This city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía is the capital of Malaga Province and the largest city on the Costa del Sol. It enjoys the typical Mediterranean climate and is the birthplace of the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Malaga offers the tourist a little of everything from sunny beaches to architectural sites, art museums as well as hiking outside the city in the surrounding hills.
Malaga’s history goes back 3000 years to the time of the Phoenicians who established the city around 770BC. The Phoenicians called the city Malaca (meaning – to salt) and it lived up to its name as it became an important centre for the salting of fish.
The Phoenicians remained until they were supplanted by the Greeks in the 6th century BC who in turn were conquered by the Romans. The Roman Empire colonised Spain in 218BC and ruled for more than six centuries establishing trade in iron, copper and lead from the nearby mines, as well as cultivating vineyards and exporting olive oil.
The Byzantine Empire followed the fall of Rome and was in turn conquered by the Moors in 711AD. The Moorish ruler Yusuf I fearing the Christian invasion, built Gibralfaro as a defence against Isabella and Ferdinand, which as history shows, did not deter them.
Isabella and her court did not bother much with Malaga so the Golden Age of 1500 to 1650 never really touched the area, its influence was mainly in Seville and Cadiz. However, Malaga continued to flourish with the infamous slave trade as its mainstay.
Early in the 19th century along came Napoleon but he was swiftly dealt with by the Duke of Wellington in the Battle of Salamanca in 1812, and everything was set for a return to normal, but when King Ferdinand VII returned from exile in France he implemented a woefully repressive rule which led to many rebellions. After his death in 1833 Malaga experienced an uprush of industrial development as families from the north invested in factories, shipyards, iron-ore foundries, and Malaga’s wine was exported all over Europe and most particularly to Victorian England.
All this peace and prosperity ended with a coup by the Spanish military on July 17, 1936, which quickly escalated into the Spanish Civil War which ended 3 years later with Franco as the new leader of Spain. Most notably Franco oppressed Spain’s Basque and Catalan populations banning their languages and disenfranchising them. He banned trade unions and established a vast network of a secret police. But despite all his misdeeds, Franco did establish Malaga as a tourist destination. Franco was responsible for the building of Malaga airport, and much of the tourist infrastructure of the Costa del Sol.
Today, Malaga the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and the famous actor Antonio Banderas is a city of fiestas, tastes (tapas bars), wine, and plenty of songs. Starting at the Plaza de la Constitución you can take a stroll down marble paved Lario Street heading toward the sea and walk along the Muelle Uno waterfront to the new Pompidou Centre, visit the Picasso Museum and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo and arrive at the Atarazanas market in time for the many Spanish cheeses and fresh produce on display to whet your appetite for lunch in one of the many tascas. Replete and relaxed you can continue on your way to explore the trendy Soho area with its galleries, bars and cafés.