Málaga and surroundings
In the first place, Málaga is known for its airport that is practically the gate to the Costa del Sol, the sun coast; With approximately 7 million flight guests, it is one of the biggest airports of Spain. The proximity to the sun coast is the touristic figurehead of Málaga, although the city has much more to offer. With approximately 530.000 inhabitants, it is the second biggest city of Andalusia with a long history. The Phoenicians already maintained there one of the most important trade ports. Today, the city is the focus of the culture and economy of Andalusia.
Málaga has certainly not these touristical highlights as Córdoba or Granada, but the city can still offer some worthwhile seeing buildings and historical monuments. The viewing of these in conjunction with a walk through the parks of Málaga makes a stay in this city worthwhile in any case. By the way, the city is the birth place of Pablo Picasso on whom a museum and his house where he was born remind.
At the airport, we had relatively enough time and wanted to use it for viewing Málaga. As also this city is, as many other Andalusian cities, anything but not nerve-calming for car drivers, we decided to try a recommendation we got. We let the car at the airport and took the Spanish rail, the RENFE, to Málaga and found that this is the best solution. The train departs approximatelty any 30 minutes and in approximately 15 minutes one is in the city centre of Málaga for the cheap price of approximately 1 Euro. The sightseeings of the city are concentrated on a relatively narrow space in the centre so that one can easily access them on foot.
The Moorish fortification Alcazaba
Also Málaga has, as so many other Andalusian cities, a Moorish fortification that at that times was supposed to secure the reign of the Arabs. In relation to the size, the splendour and the art of the arquitecture, this building cannot compete with the gorgeous buildings of the Alhambra in Granada or the Mezquita Catedral in Córdoba, but a visit is worthwhile anyway. It is an impressive fortification that enthrones high above the old town of Málaga and to which one has to climb up some steep stairways.
The Alcazaba was built in the 11th century by the monarch of Málaga of that time, Sultans Badis. According to his wish, a mix between fortification and palace was built that vigiled from the hill over the city. Also here, the basis were some rests of an old Roman building on which the fortification was newly made. From these old roman buildings, still today the ruins of a Roman theatre that was not rediscovered until the year 1951 are witnesses. It was built by the King Augustus.
The heydays of the fortification with its 11 main towers were overdue with the devastation of the Moorish and their expulsion from Andalusia, in the following centuries it continued decaying. Fortunately, in the 20th century people noticed that such historical buildings need to be protected, a thing that got increasingly significative. Then, in the year 1931, the Alcazaba was declared as a world heritage by the UNESCO and the restauration started. Today, the fortification is in a very good condition.
The palace hall of the Nazarites, the Moorish dynasty, can be viewed, as also the residence rooms of the court; As it is the case of many Moorish building ensembles, the gardens with their sophisticated irrigation facilities and cooling fountains ans water basins are specially impressive.
By standing on the castle walls, one sees on a wide hill the ruins of the Castillo de Gibralfaro. This denomination is originated from the Arabian noun for light house, and this is supoposed to be related to the light house that the Phoenicians were supposed to have built.
From the fortification built in the 14th century, only a few remained exept the circular wall. Only an exhibition related to the history of the castle complex is interesting. As the fortification is only accessible by a longer walk or a drive by car, it might be only make sense to visit it if one stays for a longer time in Málaga.
The cathedral La Manquita
The fact that Spanish cities are known for their impressive and massive churchs is not a secret. Also Málaga has numerous churches and an arquitectonically and art-historically outstanding cathedral.
As often, the Catholic Monarchs either rebuilt the mosques or demolished them completely after their victory over the Moorish in order to build some catholic cathedrals. Also the cathedral of Málaga, the Catedral La Manquita, stands on the place of a former mosque. The building was from the year 1528 up to 1588, but it was never fully completed. By this way, still today, this church offers a strange view, from the originally two towers planned only the one at the north side is finished. With its height of 86m, it provides this building an imposing appearance. But the south tower or what was supposed to be the tower, barely outstands from the cladding. This is also where the name of the cathedral comes, as "La Manquita" means "the little arm-less".
But independently from these unfortunate circumstances, the building is imposing and impressive. The three-naved church interior has an impressive length of 115m and a height of 52m. Also the church arrangement with paintings, carvings and sculptures are the result of a strong feeling for art and the will to a gorgeus appearance of the church.
Despite of its defect of being unfinished, the Catedral La Manquita counts to the most significant church buildings of the Renaissance in Andalusia and is considered on the same level as the ones of Granada, Cádiz and Jaén.
More sightseeings of Málaga
As a real Spanish and specially Andalusian city, the city of Málaga of has of course a bullring. The Malagueta is located very close to the beach and relatively close to the city centre so that it is possible to get there on foot. From the fortification Alcazaba, one has a specially nice view to the arena.
The harbour is also worthwhile to explore, specially when an ocean liner has landed. The big cruisers are often visible here; No one wants to miss having visited the cathedral of Málaga. But thereby, one should not forget two other very interesting buildings that are located very closely to the cathedral.
The Episcopal Palace, the Palacio Episcopal, is used today as an exhibition hall. It was built on the 18th century. The Sagrario, a small chapel at the north side of the Catedral La Manquita was used as an Episcopal church until the cathedral overtooked it. Its portal is specially beautyful.
