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Texts and photos: Marta Cuadras Palleja

For tastes the colors, and Malaga boasts a surprising chromatic variety. It is a destination that has it all: avant-garde museums, excellent gastronomy, a beautiful historic center where you can get lost, vestiges of three thousand years ago, and of course, sun and sand. In addition, it is very practical, everything is very close and it is perfect for a getaway, although the traveler repeats that this city goes a long way.

A very special sculpture

The tree-lined Plaza de la Merced is a good starting point for this getaway. It is presided over by a monolith in honor of General Torrijos who rebelled against the absolutist king Ferdinand VII and ended up being shot along with 47 men on the beach in 1831. Hence the 48 laurel wreaths that surround this monument, and the famous painting "Execution of Torrijos and his companions on the beaches of Malaga" by Antonio Gispert Pérez that is exhibited in the Prado Museum. However, our objective here is the contemplation of a sculpture, somewhat hidden, that represents the person responsible for Malaga becoming an international art destination: Picasso. Sitting on a bench with charcoal and a notebook, he prepares to draw. The brilliant painter was born in Malaga in October 1881 in a house located behind the sculpture that is now the Fundación Picasso Museo Natal.It is a very curious museum full of family objects, photographs, some minor works by Picasso and his father. On the first floor, the family living room is reproduced and although it is not the original furniture, it is from the period. Picasso lived here until he was nine years old and he used to come down to this square to play and paint, especially pigeons. His father, a professor of fine arts, made him paint the legs of this bird to improve his technique.

An old town full of history


We leave Plaza de la Merced behind and head towards Calle de Granada. Real Street before because the Catholic Monarchs entered here on August 19, 1487 after conquering Malaga,after three months of siege. If the time machine existed, we would be crossing the walland going through one of the seven gates that no longer exist, although there are remains of the wall inside some buildings. On this same street, a Mudejar-style church that isbaroque on the inside is the center of attention: the church of Santiago.It is worth entering this temple where Picasso was baptized.

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After leaving the church, it is convenient to turn the first street to the left, that of Santiago, which takes us directly to Alcazabilla,the street with the most history in Malaga due to the large number of monuments it houses. And so you come to the Albéniz Cinema, the only one still alive,dedicated to alternative films and a pioneer in screening them in their original version. In addition, the Malaga Film Festival takes place in this room, theprize for which is a figure in the shape of a biznaga. It is an artificial flower made from natural elements and is manufactured exclusively in Malaga. It is so typical here that it is positioned as the best souvenir to take with you, such as a biznaga-shaped jewel, as well as ceramics, decorative figures, or the same flower if it is spring time.

A theater resurfaced by chance

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But if something surprises the traveler in Alcazabilla street, it is the Roman Theater next to the Alcázar, a unique archaeological complex in the world. The latter, built between the 11th and 15th centuries, is considered one of the most impregnable fortresses in Al-Andalus, as it had very advanced defensive systems for its time. Be that as it may, it is a delight to climb up to up for breathtaking views and marvel at the Nasrid palaces of Muslim rulers. A secret: in some of its viewpoints you can see the penthouse of the Malaga actor Antonio Banderas, on Alcazabilla street, where he usually spends long periods and awaits a surprise; a very peculiar decorative element on your terrace.

The Roman Theatre, neither an amphitheater nor a circus, in the Greek style,existed from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. C. The Muslims took pieces to build the Alcazaba until it was completely covered. Despite being a construction from the 1st century BC, it was not unearthed until 2003.In this place was the House of Culture (nowadays it does not exist) whose gardens it was decided to extend, discovering this magnificent theater.

A glass pyramid in front of the Roman Theater that resembles the Louvre but in miniature. It is nothing more than a window that reveals archaeological remains of a salting factory in Ancient Rome, which is part of the Interpretation Center of the Roman Theater.

