I love Spain! It is my favourite country in Europe. If I were to add up all the days I spent this year in Spain it would be one-and-a-half months between Costa Brava (Barcelona, Montserrat, Girona, Figueres, Lloret and Tossa del Mar), the amazing Basque Country (San Sebastian and Bilbao), Mallorca and now Malaga and Ronda.
Malaga is one of the most underrated cities in the whole country. Just like Bilbao And like Bilbao it has used culture for an extreme city makeover. Even I was pleasantly surprised. I haven’t visited for a while (7 years) and I couldn’t believe how it has been primped up.
Chic cafes, trendy boutiques and excellent wine bars pop out on every corner of the small cobble-stoned streets of the Old Town. It makes it so alluring to just stroll around because you have to know one thing about Malaga.
Regardless of all the sites you can admire here, Malaga is a city made for taking it easy, sinking into the atmosphere and experiencing Spain as the Spanish people do. By the way, the people here are amazing – so nice and so welcoming. Hardly anybody speaks English, but that doesn’t interfere with having full conversations or getting great recommendations about city restaurants.
Malaga is a lively, enticing city with a rich historical heritage, great beaches and a superb tapas culture. It is a city of 1001 ‘la tascas’ and is renowned for its fish and seafood treats. In its amazing traditional taverns you can drink Malaga’s sweet wine dispensed straight from wooden barrels elbow-to-elbow with the locals – all of this adds spice to this vibrant and fiesta-loving city.
It is known for the 3 F’s… no, no, nothing rude you depraved mind! The 3 F’s stands for festival, flamenco and fun!
The city is full of sights that are worth your time. Starting from such landmarks as the cathedral which has a unique golden glow – La Manquita (the little one-armed lady) has only one tower and incorporates Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classical styles due to a very long period of construction. It boasts interiors with 18th-century organs, sculptures by Pedro de Mena, paintings by Alonso Cano, a Gothic altar and the famous statue of the Virgin Mary presented by the King and Queen after the city was reclaimed from the Moors.
Another amazing sight is an 11th-century fortress – a magnificent vestige of the seven centuries of the Moors’ presence – which rambles across a hill. You can admire Roman mosaics and Moorish ceramics while strolling between fragrant orange trees, bougainvilleas and keyhole arches.
Rising above the Alcazabra is the Gibralfaro Castle, built in the 14th century to protect the fortress that served as a palace then. Gibralfaro crowns the top of the hill overlooking the city and the sea. The views are awe-inspiring, the beach, the sea, the port, the bullring called La Malagueta (once, seven years ago, I saw my first corrida there).
Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and there are two museums in the city paying tribute to Malaga’s most famous son. The Picasso Museum, housed in the 16th-century Mudéjar Palacio de Buenavista, exhibits Picasso’s progress from the late 19th century until his death in 1973, whereas the house where Picasso was born and grew up in Plaza de la Merced exhibits everyday life items, photographs, documents and the works of his father.
Do not miss any of these, especially the views from Gibralfaro are worth the effort of climbing up and, endowed with such assets, Malaga is more than just a gateway, it’s a destination in its own right.
But to really understand the soul of the city you need to wander around the beautiful Old Town and admire the stunning architecture. Shop for fruits and cheese in the Ataranzas Market, which occupies one of the most unique urban buildings of Malaga – a surprisingly successful mix of 14th-century Moorish architecture and 19th-century industrial design. And contemplate Damien Hirst’s provocative art in CAC.
Have a drink in one of the posh bars and restaurants in the port, eat in the jam-packed tapas bars, stroll along palm-fringed avenues and party like there is no ‘manana’ Ok, ok! Only on the nights when there is no general strike! Yes, I was in Malaga during the general strike that was being held in the whole country.
The strike was to begin right at midnight, therefore that evening we were very politely asked to pick up our tab before midnight and go back to the hotel. I know, I know, it is totally unacceptable, especially in Spain, to go back before 4am. But indeed, to support the general idea of the strike, we did.
The next day was slightly more painful but still very peaceful. In general, I was impressed with the organisation, logistics and police patrols, which did not interfere or try to calm the strikers down. Only some places were open and the protesters were all over the place chanting their slogans and songs, demanding that those few bars and shops close down. Luckily for us they didn’t and I could enjoy my champagne and some red wine.
I totally support the Spanish people, and I can only imagine how frustrating the lack of perspectives must be, especially for young people, but as a visitor I had no other choice.
In the evening the protesters walked in an enormous march down the city’s streets, and here is another funny story! The whole area around my hotel was blocked, as Alameda Principal and Paseo Parque were along the way of the march, and I had been advised to walk over to the Old Town and to seek a taxi on the Plaza Merced.
After walking down a few streets I couldn’t help thinking something is not right….there were thousands of people everywhere, this area of the city is always busy but not like this…after recalling the topography of the centre I understood that Plaza Merced would be the final end of the march, thank you hotel staff.
After reaching the square it was like watching a film, it was black with policemen and helicopters flying over flashing lights on the people…I wasn’t afraid about sth bad happening, but I was afraid I would never manage to cross the square to get to the restaurant. But, as we all know, luck is always on my side. This time in the shape of a very handsome policeman speaking great English who guided me through the crowd lol. Lucky me, because it would have been a shame to miss a superb dinner in the Montana restaurant I had that evening.