In some form or fashion every city in the world brags on itself. Some boast of interesting moments from their past, or notable people who were born or lived there. Other cities are famous for foods or drinks. And some places played a crucial role in a nation’s development. But a few cities in the world can lay claim to something truly special – being there when human civilization was just getting its feet off the ground. Málaga is one of those, and as old as it is, it continues to reinvent itself anew.
Settlers have long been drawn to this desirable location on the south coast of Spain, where sunshine brightens the countryside, moderate rains fall, plentiful food is drawn from the sea, and cooling breezes of the Mediterranean keep the summertime temperatures pleasant.
Málaga is the sixth largest city in Spain (569,000 residents) and the largest in Andalucía, but far fewer tourists visit there than Madrid (3.1 million residents), with 6,000,000 visitors per year, or tourist-infested Barcelona (1.6 million residents), with 9,000,000 visitors annually. But Málaga’s charm and beauty make it well worth a stop, as nearly one million visitors per year can attest. For more than 2,800 years people have converged at Málaga, proof that it’s a great place to visit or carve out an enjoyable life.
The Phoenicians were the first civilization to call the area home, as far back as 770 BC. They named the settlement Malaka, from the Phoenician word for salt, used to preserve fish. The name was later Latinized to Malaca and eventually morphed into Málaga. With a generous harbor to protect ships and trade, and plentiful seafood to feed people, Málaga was an ideal location. After the Phoenicians, the land was ruled by ancient Carthage, the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, then the Visigoths, Byzantines, Moors, and eventually Christians who seized control of the region that is known as Andalucía before Málaga was finally tucked into what is now Spain.
In addition to the area’s history, Málaga is the birthplace of artistic genius Pablo Picasso, Jewish philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol, and actor Antonio Banderas. The honorific Málagueña is the name Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona gave his famous guitar composition. Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario would later make Málaga his home and produce some of his best writing there.
Tourism is currently one of Málaga’s main sources of income and the center of the city offers many choices for short or longer stays. Alcazaba is considered one of the finest preserved military fortresses from the Spanish – Islamic era. Constructed between 1057 and 1063 AD, the beautifully preserved and restored fortification sits on high ground above the harbor. Down along the seawall, Parque de Málaga is a wide promenade and relaxing place for visitors and locals alike to stroll and find shady spots to soak in the beauty and ambiance of Málaga. There are a number of museums that showcase the history and culture of the city. Cafes, bars, and restaurants offer excellent dining and people watching. Andalucía is the largest olive growing region in Spain, the world’s largest producer. And the region boasts excellent sherry and wines, with nearly 100,000 acres under cultivation. Málaga offers a number of attractive beaches, some that are just a few minutes’ walk from the city center.
And while Málaga is not as popular as other large Spanish cities, it is growing in popularity as a tourist destination. Summer draws the largest crowds, but festivals and events throughout the year make Málaga a fun place.
Visit Málaga and enjoy its beauty. Once you get there, you’ll understand why it’s been attracting people for more than 2,800 years.
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