Admit it: The only part of Malaga you know is the road to and from the airport. True, it is an impressive airport, but Malaga is far more than just a hub for accessing some of Europe’s most popular beaches and golf courses. Next time you pick up your rental car from Malaga Airport, head to the old city centre for some surprising discoveries.
Park your hire car for a while and explore inner-city Malaga’s Moorish attractions. With a commanding position overlooking the sea and the city, the Alcazaba
is a former 11th-century Arab fortress and palace reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada. It houses a museum displaying Roman mosaics and Moorish ceramics, and the wonderfully preserved complex features more than 100 towers, 3 palaces, and several gardens.
Follow the medieval Arab theme by paying a visit to Gibralfaro Castle
, which was constructed in the 14th century and is connected to the Alcazaba via conduits between two of its towers. Located on a hill on the site of a Phoenician lighthouse, Gibralfaro is a mashup of the Arab word for hill (yabal) and the Greek word for lighthouse (faruh).
The Arabs were not the first to lay claim to Malaga. Long before they arrived, the Romans decided to make themselves at home. The Roman Theatre
, also in the old inner city, was constructed during the reign of Emperor Caesar Augustus, but it remained concealed for centuries and was only rediscovered in 1951. Today, you can see the entrance gallery to the proscenium or stage, part of the orchestra area, and the vomitorium (seriously).
The birthplace of the 20th century’s most famous artist, Malaga has an impressive Picasso museum
, which was updated in late 2010, so now you have access to an even wider selection of Pablo Picasso’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and engravings. Situated at the Palacio de Buenavista in the centre of the old town, the museum is very near the house where Picasso was born on Plaza de la Merced (also open to the public as a museum).
Museo Carmen Thyssen
Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza is one of the world’s leading art collectors, and now she even has her own museum. Launched in March 2011, Museo Carmen Thyssen
showcases 230 works from the baroness’ personal collection. Showcased in an elegant, 16th-century palace at the heart of Malaga’s historic centre, it dedicates three of its four floors to a permanent collection exploring the romanticisation of Spain from the mid-19th century.
For an alternative approach to lunch, visit the Atarazanas Market. Housed in an opulently embellished Moorish shipyard, this market is unlike any other food market you have ever visited. You will come across fish that has just stopped swimming, fruit bursting with juice and still warm from the Spanish sunshine, and freshly pickled olives. The atmosphere is unique too, with a vibrant buzz emanating from spirited shoppers vying for the best produce. This is a foodie experience you will remember.