Málaga is specially bound to a name that is Pablo Picasso, as the artist was finally born in this city. His birth house at the Plaza de la Merced reminds on this, where in the number 15 the Museo Casa Natal de Picasso is located, a museum with the works of the artist and the study centre of the Fundación Picasso are. Of course there are also numerous souvenirs available that remind on Picasso's works.
There is a second museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso. The museum founded by his daughter in law shows a collection of artworks of the artist that were donated by his daughter in law. 138 oil paintings, sculptures, ceramic figures and drawings can be viewed in a Renaissance palace in the C. San Augustin .
Hotel La Posada del Conde nearby Málaga
At about 60 km northwest of Málaga there is the Hotel La Posada del Conde located in a wild-romantic landscape. After a drive through the mountains ans alongside of several reservoirs, one get to the place Ardales where the hotel is located.
It is a small and privately managed house with 26 rooms. Due to its situation at the edge of Ardales at a side road, it is pleasantly tranquil in the hotel. There is neither any traffic noise nor any other kind of noise disturbing at night; Right beside the hotel there are some parking places for the guests that can be used for free. Not a matter of course in Andalusia, but a very positive thing.
We found the room very nice, simple but practically arranged with style. A heating, bathroom and WC in a separate room with access to it through the living- and sleeping room. In the bathroom, there were towels, bath towels, soap and tooth mugs. But we could not be really convinced to have a bath or to shower, as the the water was only likewarm. This might normally not be very disturbing, but that day it was specially cold and rainy. Obviously, the heating was kept for the winter time, so that in this concern there is a minus point for this other wise very pleasant hotel. But to the contrary, the was nothing to say against the cleanliness, kudos for this.
There is a restaurant in the house that is known for its#F0F0F0ood cuisine and that is very recommendable. But what is also true is that there is no big choice for other locations, as there is nothing similar to find in the next proximity. The alternative would be driving many kilometres through the mountains. But as it is possible to stay in the house, this is surely not a big problem.
We booked with breakfast included. While in most of the hotels, a breakfast buffet is offered, here, breakfast is served in La Posada del Conde. This is very nice but it limits the choice. One gets a big roll served with a topping and one can also order some marmelade and, for the case one is still hungry, order another roll. But one does not have the choice of a buffet. Also the coffee is served. It was certainly not a problem to order a second and a third cup, but we think the principle of the buffet is better. Recreational facilities as a swimming pool etc. are not available. If the weather is fine one can have a bath in the reservoir of the proximity, as there are several beaches there.
Conclusion: La Posada del Conde is a very acceptable small and nice hotel that does not outstand with a special comfort but which biggest plus is its cleanliness and the very friendly personnel.
The surrounding of Málaga
It is hardly known but the surrounding of the city Málaga is of a breathtaking beauty. A mountaneous landscape ranged by some canyons and with three reservoirs invite to have some hiking tours, bathing and climbing. At approximately one hour by car at the northwest of Málaga, one gets to the area around El Chorro and Ardales. At the river Guadalhorce, several dams were built that jam the river and operate a hydroelectric power plant. At the reservoires there are some bathing beaches, camp sites and recreational facilities.
The road to the village Ardales that is located at one of the lakes leads to an impressive canyon that is one of the most important sports climbing places of Spain and that is also supposed to be the most significant climbing area of the country. On the way to Ardales, a small bridge is eye catching that sticks like a bird's nest at the steep rock faces at a dizzying height. It is a part of the "Camino del Rey", the King's path. It is a path that makes his way in a breathtaking boldness alongside the rock and that was inaugurated by the King Alfons XIII in the year 1921. But today it is closed as meanwhile, the access is life-threatening. But only the view of the bridge makes one guess which masterpiece has been fulfilled.
Shortly before the place Ardales, there is a road junction at which the direction to the ruins of Bobastro is signposted. By following this signpost, after a car drive of about 3 km, one gets to a small parking place with the signpost "Iglesia Mozárabe" from which a foot path leads to Bobastro. After approximately 500 m with an easy ascent through the rocky landscape one gets to a fenced area on which the ruins of Bobastro are located. Actually it is only a main ruin, a former rock church. The church was carved out of the stone. Today, only a ruin is really left of it. It was surely an impressive building, but if this ruin has to be seen is doubtful. A sidetrip to this place is worthwhile anyway, as the landscape and the view from the complex of the ruins of Bobastro are worthwhile to visit.
Around the church ruin there is - how else could it be - a legend. According to this legend, in the 9th century there was a certain Omar ibn Hafsun who barricaded himself here in his mountain fortification Bobastro and gave the troops of Códoba as good as they got. His governance is supposed to have been for some time from Cartagena up to Gibraltar. He is supposed to have resisted this way the sovereigns of Córdoba for 40 years.
Furthermore, this legend tells that he converted to christianism and then made the rock church Iglesia Mozárabe to be built in the fortification, in which he was burried after his death in the year 917. But he was not supposed to get there a rest for a long time. After the mountain fortress was conquered ten years later by the troops of Córdoba, his body was supposedely removed and crucified in the Mezquita of Córdoba.
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Author: Michael Nitzschke; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz