Beautiful large squares and gardens, monuments in different artistic styles, and marvellous examples of the Muslim civilisation, await those who walk around the city centre, stroll along the seafront promenade to enjoy the sea breeze, or take a ride on a sightseeing bus.
The close relationship between the city of Málaga and Pablo Ruiz Picasso dates back to 1861, when the painters was born at number 36, Plaza de la Merced (24), in a house rend by his parents, José Ruiz Blanco and Maria Picasso López. Housing the Foundation (25) which bears the name of the painter, the house is also an important Documentation Centre which exhibits some of his works. Baptised in the baroque Parish Church of Santiago (23), he attended the San Rafael school, but always found time to play in the Plaza next to this house, a place with a long history which was the site of the public markt in the 15th century, becoming later, in the 19th century a place of leisure for the bourgeoisie.
The nascent artist in the youthful Picasso drank in all the atmosphere of the city, its personalities, and colour. His father took him to see the famous bullfighters of the day, in places such as the Malagueta Bullring (2), built nexto to the seafront in 1874, and this would be a repeated theme in his bullfighting scenes. Also as a young child he attended both the San Telmo Fine Arts School, where his father gave classes in geometrical drawing, and the Artistic and Literary Lyceum, which is nowadays the María Cristina Royal Conservatory of Music.
There is no doubt that Picasso took these memories with him when his family moved to La Coruña and that they later influenced his artistic work. The admiration that he had for his native city never diminished and he always dreamed of giving to Malaga what it had given to him. It is a dream that has finally come true with the recently opened Picasso Malaga Museum (21).
October 2003 was an important month for art lovers the world over, but especially for Malaga for it was then that the much heralded Picasso Malaga Museum was opened. It covers some 8,000 m2 and contains 200 works by the great artist. These include paintings, drawings, sculptures, and etchings, wich are on permanent loan, having been donated by his sister in law Chirstine Ruiz-Picasso and his grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. These invaluable pieces, some of which are on display to the public for the first time, are housed in both the main part of the museum, the restored Palace of Buenavista, and in side galleries which also show temporary exhibitions. As a whole, it presents chronologically the different stages in the work of Malaga´s favourite son.
The gardens of Pedro Luis Alonso with their cypress hedges and the murmur of water in the pools and fountains is the starting point for this walk through the city and its monuments, ending up at the Town Hall (7), with its façade of allegorical sculptures, and the 19th century neo-classical Palace of La Aduana (10). This was built following the style of there naissance Italian palaces, and later became a residence for the Royal Family. Today it is used as a Government Office. Calle Alcazabilla leads to the emblematic Plaza de la Merced (24), a square also known as the Plaza de Riego, after a prominent General who lived there, which is the site of one of Malaga´s most important public monuments: an obelisk in honour of Torrijos. Nearby are the Cervantes Theatre (28) the venue for the Film Festival, the original Doll´s House Museum (26) and the Casa del Angel Restaurant-Museum.
The construction of the Cathedral of La Encarnación (16) built over the old Main Mosque, took from the 16th to the 18th centuries and was carried out by prestigious artists such as Diego de Siloé, Enrique Egas or Diego de Vergara. Called "La Manquita", because one of the towers has never been completed, it is interesting for this mixture of styles: the façade is late baroque, the ground plan gothic, and the walls renaissance. Of special interest are the choir stalls, with 42 sculptures by Pedro de Mena and two magnificent organs from the 17th century, as well as a collection of sacred art which are displayed in the Cathedral Museum (17).
Also of considerable interest along our route is the Church of El Sagrario (19), with its plateresque altarpiece, and red marble pulpit, as well as the Episcopal Palace (18), which houses the Diocesan Museum.
Around Calle Marqués de Larios, one of the main commercial arteries of the city, are a multitude of churches, museums, and convents. From the Plaza de la Constitución, the Moorish Main Square - heart of the city since ancient times, we walk onwards and take in the Casa del Consulado (33), the Church of El Santo Cristo de la Salud (32) - a perfect example of the Spanish mannerist style, the Church of Los Santos Mártires (30)- with valuable paintins and pieces in silverwork, and the 18th century Church of San Felipe Neri - with its beautiful awning of polychrome marbles.
After visiting the Museum of Arts and Customs (36), situated in the old Mesón de la Victoria, and the Church of San Juan (35), one of the four places of worship founded by the Catholic Monarchas following the reconquest of the city in 1487, we find ourselves at the Central Market, built on the remains of the old Atarazanas (37), from which it took its name. Our stroll through traditional Malaga ends at the Church of Santo Domingo(45) and the museums dedicated to the religious brotherhoods of La Esperanza (44) and la Expiración (42).
The ancient city of Malaga, founded by the Phoenicians, who named it Malaka, as is shown by the archaeological remains found beneath the Picasso Museum, was later populated by various different cultures, which also left their imprint. This legacy is mostly concentrated around the oldest part of the city, where the Roman Theatre from the 1st century BC (11), and the Alcazaba (8) are to be found.
