Carmen Thyssen Museum
Malaga is the Provincial Capital and is the largest city in the Malaga Province and only second largest in Andalucia after Sevilla. Malaga is now the 5th largest city in Spain. The port city of Andalucia, Malaga has become the centre of commerce, international trade and airport hub for holiday destinations in the Costa del Sol.
Malaga is the best kept secret that only the most inquisitive of tourists will discover. This undiscovered treasure of Costa del Sol has a lot to offer including beautiful sandy beach, wonderfully maintained parks, amazingly restored Moorish Alcazaba, fantastic shopping centres, fascinating old quarters and cultural centre of the region. Many visitors to Costa del Sol miss out on a great city that is rich in architecture, history, gastronomy and a wonderful place to visit.
Founded by Phoenicians in 1000 BC and named Malaka probably derived from the word for Salt (Mela in Hebrew & Mil in Arabic), it was a rich city which made it’s wealth from salt mines. Salt in the ancient days was as important as Oil is today.
Malaga has a rich history and architecture dating back to Visigoth’s (500BC-300BC), Romans (300 BC- 100 AD), and Moors (800 AD- 1500 AD). Malaga was one of the last places to fall during the Reconquesta (1487). Malaga also suffered heavy bombing during the Spanish Civil War by both General Franco’s Artillery and Italian Air Force. This period witnessed the darkest day in Malaga’s history when 40,000 fleeing civilians were killed on the road to Almeria, the last stronghold of the Republicans.
Malaga Feria & Fiestas
Malaga is famed for its zest for life including the annual Feria de Malaga (Malaga Feria) every August which is a 11-day festival of street parties, free concerts, market stalls and general merry making. In the evenings the Feria moves on to the purpose-built “Feria” grounds with a massive Fair Ground for the Children and an amazing party for the adults. Malaga does not sleep for 11-nights, which requires not only energy but uncommon stamina for partying!
Malaga is also famed for its Christmas Lights, each year stunning the nation with its ever more elaborate and larger displays. In 2007 Malaga displayed over 3.5 million lights in the city (up from 3 million record in 2006!), which attracts Spanish visitors from all over the country. Christmas Lights have been cut back since the financial crisis of 2009 but Malaga is still putting a great show. The 3-Kings parade and celebration is yet another excuse for a street party, with the parade arriving at the Port and winding its way through the old centre taking nearly four hours to complete!
The inner city of Málaga is just behind the harbour. The quarters of El Perchel, La Trinidad and Lagunillas surround this centre. The best way to see the old City is to start from Calle Marques de Larios, which is the main street of the old city and is now pedestrians only access. Larios street is the centre of life in Malaga. It is the main route for the Easter Parade, 3-Kings night, the day-time Feria in August, and the focus of all activities during Christmas. This is where street entertainers, expensive boutiques, and Malaga’s lunching ladies meet! Try the best patisserie shop in Malaga just on your right as you walk up Larios street from Alameda Principal to the Plaza de Constitución. Walk up to the Plaza de Constitucion where there is always something going on; an Art display, a concert (Christmas & Easter), street entertainers, etc.
With the main Plaza to your left and Larios behind you, take the alleyway to the far right hand corner of the plaza (just past the restaurant on your right). Follow this narrow alleyway and you should come to the Cathedral also known as the “Unfinished Cathedral” to your right corner. You will note that the far end bell tower has its roof missing. The legend has it that the Bishop of Malaga sent the money raised for its completion to help the Americans fighting the British for independence. Although since then money has been made available, it was decided to leave the cathedral in its original state to preserve its historical importance.
Continue walking along keeping the cathedral to your right, and after 200 meters you should come to a junction with the entrance of Alcazaba to your left. This is a place worth visiting and do so with plenty of time. Although this is not as large or grand as Alhambra, Malaga’s Alcazaba (Spanish corruption of the word Al Cazba) is a serene and beautiful place with amazing gardens and delicate architecture with almost no sign of pretentiousness or triumphalism. You also will have fantastic views of the harbour and the city but the best views are yet to come when you ascend to Gibralfaro castle (only for the fit and healthy otherwise take the bus to the top and walk down!).
Picasso museum is near the Cathedral and is well sign posted. These are not his most famous pieces but they are some of his earlier works. Even if you are not a fan of Picasso and modern art, you will enjoy this visit as the museum itself is the star of the show. The museum is housed in a renovated Moorish building, classic courtyard, beautiful walkways, airy terraces and some of the most intricate woodwork on the ceilings. So when you are walking around don’t just look at the frames, look up and see the heavens above.
Carmen Thyssen Museum opened in 2015 with donation of money for the building and artworks from Duchess Carmen Thyssen private collection. The Duchess donated these to the city all her private collection and the City Hall also managed to find room to display the artwork from other donors that have been in storage for decades. The museum provides a more traditional art with regular guest exhibitions that add to the appeal of the venue. You need plenty of time to go around this so do allow plenty of time as you will probably miss the best parts of the collections.
CAC or Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Centre for Contemporary Art in Malaga) in Soho de Málaga which is the Bohemian part of the city! Calle Alemanía is only a short walk away from the Malaga Central Metro Station on the east side of the river. Entry is free and museum dedicated to modern art. There are no permanent displays and it is made up of visiting and guest exhibitions from variety of artists working in different fields including Painting, Photography, Sculpture, and Alternative Arts. You can hire a guide for a small donation.
If you need more culture there are 5 more museums and 6 Theatres and concert halls you can visit!
To the West of the city you have the Market which is undercover and runs every weekday from 9am to 2pm. This is an amazing place displaying an array of colours made from the stands selling fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, olives, meat, fish, bread, patisserie, and anything else that is edible! The market was in fact an old Artillery manufacturing and Shipbuilding yard that stood on the port-side as water used to come right up to this street (I know, hard to believe!). Ships could sail right up to the gates that still stands to load their Cannons and Ammunitions.