A visit to Malaga Spain

We were onboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic on a repositioning cruise from Port Canaveral, FL to Barcelona with various stops along the way - the fourth stop being Malaga.

Malaga is 4,597.5 sea miles from Port Canaveral and 141.5 sea miles from Cadiz. It is a municipality, capital of the Province of Málaga, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 571,026 in 2018, it is the second-most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth-largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean, about 100 kilometres (62.14 miles) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km (80.78 mi) north of Africa.

 Quick History Lesson 

Málaga's history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. According to most scholars, it was founded about 770 BC by the Phoenicians as Malaka. From the 6th century BC the city was under the hegemony of Ancient Carthage, and from 218 BC, it was ruled by the Roman Republic and then empire as Malaca (Latin). After the fall of the empire and the end of Visigothic rule, it was under Islamic rule as Mālaqah for 800 years, but in 1487, the Crown of Castille gained control after the Reconquista. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an "open museum", displaying its history of nearly 3,000 years.

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If you have never been to Malaga & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;

Exploring Malaga

This was day 13 of our transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian Epic. The ship arrived in Malaga harbor at 7AM, and as this city was one that I had visited numerous times while serving in the Navy, our initial game plan was to visit the Castle of Gibralfaro and then the Alcazaba.

Once the Epic was in position at it's pier and the passengers were allowed to go ashore, we set out for the Castle of Gibralfaro.

As we were walking down the pier towards Malaga, we heard the Epic sound it's emergency horn signal (7 short blasts and 1 long). We found out later that it was a practice drill, but initially we were a bit worried about whether there was a real emergency or not!

Gibralfaro is approximately 2 kilometers from where the Epic was located, and the walk there takes you through El Parque de Malaga. It is nearly impossible to get lost, because the Gibralfaro sits high above the park and the path up to the castle starts near the Calle Gullen Sotelo which is located about two blocks north of the park. All of this means is that the trail and the Gibralfaro are always in your sight.

Did I mention that the weather this day was gorgeous, warm, not a cloud in the sky - but - it was getting warmer by the minute!

There is our goal; the Castillo Gibralfaro is at the center right, and the Alcazaba is just to the left and below it. You can't quite make out the walking trail up to the top, but you can get an idea of how steep it must have been.

All of the documentation online claim that Mount Gibralfaro is but 130 meters (430 feet) in height and it is obviously not the highest point in Malaga. But that trail to the top is such a continously steep trail, it makes the height seem much higher!

The trail up to Gibralfaro is steep, continously steep such that I should warn you that if you are not in good physical condition, do not attempt this trail! It was hot, and we found ourselves pausing under a shady tree frequently!

However on the plus side, the views of Malaga below us, and the views of the Harbor, were beautiful.

I have visited Gibralfaro a number of times while in the Navy, and distinctly remember making this hike up to Gibralfaro several times, but it was far less difficult at that age than my current age!

Once we reached the top of the trail and began to explore the Castillo Gibralfaro, the views were stunning and it was clear that the purpose of this castle was to protect the harbor below.

 Quick History Lesson 

The Castillo Gibralfaro was built during the XIV century with a purely military objective in mind, to house the troops and defend the Alcazaba and the city of Malaga. After the Catholic Kings conquered the castle in 1487, Fernando the Catholic made the castle his temporary residence. In fact, the Gibralfaro Castle was one of the best constructions at the time due to its great height and two levels of walls and barricades around it and eight defensive towers that made it prepared for any kind of attack.

After completing our exploration of Castillo Gibralfaro, we hiked back down the trail we had ascended with the intention of exploring the Alcazaba.

As the day was getting increasingly warmer, and we were already pretty tired from the walk up Mount Gibralfaro and then down again, we had not considered how to get to the Alcazaba entrance. So we first went in the wrong direction, only to find that it became a dead-end. So we retraced our steps back along the Alcazaba walls toward Castillo Gibralfaro, and went through a tunnel which brought us around to the other side of the fortress where we could finally see the Alcazaba entrance.

 Quick History Lesson 

Ferdinand and Isabella captured Málaga from the Moors after the Siege of Málaga in 1487, one of the longest sieges in the Reconquista, and they raised their standard at the "Torre del Homenaje" in the inner citadel.

The Alcazaba of Málaga is built on a hill in the centre of the city, overlooking the port, and comprises two walled enclosures. It was formerly connected to the city ramparts which formed a third defensive wall but only two inner walls remain. The first, built around the topography of the hill, completely encloses the second inner area and is dotted with defensive towers.

After we completed our look around the Alcazaba, we decided to walk about Malaga and try to locate the Picasso Museum. This was not what you might call a "large" museum, but they do have two floors of various works by Picasso, including paintings, drawings and ceramic sculptures. It should be noted that Picasso was born in Malaga, so there is a fair amount of reverence for him around the city.

 Quick History Lesson 

The Museo Picasso Málaga is a museum in Málaga, Andalusia, Spain, the city where artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born. It opened in 2003 in the Buenavista Palace, and has 285 works donated by members of Picasso's family. In 2009, the Fundación Paul, Christine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso that owned the collection merged with the Fundación Museo Picasso Málaga that operated the museum, which is based in the home on Málaga's Plaza de la Merced that was Picasso's birthplace, and is now the Museo Casa Natal ("Birthplace Museum"). The new merged foundation is the "Fundación Museo Picasso Málaga. Legado Paul, Christine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso" ("Museo Picasso Málaga Foundation. The Paul, Christine and Bernard Ruiz Picasso Legacy").

After the museum exploration, we decided that it was time for lunch. We walked over to the Calle Granada and read the menu at D'Platos. This was essentially a tapas restaurant, but we were able to snag outside seating and enjoyed a couple of adult beverages with our tapas.

After lunch, we walked around downtown Malaga just to explore the city in more depth. Most of the areas we walked through were "pedestrian only", and as all the shops were open, we did a bit of window shopping.

After strolling back to the area nearest the harbor, we decided that it was time to head back to the Epic, but to do so via a slighly different route. We entered the Parque de Malaga from it's western end, and headed over to the beach nearest the cruise port.

The beach was crowded because it was such a beautiful day, many families and children having a lot of fun - but not many people were in the water?

Suggested links for Malaga Spain


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