11 Reasons Why You Will Love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain – @ Mediterranean’s Costa del Sol

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Port of Malaga, Malaga, Spain

Located in the city of Malaga in Southern Spain along the Costa del Sol region of Mediterranean Sea is the Port of Malaga. Considered as one of the oldest ports along the Mediterranean, its activities include cruise shipping, general cargo, containerized products, crude oil and small fishing fleet. Founded by the Phoenicians in 1000 B.C., it was used as a trading area for salt. Because of this ancient business, the place was called “Malaka” (which was a Phoenician term for salt). When the Romans took over the city, they made the Port of Malaga an important export area for minerals, ceramics, almond nuts, wine and oil. It continued to grow until the Islamic period. When Malaga became a Catholic stronghold in 1487, this port became an embarkation area for Spanish soldiers. It developed swiftly through the 16th-17th centuries as Spain’s major export area for cereals. In the 20th century, the Port of Malaga was modernized. The Puertollano oil pipeline was completed in 1920 to allow oil export directly from the port. However it stopped operation in the late ’90s. Nowadays, the Port of Malaga is one of the most important ports of call for cruise liners and a very popular tourist destination.

As I have mentioned earlier, the city of Malaga was founded by the Phoenicians and named it Malaka about 1000 B.C. Malaga‘s history spans about 3,000 years which make it one of the oldest cities in the world. It is the most populous city in the Andalusian region next to Seville and the 6th largest in Spain. Malaga city is the capital of its namesake province, Malaga. At one point, the Greeks and Carthaginians stayed briefly in the city to further established Malaga as a trading post. The Romans conquered until AD 81 where they changed the name of Malaka to Flavia Malacita. It was during their reign that the Port of Malaga was established including the Roman amphitheater. The Moors came between 714-716 AD and they built the fortress of Alcazaba. It took close to a 100 years before the Christians took over the city. And in 1487, under Ferdinand and Isabela, trade with the Americas was opened which made Malaga prosperous. It became the forefront of Spanish industrial revolution in the 19th century. A recession brought a sudden change of fortune to the city in the late 1800s. Then the early 20th century was a difficult time for Malaga – Spanish flu pandemic and natural disasters took its toll on the city. It also suffered terribly during the Spanish civil war and fell under the Franco regime in the 1930s. But in the 1950s, it saw the beginning of an era when tourism took off in the Costa del Sol region. Malaga became famous as a tourist destination in the 1960s with hotels and resorts burgeoning all over the city. Costa del Sol became a tourist hub in all of Europe.

I was in Malaga in 1999 while under contract with the oil tanker M/T Knock Sheen. One of the oldest Mediterranean seaports, the landscape of Malaga mirrors its colored past – Moorish castles and forts, Roman ruins, Renaissance cathedral. But beyond history, Malaga offers an astonishing panorama of the fantastic Costa del Sol mixed with its sensational culture and awesome strip of beaches. The city is also known as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, the famous Spanish artist and sculptor. Malaga also gave to the world the handsome Hollywood boqueron (or Malagenio), actor Antonio Banderas. For Antonio, Malaga is his “la ciudad que tanto ama” and he love his town to the full. Discover the 11 reasons why you too will love Antonio Banderas’, Malaga, Spain.

Map of Southern Spain with the city of Malaga.

Calle Larios, Malaga’s High Street

Visiting Malaga is not complete without exploring Calle Larios. This is the epicenter of business and shopping in the Costa del Sol region. Named after the Larios family, the main movers and shakers of Malaga‘s economy during the 19th century, this street has also maintained the elegance of that century’s architecture without compromising the modernity of its exclusive brands and growth of local traders. A pedestrian only shopping area, which is also a great place to just sit, relax and watch people pass by is a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

Indulge With Churros And Jamon Iberico

Churros, the Spanish doughnut which Malagenios enjoy all year round. They are not only street food but considered as a savory breakfast as well. Churros are served with hot chocolate or “cafe con leche” (for dipping). Jamon Iberico on the other hand is Malaga‘s version of the Spanish ham. They are paper-thin ham slices with its smoky and semi-sweet flavor you will love to nibble for more than just a slice. Costa del Sol is unforgettable and the food is exquisite, a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

Jamon Iberico

Pablo Picasso, Malaga’s Most Talented Son

Pablo Picasso, of course everyone is familiar with that name. Spain’s world famous painter and sculptor was born on October 25, 1881 at Plaza de la Merced in Malaga. These days, his boyhood home has been turned into a museum. But his real name actually is, take a deep breath..Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Jura Nepomoceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Martir Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso. Whew! Got It? At the beginning of his career, he used to sign his works with P. Ruiz. In later years, he decided to use his mother’s surname Picasso so as to distinguish his paintings from those his father who is also an artist. He will always be remembered for his unique style, cubism. This kind of painting makes use of Expressionism or Surrealism. Growing up in Malaga, he loved to draw the pigeons at Plaza de la Merced. This love for the doves made him name his beloved daughter Paloma (the style icon and fragrance mogul). Don’t leave Malaga without visiting Museo del Pablo, a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

