Hmm. Yes. Well. It’s a city and I’m never comfortable in cities: mostly about selling you something and full of people, all living too close to each other. At least that’s how they feel to me, but it seems to suit the majority of humanity, so each to their own I guess.
I cycled into the Old Town via the cycle path alongside the beach: sea and sky on one side, the edge of the suburban hinterland, on the other. It seemed like I was cycling through ‘No Man’s Land’, sandwiched between two implacable forces pressing hard against each other.
[Town Hall, Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro]
As far as I can tell suburban Malaga is essentially a C20th. development that has engulfed the old town which, by contrast, has it’s origins stretching back over several millennia to Phoenician, Malaca, in the C7th. BC, making it one of the world’s oldest cities.
The Phoenicians built a fortress here, now lying under the C8th. Moorish Alcazaba Fortress (and later palace), to protect the harbour and their settlement which was an important fish salting centre. The name ‘Malaca’ may derive from ‘to salt’.
[Malaga Port, City, Bull Ring and Old Town rooftops]
The C6th. BC brought the Greeks and then the Romans in their turn in the late C3rd. BC. The Romans extended the fortifications and built a theatre, while the city grew as an important trading port exporting iron, lead and copper, from mines near Ronda, Garam (fish sauce), wine and olive oil. They stayed for nearly six centuries.
[The Old Moorish Market, now restored]
The Visigoths took Malaga in the late C5th. AD and were superseded briefly by Byzantine rulership, under Justinian – when marble and stone was exported to Byzantium (Constantinople) for the construction of the Sancta Sophia church – until the Moors arrived early in the C8th. AD.
Malaga became the main Moorish port city for Grenada, becoming famous for its figs and wine. The Castillo de Gibralfaro fortress was later built above the Alcazaba as a defence against the Christian forces of the ‘Reconquista’. The city was one of the last Moorish strongholds before it fell, after a siege, in 1487.
If you find yourself in Malaga, put together a picnic and plenty of water and make the climb up into the grounds within the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Find a sunny, or shady, spot and enjoy your meal and the views: it’s well worth the effort!