OCTOBER 22-23: Malaga in the rain!

Posted on Mar 01, 2012 in category

Ronda’s high average annual rainfall caught up with us on our departure down the mountain to Malaga. Talk about storm and tempest! An angry Jupiter was busy with his bolts of lightning!! Accordingly, our journey in ‘The Bomb’ was slower than usual. Spanish roads are excellent so there was no major holdup en route to Malaga although we heard later that three foreign tourists were killed nearby due to the heavy downpour.

Malaga or Malaka was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C. on the slopes of the mount of the Alcazaba. A metallurgy industry quickly developed in addition to salting fish and meat. Purple dye was also a lucrative business from the Tyrian murex shells. The Carthaginians dominated the city from the 6th century B.C. who were finally defeated by the Romans (2nd Punic Wars late 3rd century B.C.). The Romans called the town ‘Malaca’ giving the town a federated city status or ‘civitas foederata’ (allied state). In A.D.711 Malaga fell to the Arabs and became part of the Cordoba emirate. From A.D.11th century the town came under the control of the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. A.D.1487 saw Malaga turned over to the Christian armies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Malaga’s Alcazaba was built in the mid 10th century A.D. In the 14th century A.D. the citadel appeared in the chronicles of Ibn al-Jadib:

“ The citadel sits high on the top of a hill as if on a throne.

God has placed it in an excellent situation.

Its walls are doubled, its minaret is at the summit of a blessed mountain,

its towers are built close to each other,

its stairways are steep and its gates are well defended.



A Roman theatre is in the foreground with the Alcazaba reigning over it as if “on a throne”.


Limestone is used extensively throughout the Alcazaba’s construction which is prone to crumble over time. King Badis, the King of Granada in the Taifa era (A.D1040-1065), was its biggest patron of fortified expansion whilst 14th century A.D. additions are largely represented in the palace today. Extensive restoration work was carried in A.D.1930 under the instructions of Professor L. Torres Balb├ís.



The first defensive tower and gateway for visitors called “Puerta de la Boveda’ (Gate of the Vault)



'Puerta de la Columnas’ gate with Roman columns and capitals used in construction.


Four main patios are consecutively aligned to impress visitors: ‘Patio de los Surtidores’ (Jets of Water), ‘Patio de los Naranjos’ (Orange Trees), ‘Patio de la Alberca’ (Pool) and ‘Patio del Aljibe’ (Reservoir) all mostly of Nasrid origins in the 13th-14th centuries.



‘Patio de los Surtidores’ with some jets in operation.



A section of the same ‘Patio de los Surtidores’ with horseshoe arches



‘Patio de los Naranjos’ (Orange Tree courtyard) with a reconstructed water feature



‘Patio de la Alberca’ (Pool) with its green and white Moorish ceramic tiles


A special bonus inside the palace is a small museum with artefacts found in situ and in Malaga town.



A highly decorated well cover from the Nasrid era (14th century A.D.) found in the town of Malaga.



An Alcazaba artefact (11-14th centuries A.D.)



A child’s toy house (15th century A.D.) found in Malaga township.



Evidence of good drainage in the Alcazaba as well as our rainy day in Malaga.


Malaga is an attractive city with a good blend of the old and the new. People were out in droves tonight shopping, drinking coffee in the plazas and guzzling beers and sherries in the bodegas. Again we were lucky to come across a  legendary tapas bar, ‘Bodegas el Pimpi’ peppered with photo frames and famous signatures.



A short break before venturing out to find ‘Museo Picasso’


Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in A.D.1881 and lived in Malaga until 10 years of age. His father was an art curator and artist who moved around Spain. For a good chronology of Picasso’s life see: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/picasso/education/ed_timeline.html

Picasso’s family has helped to create this museum in the ‘Palacio de Buenavista’ which has Mudejar and Renaissance architectural features (16th. century A.D.) and is beautifully restored including the purchase of many neighbouring houses from the old Jewish quarter.. The museum was a disappointment in terms of the quality and variety of Picasso works on display and the lack of English to explain the works. A lot of exhibition space was devoted to a relatively unknown artist who influenced some of Picasso’s work. However, the basement of this building has a big bonus: a display of restored foundations of buildings and artefacts from the Phoenician, Roman and Arabic periods.


A Roman Imperial lamp of the 1st-2nd centuries A.D.



Roman remains of a salazones (salting factory) for producing fish sauce called ‘garum’ in the basement of ‘Museo Picasso Malaga’.



Malaga’s Cathedral or ‘One Armed Woman’ so-called because the second bell tower was never completed.

Time and the weather finally defeated us in Malaga. It is a city that seems progressive, clean and energised, a city one could drop a coin in a fountain in order to return.












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