Malaga < Back
The province of Malaga is located in the south of the Mediterranean coast, between the provinces of Granada and Cadiz, and bordering the provinces of Cordoba and Seville in the north.
The capital city is Málaga.
The history of this province has taken place between the sea and the mountains. Its capital was a witness to the economic and cultural boom of the western Mediterranean. The town known as Malaka by the Phoenicians was transformed into a prosperous commercial centre. After the Muslim invasion of the 8th century, the territory became Arabised and later became part of the Nasrid kingdom in Granada, when it underwent a new period of commercial and cultural prominence. In the 19th century, the iron and steel industries of los Larios and the commercialisation of its wines provided significant economic development for the province. After decades of economic downturn, Malaga underwent rapid economic growth in the second half of the 20th century, thanks to the tourist industry. Each year millions of citizens from all over the world choose this idyllic land to relax on its sun-drenched beaches, discover its rich architectural heritage or explore the wild beauty of its mountain geography.
The province of Málaga has over 160 kilometres of coastline. A total of 14 districts are located directly on the Mediterranean Sea. You can find secluded enclaves set in unspoilt nature, as well as more established tourist resorts. The beaches in both the eastern and the western part of the province are so attractive they have made the Costa del Sol one of the top international destinations. Also a must is the landscape inland, with more than 15 officially protected areas classified as nature reserves, natural spaces or natural landmarks. Places that may be either in the depths of the Mediterranean or on the highest peaks. Magical forests and rivers where you can still find foxes, golden eagles and Spanish ibex.
Visitors will find endless gastronomic delights on the coast of Malaga. Small fish (anchovies, red mullet, mackerel, squid and baby squid) served fried are the hallmark dish in a cuisine which is characterised by its simple presentation and its exquisite tastes. The prawns from the bay, the clams and the boiled or grilled Dublin Bay prawns all have a special flavour. In the interior of the province you will find delicious cured meats and hearty fare: kid with garlic, fried kid, hare... There are countless recipes for gazpacho in Malaga: ajoblanco (with garlic and almonds), porra antequerana, gazpachuelo (with fish)... The locally-produced wines, made from raisins and muscatel grapes, and the Pedro Ximénez sweet wine are internationally renowned.
Exhibits at the museum chart Picasso’s progress from the late-19th century until his death in 1973. Situated at the Palacio de Buenavista in the heart of the old town, the museum is a few minutes away from the house where Picasso was born on Plaza de la Merced (also open to the public as a museum). At least one temporary exhibition is usually running, and there is a good shop selling books and gifts as well as a pleasant courtyard café.
Standing on the site of Malaga’s main mosque, the cathedral was begun in the 16th century. However, one of the towers was never completed, resulting in the lop-sided effect you see today. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements reflect the long period of construction. Inside, have a look at the carved choir stalls and the two 18th-century organs, as well as sculpture by Pedro de Mena and a painting by Alonso Cano.
Strategically situated overlooking the sea and the city, the Alcazaba is a fortress, built in the 11th century by Malaga’s Arab rulers, which also served as a palace. Inside there is an archaeological museum where exhibits include Roman mosaics and Moorish ceramics. Parts of the structure are reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada.
Rising above the Alcazaba is the Gibralfaro castle, built in the 14th century to protect the fortress. There is an exhibition area charting its history inside. The outdoor café is a great place to enjoy the panoramic views.
At the foot of the Alcazaba hill is a Roman amphitheatre, which dates back to 1BC and was discovered by chance in 1951. Parts of the tiered seating, the stage and access corridors have survived.
Carmen Thyssen Málaga Museum
The museum occupies the 16th-century Palacio de Villalón in the centre of the city, and displays the collections of the widow of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. Most of the works on display are from the 19th century, with the emphasis on Andalusian art. Artists include Zurbarán, Sorolla and Romero de Torres.
CAC Contemporary Art Centre
Malaga’s contemporary art museum has gained quite a reputation internationally for the quality of its exhibitions. Spanish artists in the permanent collection include Miquel Barceló, José María Sicilia and Juan Muñoz, while international names include Louise Bourgeois, Frank Stella and Tony Cragg. There are usually at least two temporary exhibitions running. Good shop, restaurant and café.
La Concepción Botanic Garden
Rated as one of the best botanic gardens in Europe, La Concepción is a tropical paradise which combines formal gardens with a lush green forest. Created in the mid-19th century by an aristocratic couple, Jorge Loring Oyarzábal and his English wife Amalia Heredia Livermore, the gardens fell into decline but have been restored to their former glory by Malaga City Council. Following the basic route takes around an hour and a half, but you could easily spend all day there.
St George’s Cemetery, to give it its proper name, was built in the 19th century to provide a burial place for foreigners who died in Malaga, and was the first Protestant cemetery in Spain. Strolling through the Romantic-style gardens, looking at the names on the tombs, is an evocative way to learn about Malaga’s history and links with Great Britain.
This dynamic museum is located in the spectacular setting of an old tobacco factory. There are more than 80 vehicles, dating from the end of the 19th century to the present day. There is fashion and art on display, too, including the exhibition From Balenciaga to Schiaparelli, with hundreds of vintage hats and handbags.
Malaga has a wine culture dating back thousands of years, and it’s about time the wines produced in the region came back into fashion. Learn all about it in this museum in a Baroque 18th-century town house, then get down to some tasting.
Set on seven hills below the Sierra Nevada, Granada is nothing if not dramatic. Situated 75 miles north-east of Malaga, the city is dominated by the vast complex of the Alhambra, where the stunning palaces, fortress and gardens form one of the best examples of Islamic architecture and craftsmanship in the world. If you are travelling independently, be sure to buy tickets in advance via alhambra-patronato.es. General admission €15.40. Alsina Graells operates a frequent bus service from Malaga to Granada. The journey takes one-and-a-half hours on the fastest bus and costs €22.84 return.
Twenty-eight miles north of Malaga, Antequera has an astonishingly rich heritage, including some of the most important Neolithic dolmens in Europe, Roman sculpture and a cluster of Renaissance and Baroque churches. Today it is an attractive and lively provincial town with plenty of cafés and shops. If you are not on an organised excursion, Antequera is easy to reach by high-speed train (renfe.com). Be sure to get the Avant service, which costs around €16 return, rather than the Ave, which costs more than twice as much and takes the same time (25 minutes).