Picasso’s Weeping Woman, 1937, a sample of his cubism style.
The doves at Plaza de la Merced in Malaga that were inspirations of most of Picasso’s paintings.
Paloma Picasso

Jardin del Retiro, Most Beautiful Garden In Spain

Arguably the prettiest garden in all of Spain, Jardin del Retiro is a botanical garden cum aviary located at the city center of Malaga. It is about 350 years old and spans a huge 140,000 square meters of land area. It contains about 60,000 different species of animals, birds and fishes and the grounds are famous for the rare contrast of French, English, Italian and Moroccan styles. Declared a National Historic Monument in 1984, this 17th century park also features subtropical gardens and trees. Among its rare features is El Olmo, a 200-year old elm tree. Jardin del Retiro, the most beautiful botanical garden and park in the Iberian peninsula is a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.T

Wander At The Automobile And Fashion Museum

Take note vintage car aficionados. Here in the city of Malaga, you can check out the classic cars at the Automobile & Fashion Museum. Along the Avenida de Sor Teresa Prat de Tabacalera, this museum which was once a tobacco factory has a collection of almost a hundred classic cars. Also on display are high-fashion clothes throughout the years that matches with each car collection. And we’re not talking here of just any old fashion design. They are haute -couture clothes from Dior, Chanel, Gucci, et. al., placed beside a shining Belle Epoque (1898), to a 1939 Lancia or 1961 Aston Martin. All the vintage cars on display are in perfect condition (see your reflection on their shiny exteriors) and many of them are associated with the world’s famous names. Roosevelt, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwartznegger and other important names have their place in the museum. Whatever your age or taste, the Automobile and Fashion Museum makes a good sightseeing trip and a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

Alcazaba, The Most Magnificent Moorish Fortress In Andalusia

Dominating the Gilfarfaro hillside on the eastern part of the city of Malaga is Alcazaba Fortress. It was once a working fortress and living quarters at the same time during the Islamic conquest in Spain. Related to the Alcazar in Seville wherein both fortresses have a cultural connection with its Moorish past. Sevilla and Malaga of the Andalusian region were once Muslim enclaves in Spain. In the 11th century, a war broke among the small Muslim kingdoms (taifa) in Andalusia and the Berber king of Malaga ordered for the construction of Alcazaba. Using the marble columns and statues from the ruined Roman amphitheater below Gilfarfaro mountains, the Alcazaba has a double ring of walls, towers and fortresses to defend Malaga from attacks. Considered the most difficult fortress to conquer in Spain during the Middle Ages, the outer part was used for military purposes. The inner part has the Castle Gilfarfaro, coracha-walled corridor, gardens and dungeons- used as prison cells for Catholic girls. Alcazaba went into decline after the Catholic conquest in 1487. It was later abandoned but restored in the 20th century. Once you enter the main gate, you will visit two different parts. The fortress with its narrow maze-like corridors and the palace with its beautiful garden, impressive architectural style and the breathtaking view towards Malaga Port and Costa del Sol. Alcazaba, one of the most important Muslim heritage in Andalusia is a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas, Malaga, Spain.

A detail inside the Alcazaba Fortress.

Ronda, Where Ernest Hemingway Used As A Setting For His Novels

A village near the city of Malaga, Ronda has a very spectacular setting. Perched high on top of the deep Guadalevin River and can be accessed via the stunning 18th century Puento Nuevo stone bridge. Aside from its rich cultural and literary tradition, Ronda is the home of Spain’s modern bullfighting. The American writer, Ernest Hemingway was so in love with the village of Ronda that he spent most summers of his life in this pretty town. In fact he used it as a setting for most of his novels like “For Whom The Bell Tolls” of which are actual events in Ronda. The queen of pop Madonna also shot her music video “Take A Bow” in Ronda in 1994. She appeared with the Spanish “torero” (bullfighter) Emilio Munoz. Orson Welles, the US actor cum director and producer also spent many summers in Ronda as a part-time resident. He had written a lot about the beauty and bullfighting tradition of the town. When he died in 1985, his ashes were buried in this town where he had loved the most. Ronda has also a rich culinary tradition and for this reason, the celebrated chef, Jamie Oliver had been to this town when he was in Costa del Sol sometime in 2010. The first episode of his show “Jamie Does” was done in Ronda. The 3rd most-visited tourist destination for its extraordinary landscape, this is the reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

The chef, Jamie Oliver in Ronda.