Malaga, city of museums
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If we continue going down Alcazabilla street, leaving behind the Roman Theater and the Alcazaba, we reach the Plaza de la Aduana where the Museum of Malaga, also archaeological and Fine Arts, is located.It is distributed over two floors, one for archeology, with more than 15,000 pieces, and the other is an art gallery with a collection of Spanish paintings from the 19th century. Despite the large number of works, it is a very pleasant museum.

But let's follow the route and continue along Calle Císter, full of bars and terraces,until we turn onto Calle San Agustín and arrive at the Museo Picasso Málaga, inaugurated in 2003 thanks to donations from Christine and Bernard Ruiz Picasso. Located in the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista, from the 16th century, the building itself is already worth a visit.Its coffered ceilings are a true marvel, especially the armor that covers the ceiling of the stairs. The 200 works on display by the great artist are divided into rooms chronologically, an interesting way of seeing how Picasso's art evolved.

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Malaga boasts of museums and it is not for less. In its historic center alone, it houses 40 museums, which shows that it is a great cultural destination. Those with the most international projection, such as Picasso's, Carmen Thyssen's, the Saint Petersburg Russian Museum and the Pompidou Centerare probably the ones that attract the most tourists, but the quality of the rest is surprising. Apparently, this city is good at art and Picasso is not the only painter from Malaga with his own museum. The Jorge Rando museum, dedicated to the painter of the same name and a world leader in neo-expressionism,is the first and only museum in Spain dedicated to this current and, as if that were not enough, it is free. Another essential place is the Revello de Toro Museumwhere we find wonderful works by this Malaga painter and portraitist, and with the addition that the building, in addition to being beautiful, was the home-workshop of the great sculptor Pedro de Mena.

Nor should you miss the CAC (Centro de Arte de Contemporáneo), in the Soho neighborhoodbut quite close to the center, a museum where you can enjoy the plastic arts of national and international artists in a fresh and fun way. The building has a cafeteria, restaurant and library that makes it the perfect place to spend a relaxing and free afternoon.

Here there are museums for all tastes and publics, from the one dedicated to the famous wine of Malaga, the one for Holy Week, on flamenco art, automobiles and fashion….


A square that is the heart of Malaga

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The Plaza de la Constitución is the heart of Malaga. It represents the place where the "boquerones" and "boqueronas", that is, the people of Malaga meet for everything: demonstrations, New Year's Eve, Easter, the Fair...It is a very unique, elegant, pedestrian square, with high palm trees and the fountain of Genoa. Some metallic plates stand out on the ground that are newspaper covers of the day of the Constitution.But if the traveler wants to feel like a good person from Malaga, theymust learn a very particular vocabulary. And there is no way more Malaga than ordering a coffee with a “smurf” or a “crazy woman”. It all started in the 1950s at Café Central, located in the same square, when Mr. José Prado,who ran it at the time, had problems serving coffee,and it wasn't exactly cheap. His clients measured the coffee with their fingers and each one ordered it in his own way. So he created a menu for people to choose from. For example, a “half” is one half of coffee and milk, and a “shade” is three quarters of milk and one quarter of coffee. A “pitufo” is a small sandwich and a “loca” is the most typical sweet in Malaga. It consists of a cupcake with two layers of puff pastry filled with cream and a layer of orange icing with a icing in the center. You have to try it yes or yes in one of the pastry shops of the Canasta chain.

To facilitate the task of learning the new vocabulary, it is advisable to go to Calle Santa María (corner of the Central cafe) where a fantastic tile represents in a very graphic way the nine ways of having a Malaga-style coffee.

A very stately avenue

After learning new Malaga words, we headed to Calle Marqués de Larios, the main artery, which leads to Plaza de la Constitución.Until the end of the 19th century, all the streets were narrow and cobbled, with an Islamic layout. It was then that the city council decided to create a wide and modern avenue. The second Marquis of Larios was the one who contributed financially, hence his name, whose sculpture is located at the end of the avenue.Actually, there are three figures. That of the Marquis himself on a pedestal, and around him that of a woman holding a child, which is an allegory of charity. On the other side, a young man with a beak that would be the allegory of work. It is hard to believe that the sculpture of the Marquis was eight years in the sea. During the second republic it was not well seen that a marquis was on a pedestal.The fact is that it is a delight to walk along this great avenue full of top brand stores, cafes and elegant buildings with rounded corners.

