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Costa del Sol - Malaga
The Costa del Sol goes well beyond the stereotype of weather-based travel destinations. Besides mild weather all year round, Málaga Province boasts a huge, interesting, top-rated cultural offer. Visitors will find impressive landmarks of the past, reminding them of ancient Mediterranean civilisations, alongside avant-garde art expressions.
There're several tours you can take to get to know Málaga’s past and discover the city of the Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Arabs. Málaga City features a Roman theatre, an Arab fortress or “Alcazaba”, and the Gibralfaro Castle. Its cathedral –also known as "La Manquita" (The One-Armed Church) since it lacks one of its spires– has a beautiful vaulted dome.
There're other must-visit places in the capital city: the former Customs Building –built in Neoclassical style in the nineteenth century and soon to house the City Museum of Fine Arts– and the Town Hall, “La Casona,” on Paseo del Parque, with its ornate façade and luxurious halls.
Málaga is Pablo Picasso’s birthplace. The house where he was born is now the seat of the Picasso Foundation, in Plaza de la Merced. And the Málaga Picasso Museum contains a collection of 155 works, bequeathed by the painter’s family. It is housed in the Palacio Buenavista, a sixteenth-century Renaissance building.
Contemporary art has found its way into Málaga as well. The Contemporary Arts Centre (CAC) displays avant-garde works produced in the last quarter of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, while the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Prints in Marbella specialises in engravings and graphic arts.
Art galleries and exhibition centres set the pace for cultural life in Málaga. The most prestigious ones lie in the historic district in Málaga City, but there're about twenty in the province.
For visitors who like the performing arts, there’re a great many theatres, auditoriums and convention centres staging excellent shows throughout the province all year round.
Málaga City and Málaga Province host festivals all year round. The Spanish Film Festival, in April, is the most important one. The Theatre Festival, held in January and February, is the oldest, with shows staged at the Cervantes Theatre and the Alameda Theatre, the auditorium of the Picasso Museum, and the CAC.
With regard to music, the “Málaga en Flamenco” biennial claims flamenco as a distinguishing element of Andalusian identity. Its programme includes exhibitions, lectures, publications, and shows throughout the province. Other music festivals are Etnimálaga for ethnic music and Málaga Ritual for religious music from all over the world. The Avant Festival (electronic music) has come to Málaga City from Fuengirola and now takes place at the Cervantes Theatre, while the Málaga International Jazz Festival, also in Málaga City, is staged in November.
Beyond Málaga City, the Cueva de Nerja Festival is worth attending, offering music and dance in a natural setting. In addition, there are flamenco festivals in most towns and districts–Marbella, Guaro, or Valle del Genal, to name but a few.
The first human settlements in Málaga can be dated back to 18000 B.C. Since then, all Mediterranean civilisations have left their mark on the province. Traces of the first men living in the area have come down to us in the form of cave paintings, as those found in Cueva de la Pileta (Benaoján) and Cueva de Nerja, or engravings, as in Cueva de la Trinidad (Ardales). Given their historic importance, the Dolmens in Menga, Viera, and El Romeral (Antequera) are well-known megalithic monuments.
One of the most important archaeological sites of the Phoenicians in the western Mediterranean lies in Algarrobo. It’s the Trayamar Necropolis, whose tombs’ underground chambers display elaborate ashlars. The site corresponding to the ancient Phoenician trading post of Los Toscanos, now Vélez-Málaga, still reveals interesting aspects of this people’s everyday life.
The arrival of Islam in Málaga was a turning point in the province’s cultural heritage. Well-preserved Muslim buildings, revealing the Moors’ advanced engineering knowledge, can be seen here, there and everywhere: the Almocábar gate and the Arab Baths in Ronda, or the Atarazanas gate in Málaga City, opening on the Central Market, are perhaps the finest examples. Next to it there stands the Gibralfaro castle. After the Reconquista, the Catholic King and Queen spent some time here. The building was rehabilitated in the twentieth century. A must-visit for visitors, it commands the best panoramic views of the city from its walls. Fuengirola features the Sohail Castle, an Arab citadel by the river built after one of the first conquests by the Moors.
The Mudejar tour will take you to the hinterlands: Árchez, Macharaviaya, Salares, Sayalonga, and other towns where you can still see Arab remnants in minarets, religious buildings, and urban layouts.
(c) Turismo Costa del Sol/www.visitacostadelsol.com.