Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Alcazaba’

Malaga | A Postcard from Malaga

 

1-april102013 052

Hi Mum, Hi Dad

Well, here we are in sunny Spain (yes, even at this time of year, though it can be a bit chilly in the mornings), and having a whale of a time. I was a little worried it might feel like an out of season beach resort, but it’s not like that at all. Lots of things to do here. There is a beach, of course, but we haven’t actually been hanging out there, though yesterday we took a long walk out along the coast road to the old fishing villages for a fab seafood lunch. Looks like St Tropez or one of those places, palm trees all the way along and little bars on the beach. There’s even a rather dilapidated almost Victorian bathing resort place that has a kind of rustic charm – tres romantique.

First morning, though, we went up to the old castle at the top of the hill to enjoy the view over the city. It was a bit of a climb up – should have taken Luke’s advice and taken a bus or a taxi, but it added a certain relish to the cold beer we had when we got there. And you really can see everything from up there, from the bullring to the harbour, the Cathedral – and lots of gardens. And the sea, of course. My first time on the Med! Hard to believe I’m really here.

1-IMG_5438

Afterwards we went down to the Alcazaba. That’s the old palace and fortress where the Moorish rulers used to live. It’s half the 1001 nights and half, well, a fortress. Towers and walls and whatnot.

In the evening I had my wicked way and we did some shopping in Larios, the main street in the old part of town. Not John’s favourite thing, but I didn’t spend too long or max out the credit card. Picked up a nice pair of shoes and a gorgeous handbag though, so felt I’d had a stab at it. And today he gets to get his own back and drag me round the Automobile Museum. But he still has to take me somewhere nice for dinner afterwards. Plenty to choose from, the food scene here is much more lively and varied than I expected.

What else? We’ve done quite a lot of just wandering around. Found some weird street art and the Roman amphitheatre, and an amazing old bar like a labyrinth. I still want to go to the harbour and have a drink looking across the water.

0465_studio-apartments-malaga-spain-barca-7-01

Our apartment is really cute, and has everything we need, and feels much freer than staying in a hotel. And there’s one of those great fresh food markets just five minutes away. I’ve never seen so much fish and seafood in one place.

Well, that’s about it for now. The holiday seems to have gone really fast, but I’ve a feeling we’ll be back.

See you soon

Lots of hugs and kisses

Jenny

Malaga | Alcazaba and Gibralfaro

This week we have another guest blog post by history buff, tour guide and long-time Seville resident Peter Tatford Seville Concierge. This time, Peter takes us to Malaga.

Malaga has long been one of my favourite Andalucian cities. It’s not just a place to pass through going to and from the airport, or a high-rise resort with so-so beaches. Though there is still an element of that, in recent decades the city has done a lot to change its image, and its heart is now very firmly in the right place, with a pedestrianised historic centre, a thriving food culture, some of the best parks and gardens I know of anywhere, a recently renovated harbour front with shops and restaurants, and loads of cool museums and art (from favourite son Picasso to the Contemporary Arts Centre).

alcazabaat the top of the Alcazaba

For me, though, one of the most important things is that this is a city with history. Founded by the Phoenicians, and occupied by the Romans, its most impressive monuments date from the long Moorish period. From almost anywhere in the city you can see its two fortresses, the lower Alcazaba (from the Arabic al-qasbah, a citadel) and the upper Gibralfaro (gebel-faro, the rock of the lighthouse; Gibraltar, the rock of Tariq, has the same derivation). From below it can be seen to best advantage from alongside the Roman amphitheatre, itself rediscovered by accident in 1951 when the houses on the hillside below the castle were demolished to make way for a planned garden. Although the Alcazaba was also the palace and royal residence of the local kings, its primary role as a fortress is most obvious from here. There is an entrance to the castle here, but there is a second way in (all will be explained later) which avoids the steep climb up from the bottom.

view from gibralfaroview of the port from the Gibralfaro

In the meantime, take a trip up to the top castle, the Gibralfaro. The Phoenicians had a lighthouse and fortified enclosure here, and the current Moorish building dates back to the 10th century, with a substantial rebuilding in the early 14th. Our tip for the Málaga novice is to avoid going up the steep path that connects the two castles, and instead to take a taxi, or a bus up the back of the hill, and walk down the path to the Alcazaba afterwards. One of the main reasons for coming up here, as you will see for yourself when you get there, is the magnificent view right across the city, from the bullring almost immediately below you, past the Alcazaba, Park Malaga and the harbour, to the mountains beyond. Enjoy it from the castle walls, the mirador (lookout) or best of all from the terrace of the Parador Hotel with a drink to go with it. It’s a magic moment.

From there walk all the way down the hillside path to the bottom of the wall of the Alcazaba that faces the sea to find the alternative entrance. This is, in fact, a lift that takes you almost to the top of the centre of the fortress. It’s always my preferred option, particularly in summer, to be carried to the top of things, and only to walk downwards. During the period of the Córdoba Caliphate this hill had a modest fortification to protect the city from pirates. In the more troubled times that followed it, the local ruler built his residence and the double-walled castle enclosure that still exists today. It’s considered to be the best-preserved of all the Spanish alcazabas, and although much smaller than its counterparts in Granada and Seville, the central palace area with its courtyards, pools and gardens, still gives some idea of the high level of civilisation compared to most of the rest of Europe.

alcazaba (2)inside the Alcazaba

Walking along the old battlements it’s easy to see why the siege by the Christian armies leading up to its fall in 1487 was the longest of the entire reconquest period. The castle has endured ever since, surviving abandonment, neglect, and even being occupied as a tenement slum by the city’s poor before being carefully restored during the 1930s and 40s.

