Ayuntamiento against the Mediterranean Sea.  Malaga, Spain.

The Plaza de Toros and the modern city of Malaga.  Malaga, Spain.

The path that surrounds the Alcazaba is full of birdsong and the smell of orange trees and jasmine, which makes for a most pleasant walk.  We made our way down the hill opposite our initial climb, and happened upon the labyrinth of streets that makes up the old Judería (Jewish) quarter.

Balconies in Malaga.  Malaga, Spain.

The church of the Santo Cristo de la Salud seen from the Plaza de la Constitucion.  Malaga, Spain.

The Cathedral tower.

The Judería of Malaga is home to some truly spectacular architecture including the Iglesia de Santiago with its Mudéjar tower, Gothic exterior and Churriguresque interior:

Iglesia de Santiago.  Malaga, Spain.
The most precious of all buildings in Malaga is without doubt the Cathedral.  Occupying the site of a former mosque, it was built between 1528 and 1782; one of its towers is left unfinished, this asymmetry has earned the church the name of "La Manquita", the crippled one.

The Cathedral.  Malaga, Spain.

The Cathedral.  Malaga, Spain.

An entrance at the Cathedral.  Malaga, Spain.
The Cathedral facade with its unfinished tower.  Malaga, Spain.
Walking southeast away from the Cathedral we found the Paseo del Parque, which is lined by a beautiful park and glimpses of the port:

A further walk on the Paseo del Parque took us to La Malagueta, one of Malaga's beaches, where despite being late October the sun shone and warmed the breezes coming off the sea.

La Malagueta.  Malaga, Spain.

La Malagueta.  Malaga, Spain.
On our way back from La Malagueta we stopped by the Plaza de Toros (Bullfighting ring), the fighting season was just over but we still found a few posters advertising the Corridas.  Some of these posters can be very beautiful and after the season is over can become collector's items:

Plaza de Toros La Malagueta.  Malaga, Spain.

Corrida poster.  Malaga, Spain.

We found Malaga wonderfully pleasant, refreshingly local, and full of life, from the impromptu flamenco sessions at the Taperías (Tapas Bars), to the people lingering on the plazas, to the daily exchanges at the market:

El Mercado Atarazanas (The market).  Malaga, Spain.

Mercado Atarazanas.  Malaga, Spain.

Mercado Atarazanas.  Malaga Spain.

Jam session on the Calle de los Afligidos.

Sunday night in Malaga.  Malaga, Spain.

All images by NPL


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