The Alcazaba of Málaga
It amazes me sometimes how Málaga’s city centre is not celebrated much more in travel blogs and Instagram pages. Especially given how accessible it is, with cheap flights into Málaga’s airport daily and its mild, sunny winters and not too oppressive hot summers.
“I think Málaga is quite the unsung star of Europe.”
This city pretty much has it all yet is much more humble and assuming than other beach-cities, Barcelona for example. Varied high street shopping, independent boutique and vintage stores, all types of restaurants you could imagine, modern bars and taverns of the past. Add to this the beach and sea, a super-attractive harbour, plenty of museums and art galleries, historical ruins and a generally positive, happy and inviting vibe- and most of all it is so affordable! I think Málaga is quite the unsung star of Europe.
The following highlights are certainly not an exhaustive list of all Málaga has to offer but form something of a whistle-stop tour through some of my own personal favourites which make this city just so lovely. ❤
Alcazaba of Málaga
The photo above is of the Alcazaba (which means citadel), built in the 11th century by the Hammudid dynasty (Berberised Arab Muslims) and can be found on the city’s periphery. It frames the port and if you climb up the sprawling steps, you will be rewarded with that lovely airy blue view. It served as a fortress protecting the city all those centuries ago but now provides the visitor with attractive floral gardens and an excellent vantage point for seeing the city from above.
On a sunny day, this is a delight. Unlike many other harbours, this does not have any hint of pretentiousness or extortionate expense. Rather, the contrary! Market stalls in little wooden huts line the banks selling jewellery, floaty beach wear and hippy skirts, incense sticks and garden decorations amongst many other trinkets.
Bars and restaurants are plentiful here and cost the same as any average meal in Spain. We ate at one place with a dock view which allowed you to order from any of the four connecting restaurants- Mexican, Indian, Greek and Argentinian. This place goes by the name of Amigos and our meal of shared Indian and Mexican food along with a couple of glasses of wine came to 36 euros and I cannot imagine many dockside restaurants being so reasonably priced (ok, maybe in my home city of Liverpool too at the Albert Dock!).
The jewel in the crown here though is the Centre Pompidou art gallery.
Shoppers queuing up for market stalls at (a very sunny) Christmas
Living in Córdoba where the shopping can be somewhat limited at times, a shopping trip to Málaga is very appealing. It has all the usual international chains such as H&M, The Body Shop, Victoria’s Secret etc, along with Spanish favourites such as Massimo Dutti, Mango, Zara, Desigual, Bershka, Primor and Oysho and of course, a massive El Corte Inglés.
I’m always happy to get a chance to shop at L’Occitane and NYX Cosmetics and Lush but struggle to practise self-restraint here, filling up my basket knowing I can’t get hold of these brands back in Córdoba! (Although we are actually getting an NYX Cosmetics this week!)
One of the main shopping hotspots are Calle Larios, the huge high street which is illuminated with a really impressive light show at Christmas, like thousands of shooting stars twinkling above your head. Beware though, it can get ultra crowded here at Christmas to the point where I almost missed my bus back to Córdoba once due to not being able to push against the surge of shoppers. There is also plenty of shopping at Muelle Uno, Málaga Plaza, Vialia Centro Comercial and Factory Outlet.
The Presence of Art and Poetry Everywhere!
The latest art exhibition posters for the Carmen Thyssen Museum hung all along the streets
The Barrio Pozos Dulces adorned with the poetic words of Andaluz poet Luis de Góngora
More poetry from fellow Andaluz poet Federico Garcia Lorca
‘Paz y Libertad’- Peace and Freedom. Urban street art by American artist Shepard Fairey
Just walking through the streets, you are only ever seconds away from being stopped in your tracks by a line of poetry or a poster for an art exhibition and especially, the urban street art. Graffiti of varying levels of quality and profundity is sprayed across much of the backstreets and beyond and while some of it is quite striking, unfortunately some of it is an eye sore.
The huge looming artwork you see above of a woman with fingers intertwined with mandala-esque images and balancing scales literally made me abandon my original walking route as it beckoned me over, hypnotic-like, to take a photo however it is the simple words ‘Paz y Libertad’ which can be seen from quite far away which make the biggest impact in my opinion. A message which should permeate the world, not just Málaga city centre. Interestingly, it was painted by American artist Shepard Fairey who also designed the newest NASA logo!
The poetry you can see in the photos above are lines from Andaluz poets which have been stencilled around the yellow walls of the barrio (neighbourhood) of Pozos Dulces. In what is an otherwise non-descript trail of streets which you would normally take to get to the Carmen Thyssen Museum, these delightful lines of sparky poetry certainly add something to the overall vibe.
The Abundance of Museums and Art Galleries
Málaga deserves to be referred to as a city of art. It offers the following main galleries:
- Carmen Thyssen Museum, Calle Compañía, 10
- Centre Pompidou Málaga, Muelle Uno
- Colección del Museo Ruso, Avenida de Sor Teresa Prat, 15
- Pablo Picasso Museum, Calle San Agustín, 8
- Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Calle Alemania
TIP- Queues for the Pablo Picasso Museum can be ridiculous sometimes so try to visit at off-peak times.
It also offers the following main museums:
- Automobile and Fashion Museum, Avenida de Sor Teresa Prat, 15
- Museum of Glass and Crystal Málaga, Plaza Santísimo Cristo de la Sangre, 2
- Málaga Museum, Plaza de la Aduana
- Interactive Music Museum, Calle Beatas, 15
- Museum of Arts and Popular Customs Málaga, Plaza Enrique García-Herrera, 1
- Málaga Wine Museum, Plaza de los Viñeros, 1
There are actually a lot more smaller galleries and museums to be found which is pretty impressive. If you get the timing right, you might be able to enter for free as I did at the Centre Pompidou because it was Easter Sunday.
Here are a few photos of some art I’ve been fortunate to see in Málaga!
Le Chat Noir by Rodolphe Salis at Museo Carmen Thyssen, Málaga
La Grande Passion by Andy Warhol at Museo Carmen Thyssen
Popeye by Jeff Koons at the Museo Carmen Thyssen
The Fall of Icarus by Marc Chagall at the Centre Pompidou
Le Printemps by Pablo Picasso at the Centre Pompidou
This blog post could seriously have gone on for thousands of words going on about all there is to see but to be honest it would be impossible to cover it all. The best thing to do is jump on the RENFE train if you’re in Spain, jump on a cheap flight from the UK or other country aboard or take the Cercanía (short distance train along the West side of the Costa del Sol) if you are having a beach holiday in Fuengirola, Torremolinos or Benalmádena and spend a delightful day in Málaga’s superb city centre. 🙂