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An unfinished cathedral
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Perhaps it does not have the fame of other Spanish cathedrals, but it is well worth visiting the Cathedral of the Incarnation, better known as "la one arm", in Renaissance style. It was built in 1528 on the old mosque of the Arab medina, but in 1588 there were protests about the money that was being spent on the work and the bishop decided to stop it.They resumed in the 18th century, but the lack of budget caused it to stop again in 1782 and it remained unfinished. That is why the south tower is missing, hence its nickname “la manquita”, and other elements as can be seen in the Plaza del Obispo. Without a doubt, one of the most cheerful and colorful squares in Malagawith a beautiful stone fountain in the center and a group of baroque buildings that make up the Episcopal Palace, as well as the main façade of the cathedral. The visit to the cathedral is through Císter street and it is highly recommended to go up to the roof terraces where it is also unfinished.As the roof is missing, the vaults are bare, and unfortunately, there are leaks when it rains.

beaches with surprise
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As cultural as this city is, let's not forget that we are in the capital of the Costa del Sol and, of course, you can't miss the beach.From the center you cross the Parque de Málaga and immediately arrive at Pier 2, where the Palmeral de las Sorpresas surprises with a pleasant promenade area accompanied by an original pergola in the shape of a whale skeleton.However, the star of Pier 2 is the Center Pompidou,home to the famous Parisian modern art museum, with its unmistakable colored glass cube above an underground gallery where it used to be a car park.

We continue towards Pier 1, a promenade area full of restaurants and shops next to the Malagueta beach where some boats anchored on the beach cook the famous espetos: sardines pierced by a metal saber and it is a must to try them.This promenade merges with the Paseo de la Farola, which culminates with the landmark that gives it its name, La Farola, a symbol of the city of Malaga. It is a lighthouse in "feminine" because when it was built, in 1817, the mayor's wife commented that the platform on which the lighthouse was raised was like a skirt, and hence its nickname.

A market with a mixture of styles

In Malaga you can eat wonderfully and its spectacular market attests to this.This is the Central Market of Atarazanas, a must-see,whose stalls display the fresh and traditional products of this land in a showy way. Its history dates back to the fifteenth century, when the sea reached hereand the ships were repaired by the Nasrid shipyards, hence the name. After the reconquest, the building became a warehouse, arsenal, military hospital and barracks. Now it is a beautiful market with an iron structure whose main entrance is a horseshoe arch door from the Muslim era.The contrast between the modernist and Mudejar styles in the same space makes it a very unique building.From this entrance, you will be surprised by a precious enormous stained glass window in the background, on the rear façade,where the landmarks of Malaga are represented: the cathedral, the fortress, the coat of arms.

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It is the ideal place to make a stop and eat at one of the restaurants in the interiorand surroundings. And since we are here, you can take the opportunity to try one of the typical products of Malaga, its wine. A few meters from the market there is the Antigua Casa de Guardia, a tavern founded in 1870 that is a classic in Malaga.It is highly recommended to order the "pajarete" which is a mixture of muscatel with Pedro Ximénez. They say that if you drink more than two glasses without eating, you begin to see birds surrounding your head, hence its name.

Another emblematic place to eat is Pimpi, a cheerful and very Andalusian restaurant. There is also the Chinitas near the famous homonymous passage where there was the mythical and clandestine Café Chinitas. Wherever you go, you have to order the Malaga salad with cod and orange, the very typical ajoblanco, the skewers, the fried fish and accompanied by a Victoria beer, or of course, a Malaga wine.


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