Posted by: travelrat | September 27, 2010

A Quick Look at Malaga

Malaga; 17th December 2009.

Our last port of call was Malaga, on the Spanish mainland. We were only going to spend the morning there; the ship sailed at 1 pm.

We’d originally booked the ‘Tapas Tour’, but were told the previous night that it wasn’t available. I found out later, from my Spanish friends, that you don’t normally take tapas in the morning, anyway.

So, we chose an excursion called, simply ‘Tour of Malaga’.

This took us to a hilltop fortress called Gibralfaro. ‘Like Gibraltar with an F’ said someone. The guide explained that ‘Gibraltar’ comes from Jebel Tariq, or ‘Tariq’s Hill’; this was Jebel Faro, or ‘Hill of the Lighthouse’. The lighthouse, no longer in existence, was erected by the Phoenicians, and the Moors built the castle. It’s remarkably well preserved, considering that it was built in the 14th Century, but it has, no doubt been added to and renovated over the years.

The highlight is the walk around the walls, which give an excellent bird’s-eye view of the town and its surrounding countryside. Best of all is the view of the Malagueta, the bull-ring far below; I suppose, if you want to watch a bullfight at a distance, and don’t want to pay the admission, this would be the place to come.

I was getting a bit ‘Seen one cathedral, you’ve seen them all’ by the time we got to the Cathedral, but the guide was enthusiastic and entertaining. Maybe if we’d called at Malaga first? I was rather amused, though, to see a bar in the Cathedral Square called La Taberna del Obispo … or ‘The Bishop’s Tavern’, and had a mental picture of His Grace, in full episcopal schmutter, slipping out for a swift half.

For the last call, we had an option. You can have free time, said the guide, and either meet me back here, or go back to the ship independently. Or, you can come with me to visit the Alcazaba. I’m glad I chose the last option, because I got some super pictures.

The Alcazaba is an 11th Century Moorish fortress, again, much added to over the years, which became a sort of satellite of Gibralfaro. It’s noted as the last stronghold of the Moors, who held out against Spanish Christian forces until 1487, when the first Mass was celebrated under the Puerta de Cristo (Christ’s Gate) in the Alcazaba.

During the tour, the birthplace of the great artist Pablo Picasso was pointed out to us, as was the Picasso Museum. Sadly, we didn’t go into any of these places, as we didn’t have time. But, that’s a good excuse for a return visit.



  1. Hi Keith,
    Oh yes definitely a return visit. All sounds very interesting.
    The Bull ring puts shivers up my spine, I don’t think I could ever watch anything there, but from where you took the picture looks like a great spot, and that would be as close as I would like to get.
    I’ve never seen a Moorish fortress, I have explored with great delight many forts mainly in the Middle East, would love to see the difference between the two.
    Sounds like you had a great guide, it’s always a plus when you get someone like that.

    • I know what you mean; in common with a surprising number of my Spanish friends, I’m not really keen on bull-fighting. But, you can’t help but admire the architecture of some of those bull rings. If it were to be banned (as I believe it has been in Catalonia) I wonder what use they’d be put to. Open-air concert venues, maybe? Sports/football stadiums?

      They told me Ajloun Castle, in Jordan is maybe the best example of Islamic architecture; it never fell to the Crusaders, whereas most of the castles in Jordan were either built or adapted by them.

      (and, you should hear the story of the Crusades as told by a Jordanian; truly, it is said that history is propaganda issued by the winning side! :D)

  2. Hi Keith,
    I agree the architecture on all ancient sites are amazing, how they managed to build them is a lost art, and in some cases they just don’t know.
    There are a lot of Roman Amphitheaters that are used for Opera mainly, so maybe they could do that as well.

    Ajloun Castle I think is the only one the Crusaders didn’t get, but I personally don’t think it’s one of the best. Around 1,000 years ago they built a Mosque in the middle of the Castle, and to me anyway it just seemed to spoil it, I felt it took the original look away from the Castle.

    A lot of different story’s about the Crusades, depending on which Country you are in, but you do hear conflicting story’s not only in Jordan. But it always puts a smile on your face, and the little sideways look to Hubby.

  3. So did you ever witness a bull fight? I’m not sure my stomach could handle it but if I ever find myself in Spain, I think I need to go to one.

    • I didn’t, but way back in the day, when I was young and stupid, I took part in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

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