Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alcazaba of Malaga

View of the Alcazaba from Hotel Maestranza

Section of the Castle Wall

Courtyard Interior


Ramparts overlooking amphitheatre and downtown


2nd century Roman amphitheatre

After 600 years since the Spanish Reconquest, Moorish heritage is still very evident in Malaga. The most visible and imposing is Alcazaba (or sometimes called Alcazar), the fortress of the governors of Granada, started in the 8th century.

The castle overlooks the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) and the Cathedral, with a great view of the old town below on one side, and the castle of Gibralfaro and Malagueta on the other. The Alcazaba may not be as grand as the Alhambra but it is one of the best preserved Arabic citadels, with the interior pretty much intact.

Below one of the ramparts is a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre. It's smallish as amphitheatres go, but says a lot about the age of the city.

Only the remnants of the walls remain at Gibralfaro on the next hill. Gibralfaro (in Arabic, rock of the lighthouse) was the scene of the surrender of the citizens of Malaga, after a 3 month siege by Ferdinand and Isabella in the remaining days of the Moorish empire in Spain.

Alcazaba (and Gibralfaro) are well worth the climb and the hike. They make Malaga far more interesting destination than just for soaking up warmth in the winter.

P.S.

I was scheduled to leave on New Year's Day (Jan 1st), at 8:00 am for Frankfurt. When I got to the airport, the lights at the Spanair counter were dimmed. The agent said the flight was delayed. When pressed for more information, the agent simply said the pilot did not show up, nowhere to be found.

A replacement pilot had to be flown in from Mallorca. Spanair rebooked me on Iberia instead. I should've known. New Year's Eve and too much tinto make pilot disappear. What a way to start the year, 2007!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Malagueta

View of Malaga Harbour, from Gibralfaro

Malaga Cathedral, Plaza del Obispo

Ayuntamiento de Malaga, from the Alcazaba

Corrida next to Hotel Maestranza

Picasso's Birthplace, Plaza de la Merced

Moorish Night Market

Picasso and Antonio Banderas share the same hometown. They are the more recognizable citizens of Malaga in the Costa del Sol of Spain in romantic Andalusia.

A city of about half a million, it is a vacation destination and a major commercial port. Founded in the 8th century BC by Phoenicians, it was an important center of Moorish Spain, a couple of hours from the grand capitals of Cordoba and Granada.

With lots of spare time over Christmas holidays in 2006, I decided to fly to Malaga after the obligatory family Christmas festivities. I stayed at Hotel Maestranza, a few blocks from the Malagueta. Malagueta is the district to the east of the harbour and the city center.

The beach is nothing to rave about, but it has ambience and leisurely air. What is a beach without ambience? And one can always boast that it is on Costa del Sol.

Sunny weather with temperature averaging 17c in January, makes Malaga a very desirable winter destination for me. In addition, it has a rich cultural and historical heritage, a combination of the Moorish and the Catholic, so there's lots to do and see. Malaga is relatively inexpensive compared to other European destinations.

For sure, a return visit is on my to do list even just to practice my Spanish.