Ernest Hemingway’s beloved Ronda.

Home of “Hermosa Senyoritas”

Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Munoz of Spain with the former First Lady of the Philippines, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos

Malaguenios are very friendly people no matter what color, religion or country you came from. And Malaga is also the place of “hermosa senyoritas” (beautiful ladies). To my fellow Pinoys, remember Amparo Munoz, the crowned Miss Universe when Manila hosted the first-ever beauty pageant in 1974? She was from Malaga. Mariesol, a former Spanish child star who became the most beautiful actress in Spain also hails from Malaga. The mixture of different racial origins (Moorish, Romans and Castillian) has produced a strong and beautiful ancestry. A reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.


Donkey Ride O Burro Taxi, Lo Que Sera

Near the city of Malaga, at Mijas town, their true hero is the donkey. This village has become famous to tourists due to these dutiful beasts of burden silently rambling around the area. Mijas is the donkey capital of Spain. Where you can explore its charms while riding on a burro taxi. Sometime in the 1960s, this donkey ride culture in Mijas popped up by chance. Mijenios (residents of Mijas) were sitting on their donkeys resting after a day’s work from the farms. Tourists exploring around the area have asked the residents to be photographed beside their donkeys. The farmers realized that the tips given to them by the tourists for posing were higher than their earnings from the fields. And that came up the idea of offering a donkey ride (burro taxi) to visitors. The burro taxi allow tourists to enjoy the attractions of Mijas in a very unique manner. Burro taxi, a very memorable experience you will get in Mijas, and a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

Burro taxi along the cobbled streets of Mijas.

Caminito del Rey, The Most Challenging But Exciting Footpath In The World

At some point, it has been dubbed as “the most scariest footpath in the world.” Between 1901-05, a path was built 100 meters above the Gaitanes River in the city of Malaga. It was to give an access to the workers during the construction of a dam between 2 hydroelectric sites of Chorro and Gaitenejo waterfalls in the area. Spanning the Gaitanes River, this hanging pathway was opened in 1921 by then King Alfonso XIII of Spain, hence it was called Caminito del Rey (the King’s little pathway). Pinned along the steep walls of the narrow Gaitanes River, this walkway is made of hard wood with metal anchors drilled into the rock. Some sections have glass floors so tourists can see the river and the old path built in 1921. Caution is given however to people with vertigo and young children. Caminito del Rey involves an active tourism activity with a level of physical effort. This “risk factor” became the stuff of legends that attracted rock climbers and thrill seekers from around the world. With Caminito del Rey as the world’s scariest walkway, for adrenaline junkies, this is a reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain.

And These Other Unique Singularities

One more reason why you will love Antonio Banderas’ Malaga, Spain is because nowhere in the world you can find these unique staple foods:

“el mora” or the purple/violet carrot

A purple carrot? The truth is that carrots were once violet-colored. The Moors brought these veggies to Spain. It was the Dutch who introduced to the world the orange-colored one. El mora or the purple carrot grown in an area near the banks of the Genil River in Cuevas Bajas, Malaga offers a surprising soft and sweet flavor. They are planted at the beginning of summer (June) and harvested in the last days of fall. And because of its unique characteristics, this purple carrot from Malaga is good for salads, jams, chips and cakes. Every December 1st, the residents of Cuevas de San Marcos in Cuevas Bajas host a carrot picking season. They would invite thousands of visitors to try their homemade products in the Purple Carrot Festival.

tarta malaguenia

A kind of cake which you can only find in Malaga and is made up of marcona almonds, Malaga sweet wine and apricot jam – that is tarta malagenia. You only need to try a bit of a slice as they are sweet. It is topped with moscatel raisins (moscatel grapes are endemic in Malaga) with thinly sliced almonds.

caquis (red persimmon)

Persimmons are actually yellow-orange in color and they originated from Japan. But during autumn in Malaga, it is also the arrival of a feast of seasonal fruits like the caquis. This bright red fruit which is the size of a golf ball has a slight waxy feel on the outside but fibrous in the inside. If you are in Malaga at autumn time, make sure to try this fruit. And you have to choose the brightest red for the best taste.

There was a time when the Spanish poet, Federico Garcia called Malaga a “duende” (spirit). It has always have something special to offer for everyone. Culture, fun, relaxation and the sun. Make sure that you will take your time to explore this friendly and bustling jewel of Costa del Sol one day. Feliz viaje y diviertete.

Reference: Wikipedia

Aerial view to the bullring arena in Malaga and Costa del Sol.