Many tourists bypass Malaga
and go straight for the Costa del Sol holiday resorts, but this Spanish city has several notable visitor attractions including the recently built Picasso Museum and the Gibralfaro Castle. Malaga is also well known for its traditional tapas bars, most of which are to be found around calle Nueva in the old quarter. Tapas specialties include such dishes as fritura malagueno (fried fish dish) and boquerones (small anchovies).
Pablo Picasso, was born in Malaga in 1881 where he spent his early formative years. His birthplace in the Plaza de la Merced is now open to visitors and has displays of some of his personal possessions. The Picasso Museum opened in 2003 and is housed in a former 16th century palace, called the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista. Inside is a display of over 200 pieces assembled by some of the Picasso family, including his daughter in law Christine Ruiz-Picasso. The artworks include original paintings, sketches, sculptures and fine ceramics. Another art museum found in Malaga, that was also opened in 2003, is the CAC which is home to an vibrant collection of contemporary pieces.
In the heart of the city is Malaga Cathedral
which was constructed over the course of several hundred years, resulting in a mix of different architectural styles. In fact only one of the cathedral bell towers was finished, so earning the it the nickname "La Manquita", which can roughly be translated as the "one armed lady". There are several other notable old churches, such as the 15th century Iglesia de Santiago (the baptismal certificate of Picasso is stored here), and the Iglesia San Juan Bautista, with its magnificent 18th century Baroque tower.
Dominating Malaga is the hill top castle, the Castillo de Gibralfaro, constructed during the early 14th century on the site of an ancient Phoenician lighthouse (thus its name which comes from "gebel-faro" which means the "lighthouse on the rock". All that remains of the fortress now are the old walls from which there are amazing views over the town. Near the bottom of the hill is the former Moorish castle La Alcazaba
, which probably dates from the late 7th century AD, although most of the present fort was built about 1050 AD. Inside the Alcazaba are a selection of formal gardens, fountains and courtyards. There is also a small former palace which houses the Malaga Archaeological Museum containing displays of Malaga history
including Phoenician, ancient Roman and Moorish relics. Next door to the Alcazaba are the remnants of an old Roman amphitheatre, which has only been excavated in recent years.
Further east is the English Cemetery, originally founded in 1829 by the then British Consul, William Mark, this was actually the first Protestant cemetary in Catholic Spain. Until this date Protestants were intered on the beaches in the quiet of a dark night. Further north of the city centre is another peaceful haven, the Jardin Botanico La Concepcion, a delightful botanical garden that was started 150 years ago by the British woman Amalia Livermore and her husband.
There is a good transport system, with a regular and efficient trains from the town to Malaga airport
, about 5 miles (or 6 km) from the centre, as well as the other Costa del Sol holiday resorts of Torremolinos, Benalmadena plus Fuengirola. The new AVE fast railway line brings the capital Madrid within about 2 hours and 30 minutes journey time. There is also regular bus service from Malaga to Granada plus Seville, Almeria and the holiday resort of Nerja.