A tour of Málaga

Introduction

The Málaga of today is the result of the heritage bestowed on it by great civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims and Christians, who all left their mark on the urban structure of the city. In a one-hour tour of the city, visitors can see the important sights and the places that have marked its history and that of its citizens.

Paseo del Parque

A walking tour around the historic center of Málaga begins at the entrance to the Pedro Luis Alonso Gardens. Beside the Gardens, there are three emblematic buildings: the City Hall, the Bank of Spain’s head office and the Rectorate of the University of Málaga (former post office). Opened in April, 1919, Málaga City Hall also served as the Provincial Court and Magistrates’ Courts. The building is on the central Paseo del Parque and presents an ornate façade and beautifully decorated rooms, an artistic monument which bestows prestige on the city.

 

Next to the City Hall, is the Bank of Spain. Designed by the architect José Yarnoz between 1933-36, this neoclassical building has three floors and an impressive hexastyle porch with Corinthian columns that symbolize the stability of a bank.

 

The building housing the current Rectorate of the University of Málaga was opened in 1923 as a post office. Its Neo-Mudéjar style makes it a highly valued architectural landmark. It is square with rounded corners making up circular turrets, the left turret is higher with an oriental-style canopy. This ornate building has always combined aesthetics and functionality, which premiums above all other considerations. The building functioned as a post office until 1986.

Calle Alcazabilla

The tour continues past the Customs office towards Calle Alcazabilla. It is there that the mixture of cultures that have forged the personality of Malaga is most visible. In less than 100 square meters, evidence can be seen of the Romans in the Roman Theater, the Muslims in the Alcazaba, the Christians in the seat of the Brotherhood of Students and the Holy Sepulchre, and finally the Picasso Museum represents Málaga in the modern era.

 

The Alcazaba of Málaga is a palace fortress built by the Muslim rulers of the city. It was built in the 11th century and is one of the most emblematic monuments of the city of Málaga.

 

The Roman Theater is situated at the foot of the Alcazaba. It was discovered in 1951 when laying a new garden at the entrance to the House of Culture. The theater was built in the time of Augustus and was used until the 3rd century; later, it was used by the Arabs to rebuild the Alcazaba, where capitals and shafts of Roman columns can be found. Still standing is the entrance gallery to the proscenium that was covered by a barrel vault, part of the stage measuring about 15m, the cavea, a three-tiered seating area, 31m in radius and 16m high, and the vomitoria, or exits and entrances.

Plaza de la Merced

Calle Alcazabilla leads up to the Plaza de la Merced, where Pablo Picasso was born, Malaga’s most universal citizen. In the square there is an obelisk erected in honour of Torrijos, and the birthplace of Picasso, which now houses the Picasso Foundation.

 

In the 15th century, it was the site of a market, and at the end of the 19th century, a place of leisure and recreation for the wealthy. The bells of the church of La Merced, next to Picasso’s birthplace, rang to a mosaic of characters, echoed by the brilliant artist with the passage of time. In the centre of the square, milk sellers with their herds of goats, vendors of candies, jams, and jasmine, guitar strummers, servants and soldiers, all revolved around the monolith erected in 1842 in honour of General Torrijos, whose slogans of freedom and justice resounded with the young Pablo Ruiz Picasso.

Calle Granada and San Agustín

Heading on down Calle Granada and San Agustin, snaking along a very obviously Muslim-style street, the visitor will reach the Museo Picasso Málaga, (MPM). The is one of six museums in Spain dedicated to Pablo Ruiz Picasso, and one of the two museums that can be found in his birthplace, Málaga, the other being the Fundación Picasso Museo Casa Natal. The initial idea for this museum came about in 1953, from Pablo Picasso and Juan Temboury, Provincial Delegate of Fine Arts in Málaga, but the scheme did not come to fruition. Christine Ruiz-Picasso, widow of Paul Ruiz-Picasso, eldest son of the artist, made contact again with Malaga in 1992 on the occasion of the Picasso Clásico (Classic Picasso) exhibition and once more in 1994 with the exhibition Picasso, Primera Mirada (Picasso, First Look). The 285 works in the collection MPM cover Picasso’s revolutionary innovations, as well as the wide variety of styles, materials, and techniques he dominated. Works range from his first academic studies and vision of classicism, to the superimposed planes of Cubism, ceramics, his interpretations of the great masters and the last paintings from the 1970s.

The Cathedral

As soon as you exit the museum, you can see the unfinished tower of Málaga Cathedral. Next to the cathedral is the Episcopal Palace, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. The Cathedral of the Incarnation stands over the Mezquita-Aljama, the city’s main mosque during the eight hundred-year Muslim rule. Building of the cathedral began in the first half of the 16th century and continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, but the main façade and the south tower were never completed. This has given the place of worship a unique appearance and has led to it being dubbed, ‘La Manquita’, (‘The One-Armed’). Noteworthy in its interior, is the sculptural work of the chancel, with 42 carvings by Pedro de Mena. Still kept in good working order are the two magnificent organs – containing more than 4,000 rare, 18th century pipes. It also houses the Cathedral Museum.

Plaza del Obispo

The origin of the Plaza del Obispo goes back possibly to the Muslim era, but it acquired its present form with the completion of the cathedral’s main façade and the Episcopal palace in the 18th century. In the 1990s, the square was remodelled and the old Diego Clavero and Jerónimo Cuervo buildings were renovated. The work exposed the remains of an ancient Roman and Byzantine wall. The Plaza del Obispo, the Episcopal Palace and Málaga Cathedral feature in the 2004 film El Puente de San Luis Rey, representing a city in 18th century colonial Peru.

Plaza de la Constitución

From one square to another; from the Plaza del Obispo to the Plaza de la Constitución, the sentimental and historical center of the city of Malaga. The Plaza Mayor, or Four Streets Square as it was called by the Nasrids, was renamed the Plaza de la Constitution in 1812. This has been the heart of the historic center of the city from Christian times. From the end of the 15th century to today, this open space has been the political and public space of the city par excellence, and is where all the major political events in contemporary modern Spain have taken place. The City Hall stood inthis square, as did the Casa del Corregidor, the prison, the courts and the Colegio de los Jesuitas.

Calle Larios

And from the most emblematic square to the most important street. Calle Marqués de Larios is a street named in honour of Manuel Domingo Larios y Larios, II Marquis of Larios who developed the city’s textile industry during the 19th century. The first project for Calle Larios was made by the engineer José María Sancha, although it was later modified. This first draft featured a street that started, asit does now, from the Plaza de la Constitución, but then joined up with the streets Toril, Salinas, Desengaño (now Strachan), Plaza del Obispo, Sancha de Lara and San Juan de Dios.

 

The new street was inaugurated by Mayor Sebastian Souvirón Torres, on 27 August, 1891. The blessing was given by the bishop of the diocese, Marcelo Spínola y Maestre, later appointed archbishop of Seville. With the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931, the street was renamed Calle 14 de abril, and the statue in homage to Larios was thrown into the sea. In its place was put the statue a workman who, until then, had been at the foot of the statue of the Marquis. After the end of the Guerra Civil and Franco’s victory, the name of the street reverted to its original form, while the statue of the marquis was rescued from the sea and reinstated, where it remains today, constituting one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable images of the city of Málaga.

Plaza de la Marina

The tour ends near the port at the Plaza de la Marina. The port of Málaga represents the historic point of entry to our city. The Mediterranean, as a nexus between different peoples, has, by its existence, made Malaga a cosmopolitan city, open to newcomers. Here, no one feels like a stranger.

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