Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sights worth seeing in Malaga


Malaga city centre

I go to Malaga every now and then as my family on my mother's side comes from Malaga and most of them still live there. And after not having visited for two years, I went to Malaga for a long weekend last November and I was actually very excited about that trip. A cousin of mine had just had a baby, Boyfriend was coming with me for the first time and we were sharing our happy baby news. Oh, and the absolute highlight of the visit, my grandma was turning a hundred years old. Let me rewrite that with numbers, a 100 years old! That's an amazing lot of years to live and most amazingly she's still perfectly fine.

As usual, it was a rather stressful trip, always running from one house to another and having one meal just after another. We had barely any time left for sightseeing and let me tell you, Boyfriend wasn't impressed with the few places we managed to see during our brief, hectic time there. I'm going to be 100% honest in here. I'm not particularly a big fan of Malaga either, as I've always found the city rather lousy and filthy. And it is not as pretty as some other Andalusian cities, which often make it higher on the touristic trails. Besides, it is terribly warm during the summer (seriously, 30°C at midnight is not my idea of a good night sleep). Though coming from Ireland it felt way too nice to have 25°C in the middle of November.


Malaga plaza de toros

With a population over half million, Malaga is a rather big city and it always seems to be under construction - the city centre has been half closed since years due to the construction works of two lines of underground. Besides, many historical houses have undergone renovation works to host new museums and some parts of the city have been completely rebuilt from scratch. Maybe one day all those construction works will be over, every crane will disappear and there will be less pollution and air contamination. Maybe then Malaga will be a more tourist-friendly city with a pretty face to greet visitors and residents alike. Until then, here's a list of worthy sights, despite the noise and dust that hangs in the air most of the time.



Alcazaba

Most of the Iberian Peninsula was once a Muslim territory and there are many buildings left from those Moorish times, specially in Andalusia. Granada has the Alhambra palace, Cordoba the renowned Mosque and Malaga has the Alcazaba. Built in the 11th century, the Alcazaba was both a palace and a fortress standing on a small hill right in the city centre and overlooking the coast. It is possible to visit and enjoy the restored patios and rooms with its characteristic fountains, geometrical designs on tiled walls and floors and characteristic arched doors. The gardens not only offer a respite from the noisy traffic but also provide superb views of the city centre on a clear day and looms just above the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre.


Cathedral

Spain (and Europe) is full of magnificent cathedrals that usually date back to the Middle Ages. Malaga is no exception, though construction works started already later in the Renaissance, after the city had been returned to Spanish hands. Unlike many other somber cathedrals in Europe, Malaga Cathedral is a rather luminous building with many parts made of marble. Construction took nearly two hundred years but the Cathedral was never fully finished as only one tower was built instead of the two that were planned. 

Malaga cathedral


Palmeral de las Sorpresas

The pier promenade has been recently restored and a brand-new recreational area was opened only a couple of years ago. Open air gardens with palm trees (as the name suggests, Palm Garden of Surprises) alternate with cafés and still empty units for shops or exhibitions. It is planned that the French Museum Pompidou will open its first branch outside Paris in one of the glass cubes on the promenade. The Palmeral de las Sorpresas has quickly become a very popular spot among locals and visitors and is a laid-back place for a walk and to chill out on a warm day - read when it's 25°C in November - while enjoying the sea breeze and the sight of the renovated port. 


City Centre

Malaga is one of the oldest cities in Spain and has the right credentials to prove it. Old Roman city walls, a Moorish palace and many historical buildings dating from several centuries ago. Plus all the new first class museums that have been opening in recent years. The city centre is a maze of narrow alleys and wider streets with some elegant squares here and there. Part of the city centre is now car-free and besides all the architecture and history, it is also a good shopping area with all kind of small boutiques, high street brands and traditional craft shops. It is also the place to go to have some tapas dinner or a glass of wine or beer, as there are dozens of inviting bars and restaurants, sometimes even with some tables outside if the weather allows.  

Malaga port and city centre


Calle Larios

Right in the city centre, Calle Larios is probably the most elegant street in Malaga. And the most expensive as well. With marble floors and classical buildings with sober facades on both sides, Calle Larios has long been a commercial street. These days, though, it is gearing more towards high end brands but even then, it is the perfect street for a quiet stroll and some window shopping. During the summer Calle Larios is shaded with some veils to tea and keep temperatures nice and low, and from ate November till the beginning of January it is beautifully lit with the best Christmas lights in town and Malaga's big Christmas tree can be found at Plaza de la Constitución, right at the beginning (or end) of Calle Larios. Somewhere in the middle is Malaga's most famous ice-cream parlour, Casa Mira. Founded in the 19th century in Madrid, it is renowned for its traditional Christmas confectionery but, at least in Malaga, they also make some of the best ice-cream in the city with some twenty flavours to try.



Have you ever been to Malaga? Somewhere else in Andalusia?
Any recommendations on what to see and do?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

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