City of museums
Malaga’s cultural offering has increased significantly in recent years, with a significant investment in museum and cultural facilities. In fact, Malaga is known today as the city of museums.
There are cities that believe in an idea and carry it out. Malaga is one of these cities. Years ago, it made a commitment to culture, and today it is not only the artistic capital of Andalusia, but also one of the most visited cities of Spain for that same reason. This is the result of a city project, of a dream that was made a reality. Those responsible for it were convinced from the very beginning: if we could create leading centres in art, then visitors, which until then had only been attracted by the charms of the sun and the beach, would find plenty of reasons to keep coming back. But the idea had to be made a reality. The opening of the Picasso Museum in Malaga was a turning point in the history of the city. At the same time, other first-class museum projects were born, which today make the Costa del Sol’s capital an irresistible magnet for art lovers on an international level.
With this in mind, Malaga’s cultural offering has increased significantly in recent years, with a significant investment in museums and cultural facilities. One of the most significant aspects underpinning this commitment to cultural dynamism and the preservation of heritage is the marked regeneration experienced by its historic city centre. The city’s historical heritage sites (such as the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle and the Cathedral) have now been joined by a wide variety of museums and exhibition centres.
In this regard, 2003 marked an important turning point. In February, the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), located in Malaga’s former Wholesale Market, opened its doors to the public. It has now become one of the most prestigious centres of its kind in Europe. Furthermore, in October the Picasso Museum Malaga opened in the Buenavista Palace, with funds from the painter’s family. This museum joined the Casa Natal (Picasso Birthplace Museum), which since its inauguration in the 1980s has become a prestigious centre for Picasso studies.
Subsequently, a wide variety of museums with multiple different themes have been created, including highlights such as Centre Pompidou Malaga, the Collection of the Russian Museum of St. Petersburg, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Interactive Music Museum, the Flamenco Art Museum, the Easter Museum, the Wine Museum, the Automobile Museum, the Glass Museum and the Revello de Toro Museum. In the last decade the cultural offering has grown so much that Malaga now has almost 40 museums and exhibition centres. Recently, the Secretary-General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, named Malaga “the city of museums”. And justly so, as Malaga has become a unique city that allows us to observe the inter-relationships of more than a century of artistic creation. The city of Malaga has placed culture and museums at the centre of a new stage of tourist development, which has allowed it to become one of the most dynamic tourist destinations in Europe, with a unique and ever-growing cultural offering. The latest Cultural Observatory of the Fundación Contemporánea (Contemporary Foundation) – a platform for meeting, discussing and debating among professionals from the different disciplines of the cultural world – places the city of Malaga in fourth place in its quality ranking of the cultural offerings of Spanish cities, with 29 points. Costa del Sol’s capital is ranked below only Madrid (86), Barcelona (79) and Bilbao (53).
Malaga’s cultural offering is complemented by a large number of cultural facilities and spaces that offer theatrical, musical and cinematographic shows, and which hold exhibitions, meetings, conferences and seminars. The Malaga Fair and many other popular festivals that are held throughout the year are seen as mass cultural events that have a large number of participants and attract a significant number of domestic tourists.
The Malaga Spanish Film Festival, the Theatre Festival and the Malaga Gastronomy Festival also demonstrate Malaga’s commitment to activities related to leisure and culture. Likewise, the increase in activities and attendees experienced by the Trade Fair and Congress Centre is also noteworthy, as it consolidates its role as a benchmark in congress tourism. In short, Malaga has more than 170 spaces dedicated to the exhibition, promotion and dissemination of cultural and leisure activities. All this cultural transformation has had the desired effect: Malaga has gone from being a city untouched by the tourism phenomenon to becoming one of the most dynamic tourist destinations in Europe.
Currently, Malaga is directly connected to over 30 countries and more than a hundred cities around the world. Since 2006, the city has also been connected to 16 Spanish cities by the AVE high-speed train. The maritime cruise station opened in 2007, and just four years later a second cruise terminal was opened due to the spectacular growth of this segment. Subsequently, a new station was opened on Muelle 2, which will allow smaller cruise ships to dock just a few steps away from the city’s historic centre. Finally, Malaga also has a large network of motorways and highways, as well as a metro system. According to data from the Tourist Situation Report drawn up by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE, for its initials in Spanish), the city of Malaga has been the urban destination in Spain that has best evolved in the last decade.