Palace - fortress of the Muslim governors, the Alcazaba (8) was constructd mainly in the 11th century, thanks to the efforts of Badis, the Ziri King of Granada. Perched on a hill, it has two walled precincts. To the first, access is gained via the Tower of El Cristo, which leads to the gardens of the Parading Ground. The palace, with its beautiful courtyards such as Los Surtidores, Los Naranjos, and La Alberca, and a number of houses, are inside the upper precinct, strongly guarded by the Gate of Puerta de Los Cuartos de Granada (Gate) and the keep. A hill leads to the Castle of Gibralfaro (5), also of Moorish origin and constructed in the 14th century. Arabic texts mention a rábita or oratory which stood on its summit and also talk of the great cemetery which was once located on its base. Inside is an Interpretation Centre (6). Gardens Beside the sea.
The beauty of its parks and gardens, along with the number and variety of walks and leisure reas make Malaga a perfect place to discover on foot. The Alameda, the main access to the centre, leads to the Plaza de la Marina, a square with elegant modern buildings and grand fountain. It is situated nex to the Malaga park (1) which ends in Plaza del General Torrijos.
Its design, typical of Mediterranean gardens, following the initiation of the projet by the Marqués de Larios, was developed by architects such as Rivera, Guerrero, Strachan, and Crooke , but finally carried out by Rucoba. It is of great botanical value and contains plant species from all the five continents: the Dragon Tree from the Canaries, Bamboos, blue-coloured Argentinean Jacarandas, the Australian Fire Tree, the Souht African Bird of Paradise , and the original Ficus - with is also to be found in the Picasso Gardens. The statue of El Cenachero, which represents the typical Malagan fish seller, stands in the Plaza de la Marina, nex to the Paseo Marítimo (avenue) . Well worth a visit is the newly opened Centre for Contemporany Art (40), which has a valuable and collection of works, comprising more than 300 pieces, by artists such as Chillida and Tápies, amongst others. We are now in the zone of La Malagueta, with its well known beach and its wide range of restaurant and leisure facilities.
Situated in the of the basin of the same name and surrounded by rich natural areas such as the Montes de Malaga or the estuary of the River Guadalhorce, which provides a home for thousands of migratory birds, the history of the capital of the Costa del Sol starts on the sea, with the first navigators who sailed the Mediterranean from the far East and landed on its coast. Today the city is the second most important destination for cruise liners in Spain whilst its airport receives visitors from all over the world and tis comprehensive transport network is used by many who choose the city to organise congresses and conventions.
The ancient Málaga, its historic centre, with squares such as that of La Merded - the birthplace of Picasso, the Alcazaba, the Roman Theatre or the churches, blends with a more modern city which is the result of the 60´s urban development, with romantic gardens such as those of the Finca de la Concepcion, on the outskirts. Both parts benefit however from the beaches, small coves, traditional fishermen´s houses and, naturally, the delicious pescaito (fried fish).
Although perhaps one name stands out above all others as Malaga´s main cultural attraction - the brilliant painter Pablo Ruiz Picasso, the city also boasts of numerous museum dedicated to a wide range of other themes. The religious theme is best represented in the Cathedral (E-5) and Religious Art (F-6) museums, but others include: the Museum of Popular Arts and Costumes (E-a), the Municipal Museum (F-7), the Centre of Contemporany Art (G-3), the Antonio Ordóñez Bulfighting Museum (G-4), which is the only centre for the protection of endangered marine species in Andalusia, and the Principia Scientific Centre, which includes a Planetarium. Also interesting is the Doll´s house Museum (E-6), which exhibits an unusual collection of miniatures houses dating from different periods.
The fresh fish and shellfish which are landed in the city´s port undoubtedly form the basis of the delicious local cuisine which includes popular dishes such as the cazuela de fideos, sardine espetos (skewers), rice a la marinera, or boquerones victorianos (with fresh anchovies), as well as other more traditional specialities such as ajoblanco con uvas, gazpachuelo, sopa malagueña….which can all be washed down with delicious, locall produced, muscatel wines.
There are still many craftsmen who continue producing typical Malagan pottery, traditional lanterns, and artistic lamps. Locally produced wrought ironwork pieces are much in demand internationally and many can be found decorating the palaces and residences of rich Arab Sheiks.
The festive calendar begins in Malaga with numerous cultural activities which come under the heading of Winter Fiestas. These include the Carnival and then carry on into March, with the Burial of the Anchovy and bonfires on the Malagueta Beach.
During the long awaited Easter Weak there are beautiful processions and parades which pass through the monumental centre. The city is at is best to receive the solemn effigies of El Cautivo, the Cristo de la Buena Muerte, accomplanied by the Legion which lands in the Port, and Nuestro Padre Jesús "El Rico", an effigy of Christ which according to tradition, grants the right for an inmate to be released from prison every year. The Malaga Film Festival in April inaugurates activities in the Cervantes Theatre and is followed by a full calendar of prestigious events throughtout the year, such as the City Philharmonic Orchesta season, the Música del Paríso Festival, and the Jazz Festival.
The May Crosses, Corpus Christi, and the Night of San Juan are all festivities which mark the transition from Spring to Summer, and avobe all draw us nearer to the Feria of Malaga, in August, which includes a floral tribute to the Patron Saint in the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Victoria. As well as the so-called daytime Feria, which takes place in the old centre, with parades of horses and coaches, there is also a bullfighting season with corridas in La Malagueta and the night time Feria at the Real Cortijo de Torres. The Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales, held on the Day of Los Santos Inocentes (the Spanish equivalent of April´s fool day) in the Port Tower, at the Venta San Cayetano, marks the end of a week furing which groups of verdiales parade around the city singing traditional songs. At the end of the week, ther is a big event in which the groups compete against each other.