There are some places you just know the minute you set foot there that it’s going to be special.
Malaga is all that and much more, a place where the ancient and the modern coexist beautifully.
Situated on the southern coast of Spain, at the mouth of the Guadalmedina River in the middle of the Costa del Sol region, Malaga is approximately 100 miles northeast of Gibraltar, and an hour flight from Tangier, Morocco.
First settled nearly 2,800 years ago, it is one of the oldest cities in the world.
Numerous cultures have put their stamp on the city since the Phoenicians established the city of Malaka 1100 years before Christ, including the Greeks, then the the Moors. In 211 BC, the Romans came and stayed until the Visagoths arrived in the wake of Rome’s fall. That was followed by eight centuries of Islamic rule, before what would become Spain assumed control in 1487.
Oddly enough, it was only 100 years ago that the old Roman theater ruins, the “Teatro Romano,” was discovered immediately adjacent to what would become the heart of the modern “old city.”
It would be another 450 years before Malaga saw its final battle, during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
With all its history, Malaga has been called “an open museum,” a place where its Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Moorish and Spanish Christian influences lay all about. Add in that this is the birthplace of artistic lion Pablo Picasso, as well as actor Antonio Banderas, and one can understand that this is a unique place.
Immediately behind my hotel is a mammoth Cathedral, centuries old. It towers taller than the 15th floor Terraza of the AC Marriott hotel. My map is unclear exactly what it is called- I’ll bother to look it up tomorrow.
In any event, all that history both blends with and stands apart from the modern day culture of the city, which is, in a word, delightful.
Malaga is not a small city, exactly, with 570,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in Spain. But the old town, where you’ll find all the fun and interesting stuff, is eminently walkable- strollable is a better word to use. You’ll want to wander slowly.
In early January the temperature ranges from the high 50s to low 60s, not summer weather, but sunny and quite comfortable in the day time.
The harbor area is both a scenic delight and a working industrial area, and one doesn’t clash with the other, as odd as that might sound to Americans. Packed trendy restaurants are just across the road from 2,000 year old Roman ruins. A block away from the the “Roman Teatro” is the Picasso Museum; three blocks off is his birthplace.
I wandered about the Old Town for several hours Saturday. I’ll be here through next Friday. Consider this my book report on Malaga. For the next week I’ll explore the town and post more photos here, and maybe more text, before heading to Tangier for the start of my trek through Morocco.
And for the next two days, I’ll continue to enjoy the lofty views from my 8th floor balcony and the spectactular 300 degree city and harbor vistas from the hotel’s 15th floor Terraza.