The hilltop defence complex that once made Málaga so impregnable features not one but two great Moorish structures. Built in the 10th century by the Caliph of Cordoba, the Gibralfaro castle was enlarged in the 14th century by the Sultan of Granada, when Málaga was the capital of the kingdom of Granada. It took three months for the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella to take the castle from the Moors in the famous Siege of Málaga in 1487 – and even then, they only won because their besieged foes ran out of food and water. As you walk along the battlements, surveying the landscape and ocean stretching out for miles in every direction, you will appreciate the Catholic monarchs’ difficulties. Like the Alcazaba, the Gibralfaro is exceptionally well preserved, and has been expertly restored where necessary, making it one of Andalusia’s finest Moorish monuments.
Castillo de Gibralfaro, Camino Gibralfaro, s/n, Málaga, Spain +34 952 22 72 30
If you walk down from the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle you will arrive right next to another of Málaga’s architectural wonders: the Roman amphitheatre is the oldest monument in the city and one of the few remaining Roman structures in Andalusia. It was built during the 1st century AD and was continually used until the 3rd century AD, after which it fell into misuse until the Moors settled in Málaga in the early 8th century. Instead of using it as a place of entertainment, they raided it for material with which to build the Alcazaba fortress. Not until 1951 was it rediscovered, during construction works for an arts centre, and it opened to the public only in 2011 after a complicated and lengthy restoration. There’s a visitors’ centre, but this great Roman landmark can be contemplated for free from Calle Alcazabilla or from the terrace of El Pimpi, Málaga’s most famous restaurant.
Teatro Romano, Calle Alcazabilla, s/n, Málaga, Spain +34 951 50 11 15
From the turrets of the Gibralfaro castle you can survey another of Málaga’s key architectural attractions: Spain’s oldest continually operated port. It has been in use since the Phoenicians occupied Málaga in the 10th century BC, and was crucial to the prosperity of the Moorish Kingdom of Granada, of which Málaga was the capital, during the 13th and 14th centuries. In recent years, an ambitious renovation has transformed it into one of the most exciting and attractive parts of the city. The balmy ‘Palm Garden of Surprises’ now runs alongside the main promenade, on which welcome shade is provided by a sleek white canopy. At the far end of the promenade is the Paseo del Muelle Uno, a classy shopping area and restaurant-packed thoroughfare that leads to the beach; from its sun-soaked terraces you can watch the world’s largest yachts and cruise liners drop anchor in southern Spain’s greatest port.