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A journey through Málaga’s history led by its architecture: places you should definitely visit

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A journey through Málaga’s history led by its architecture: places you should definitely visit

For centuries, Málaga tells its history through buildings and singular constructions that capture the passage of time and the city’s evolution.

Málaga is a millenary city, with a rich history and full of influences from the different civilizations that have passed through it. You can see this phenomenon on its most iconic buildings and monuments. We recommend a route through the city where you will be able to enjoy all these architectural works.

The Roman theater, Málaga’s Roman trace

Teatro Romano MálagaOne of the most emblematic and ancient constructions in the city is the Roman Theater. It was built in the 1st century AD. The theater remained hidden until 1951. Subsequent archeological excavations brought light to the building, which has been recovered and is now visible to all passers-by.

Nowadays, some shows are held in the theater occasionally. Another interesting fact about the theater is that some  of its columns, ashlars and stones were used to build the Alcazaba of Málaga, located on the theater’s back.

 

 

The Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, Al-Andalus heritage

Gibralfaro MálagaRight behind the Roman Theater we can find the Alcazaba of Málaga, a fortress palace that is one of the most representative and visited buildings in the city.

It was built in the Muslim period, between 1057 and 1063. During the arrival of successive Arab dynasties and people to Málaga, this castle has been molded to fulfill its defensive and military function without forgetting the beauty and majesty of an Arab palace. Inside the Alcazaba there are gardens and ponds, large courtyards and corridors decorated with motifs typical of the culture of those who built it and its original inhabitants.

Another symbolic building of Málaga is the Gibralfaro Castle. It was built in the middle of the XIV century by Yusuf I. This Nasrid king decided to build this fortress over a lighthouse that stood where the castle is located nowadays, which was even used by Phoenicians and Romans, hence its name.

The defensive construction was adopted by the Catholic Monarchs as their temporary residence after the Castilian conquest of the Kingdom of Granada.

At the top of the castle you can visit the Interpretation Center, where you can learn about the history of this construction in depth, the Torre Mayor (Main Tower) and the Phoenician well. In the lower part you will find the Torre Blanca (White Tower), where you can see a cistern and the warehouses and rooms used by the Castilian troops hundreds of years ago.

Ecclesiastical architecture

Iglesia de Los Mártires MálagaOn august 19, 1487, the Catholic Monarchs conquered Málaga. The city started a changing process to assume its new Christian role. At that time, the first churches of the capital began their construction.

The first and oldest one is the church of Santiago. Built on the lot of an old mosque, its style is Elizabethan Gothic and can be observed at its tower. Baroque had great influence on it at the beginning of the 18th century. This church worked as a cathedral until the construction of the current one.

Secondly, the church of San Juan Bautista was  built according to the principles of Elizabethan Gothic, with Mudejar elements. Nowadays, its  Baroque style stands out.

On the other hand, the church of the Santos Mártires was built with a testamentary donation of Queen Isabella the Catholic. It is a Gothic-Mudejar style temple that was created to accommodate part of the parishioners of the city center.

Lastly, the church of Santa María. It’s known as the church of the Sagrario, a parish attached to the Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación. It has a Gothic doorway. It is said to have been opened at the base of the minaret of the old mosque.

You can learn more about the history of the churches of  Málaga here.

From Renaissance to Baroque: the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación

Catedral de MálagaThe construction of the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación started around 1530, although it was completed by the end of the 18th century. Located on the remains of an Almohad mosque, it has the curious peculiarity of having its south tower unfinished.

Located in front of Plaza del Obispo, the temple is considered one of the most valuable Renaissance jewels of Andalusia, although its original layout was Gothic.

It has an ashlar chancel with 42 carvings, mostly by Pedro de Mena. It also features two organs, with more than 4000 pipes.

 

The Málaga Enlightenment

Museo de MálagaIn the 18th century, the population of Málaga began to settle in neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, such as Perchel, Trinidad, Capuchinos and Victoria. This is the time of the birth of the Alameda Principal promenade or the resurgence of  Málaga’s harbor for wine export.

The Palacio de la Aduana was also erected in this period, current seat of the Museum of Málaga; the building of the Municipal Archives, the Economic Society of Friends of the Country, or some of the buildings that can be seen in the Alameda Principal, which looks newly renovated while maintaining its historic buildings, as is the case of the headquarters of the subdelegation of the Government of the Junta de Andalucía in Málaga.

 

The 19th century: the resurgence of a city

Calle Larios MálagaMarqués de Larios Street is certainly the most famous and representative street of Málaga, as well as one of the most representative streets of the architecture of this period. Inaugurated on August 27, 1891, it links the Alameda Principal and the Plaza de la Constitución and is a complex of great architectural value.

The architect designed the buildings of this emblematic street in a way that was groundbreaking at the time. We are talking about the rounded ends of the buildings, inspired by the Chicago school -a model of new urbanism at the time-. These shapes allowed the sea breeze to reach the street, thanks to its greater ventilation.

Also dating from the 19th century are the different industrial chimneys that can be seen in Málaga, the result of the economic reactivation that the city experienced and which placed it among the first places in Spain in terms of manufacturing activities. This is the case of the forges of Manuel Agustín Heredia, the textile industry of the Larios family or the factories of other Málaga families such as the Loring, Huelin, Crooke and Gross families, among others.

Also from this period are the Noble Hospital, the Cervantes Theater and the English Cemetery of Málaga, the first Protestant cemetery on the Spanish mainland.

The 20th century in the capital

Ayuntamiento de MálagaThe 20th century brought to Málaga emblematic buildings such as those of Félix Sáenz, the Port Authorities building, the current City Hall, the Bank of Spain building, the Miramar Palace and the Tabacalera building.