How the soul and spirit of Malaga could become the unexpected highlight of your Spanish holiday

Merging the beauty of Seville and Cordoba with the buzz of Marbella, the capital of the Costa del Sol provides a seamless starting point for anyone visiting southern Spain.

Or, so it proved, when an indecently punctual coach left my girlfriend and I stranded in Malaga for several hours before we could continue our journey through Andalusia (my fault, of course).

Luckily for me, plunged into a rapidly-emerging city of traditional and contemporary culture, we hardly found ourselves short of distraction. My only regret was failing to stay there on purpose.

The southernmost major city in Europe, 14 million-plus travellers pass through Malaga each year, heading for either the ‘golden triangle’ of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance towns to the north or the glamorous and not-so-glamorous beach resorts to the west.

Now, it simply pains me to think of those who miss out on a layover in the city itself, sucked into one type of neighbouring tourist trap or another without stopping to witness how impeccably Malaga can combine both fun and refinement.

Malaga harbour is a formerly rundown port that has been magnificently rebuilt to host cruise liners, flanked by chic and idiosyncratic shops as if reflecting the renewed and eclectic character of the sprawling city. It's hard not to marvel at how the native malagueños seemed utterly secure in their surroundings.

We got lost in the winding lanes of the historical centre (which, on reflection, sounds like a good thing – but we had airport transfers to catch).
Yet, when we summoned up the courage and, crucially, the Spanish to ask a passing hombre for directions, he stopped to teach us a song and dance until we remembered the ways in and out of the intricate old town. Turn on Tinder in Malaga, and these lovely, fulfilled folk would probably take you for a candlelit dinner.

Like the paintings by its most prominent son, Pablo Picasso, Malaga has a unique texture. The subtle convergence of cobbled streets in the centre resembles something from a modern art manual; traditional Spanish bars and market stalls look brash and beautiful in resplendent red and gold; and the skyline is truly three-dimensional, composed of church spires competing with red-tiled roofs and lofty apartments, while the Gibralfaro castle and 11th-century Alcazaba fortress majestically overlook the city.

Once immersed in the atmosphere of one of the oldest cities in the world, where the streets serve as a museum of its 3,000-year history – containing relics traceable to the Phoenician pioneers, then the Carthaginian, Roman and Islamic Iberian empires – we paused for a comparably modern look at Malaga Cathedral.

Begun in the 16th Century on the site of the former mosque, its missing Moorish walls and lop-sided couple of towers follow the accidental Spanish custom of half-finished buildings.

For more abstract design, the Picasso Museum is an exceptionally worthwhile visit. A few minutes away from the house where Picasso was born on Plaza de la Merced (also open to the public as a museum), its 285 works chart his artistic progress from the late 19th Century until his death in 1973.

From still life to nightlife, we moved into the La Malagueta beach area as the evening drew in and saw for ourselves how Malaga rivals Barcelona for its dynamism after dark.

The proximity between the sand and the city centre is perfect for a creating a lively coastal setting, lined with restaurants, bars and more.
Just when we sat down for dinner, however, the clock struck us like a thunderbolt.

We collected our suitcases and sprinted to the station. Part of me wished that we would miss the journey again.

Source: The National Student .com
By: Daniel Wittenberg at Other Institution



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