I think Malaga is one of those places that always seems to have another side of itself that it only reveals gradually, so it’s well worth renting an apartment and taking a few days to explore what’s on offer.

Antequera | Day Trip

Most of you will be familiar with the names of the major cities and tourist destinations of Andalucia, even if you have never been to them yourself – Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Malaga, and probably Cadiz, Ronda and Marbella. But this region of Spain is full of less well-known towns and cities with their own charm, place in history, culture and things to see and do. So hands up if you’ve heard of Antequera, and a gold star if you can point to it on the map.

centre of andaluciaplaque in Plaza San Sebastian

For the rest of you, Antequera is the small city that is officially the centre of Andalucia (there’s a plaque in the Plaza San Sebastian), owing much of its importance to being at the crossroads (and crossrailways) of Seville, Malaga, Granada and Cordoba. This means that it’s easy to get to from any of these places, either by car or by train, compact enough to see on a day trip, and interesting enough to be worthwhile making the effort.

Antequera’s most important monument and tourist attraction is undoubtedly the Alcazaba, the Moorish fortress built on a steep hill on the southern edge of the town in the 13th century to protect the city from the Christians. After the city was conquered by the Christians in 1410 it served a similar purpose, only in reverse. Take the audio guided tour to learn about the history of the site (which goes back to Roman times), which although a bit hokey, featuring the voice of the prince who led the Christian forces, is still a mine of interesting history and anecdote. One of my favourite things, though, was watching the city being gradually revealed below me as I climbed the winding streets that lead up to the fortress. The strangely shaped mountain that you can see from up here just outside the town is the Peña de Los Enamorados (Lovers’ Rock), where two young lovers from rival Moorish clans are supposed to have thrown themselves to their deaths while being pursued by the girl’s father.

antequera from castleview of Antequera from the Alcazaba

The other thing you’ll notice is the profusion of churches and other large religious and civil buildings (look especially for the Golden Angel on top of the tower of San Sebastian, which is more or less invisible from ground level) for which the city is rightly noted. Most of them date from the period of prosperity that followed the fall of Granada and the discovery of America by Columbus (both in 1492). We discovered that opening times for these seem to be rather limited and random, but on any walk through the town centre you’ll discover at least a couple that you can go into, enough to give you a taster.

You should also make a point of visiting the Antequera Museum, one of the largest in Andalucia, which covers every aspect of the history and culture of the town. Find it in the Palacio Najera in the Coso Viejo Square.

If you have a bit more time you might want to visit the dolmens (burial mounds) of Viera and Menga, which are around 4,000 years old, and the most ancient evidence for the presence of people in this part of Spain, and the nature reserve of El Torcal, famous for its unique limestone rock formations.

porrathree versions of porra at Arte de Cozina

Antequera is also the home of the mollete (a soft flat bread roll), and porra (a local variant of the more famous salmorejo). For a great breakfast of toasted molletes or churros try Cafe La Fuerza near the bullring. You can find good traditional tapas at Rincón de Lola near Plaza Coso Viejo, and 5sentidos (recently opened by former Lola chef) offers trendy tapas, including a spicy Bloody Mary with cockles. At Arte de Tapas and Arte de Cocina (tapas bar and restaurant respectively), the menus feature revivals of old recipes, some dating back to medieval times, and chef Charo Carmona will also give you the recipes for you to try them at home. The tasting menu at Arte de Cozina is spectacular but be sure to book ahead.

Malaga | Muelle Uno and Parque Malaga

muelle unoBelow the historic centre and the walls of the old Alcazaba, the Moorish fortress and palace, lies one of Malaga’s prettiest areas, the gardens of Malaga Park and the harbour.

Malaga has been an important port ever since the Phoenicians first arrived here nearly three thousand years ago, but these days much of the commercial life of the port has been moved to modern installations in the outer harbour, and the inner harbour, now called Muelle Uno (Quay One) has been redeveloped as a tourist attraction with a marina and shopping centre.

It’s modern and open, lined with palm trees, and looks every inch a Mediterranean playground. As well as the shops there are play parks for the kids and plenty of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a bite to eat (and drink) while looking out across the harbour with the sun sparkling off the water. And if you’re a real foodie you’ll want to eat at Restaurante José Carlos García, Malaga’s only Michelin star restaurant.

malaga parkAlongside the harbour is the long promenade of Malaga Park, and one of the joys of a lazy summer afternoon is to stroll along its shaded paths, admiring the exotic plants and statuary, and relaxing beside the central fountain. Across the Alameda are more gardens, with quiet pathways winding around the Alcazaba to the Customs house, currently being renovated as a museum. It seems a world away from all the hustle and bustle, but once you’re refreshed it’s only a few minutes walk back to the old centre.

We have holiday apartments to let in the historic centre, in ideal locations to enjoy your stay in Malaga. You can also check out our Malaga information pages for insider tips on places to see, upcoming events and great places to eat.