The city of Malaga, one of the oldest cities in Spain, has been given a new image boasts a sleek port, an exciting culinary scene and a rapidly growing clutch of artistic and cultural attractions.
If you venture beyond its port and seafront, Malaga city will pleasantly surprise you. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an open-air museum, displaying its rich history dating as far back as 3,000 years.
Overlooking the town and port, the wonderfully preserved fourteenth-century citadels of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro bear remarkable witness to the city’s Moorish past, while a Roman theatre below predates them by over a millennium.
The city government has done an impressive job over the last decade in tidying up the monumental zone and the old quarter making it a wonderful place to wander through streets and squares filled with animated bars and cafés as well as craft and fashion shops.
Málaga has long been a vacation spot for sun lovers in search of an affordable beach getaway. Today, the growing number of cultural attractions here may be more of a reason to come than the soft golden- sand beaches and the sparkling Mediterranean. In the last decade, more than 20 museums have opened in the port city showcasing everything from paintings by art world heavy-hitters to rare automobiles. Many are concentrated in the historical center, much of it entirely pedestrian and dating back to Phoenician times.
World-class museums like these opening in Málaga were a revolution for the city. Málaga’s tide started to turn with the 2003 opening of the Museo Picasso Málaga in a 16th-century palace in the historical center. Picasso was born in the city and lived there with his family for about a decade, and many of the museum’s more than 200 works were donated by his daughter-in-law and grandson Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso.
Although there are other Picasso museums including one in Paris, Málaga’s is unique because of the artist’s connection to the city.
More museums over the next decade continued to follow Picasso’s. Also in the historical center and in a 16th-century building like the Museo Picasso’s is the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, which opened in 2011, and is home to more than 200 works of Spanish art. Two of the most prominent institutions arrived in March 2015: the Centre Pompidou Málaga, the first branch of the Paris museum outside of France, and the Collection of the Russian Museum St. Petersburg/Málaga, also a first venture outside of Russia for the State Russian Museum.
These museums undoubtedly have made Málaga culturally relevant.