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Málaga in southern Spain is the gateway to lovely Andalusia. It is also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Málaga is more relaxed than Madrid or Barcelona, so it's a perfect destination for people who find those cities a bit too chaotic. The park near the port is one of those quiet spots in the city, where you also have a nice view of the arriving and departing ships.
The city is dominated by Mount Gibralfaro with at the top an ancient Moorish fortress (Alcazaba) and a castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro). Both are well worth a visit and it goes without saying that you have a wonderful view of the city and the Mediterranean from the hill.
The birthplace of one of the 20th century's most famous painters, Pablo Picasso, is located on the Plaza de la Merced. Apart from the interior, it also houses some of Picasso's works. You can see more of his works in the Picasso Museum, which is housed in the Palacio de Buenavista. Other modern artists are exhibited in the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga.
As in many other Spanish cities, the cathedral was built on the spot where during the Moorish rule, used to be a mosque. The church' construction was often suspended and was completely stopped in 1783, due to a lack of money. The cathedral's southern tower was never completed. The Spaniards call it la manquita, or the missing one.
Just west of the cathedral lies the oldest part of the city. You may have some difficulties locating the market in this maze of narrow and winding streets. The covered market with its impressive marble entrance offers all fresh produce from the region, including loads of fish and other seafood, vegetables, fruit and a large flower market. Around the market, you'll find many cozy bars and restaurants.
The nearest beach is La Malagueta, which is quite busy though. More beautiful and quieter beaches can be found further east. The really busy tourist resorts, like Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Marbella and Estepona, are located more west of the city. Marbella – sixty kilometers west of Málaga – is not just a seaside town though. In the city's center you'll find remnants of Roman baths (Las Bóvedas) and an Arab fortress from the 10th century (Murallas del Castillo). Fuengirola also has an Arab fortress that is beautifully restored.
Moorish influences can be found in many cities in southern Spain. The best known examples can be found in Granada – over 130 kilometers from Málaga – with the impressive Alhambra and the ancient Arab neighborhood of Albaicín. Seville has the Giralda Tower, but also the attractive ancient Jewish district Barrio de Santa Cruz.
Spain learned years ago that golfers form an attractive group of tourists. They built golf courses everywhere in the country. Around Málaga there are also many opportunities to practice this sport in often stunning surroundings. Near the city you can choose between two courses: Guadalhorce Golf Club and Parador Malaga de Golf. The lovely Mijas Pueblo also has two golf clubs: Miraflores and La Cala.
Along the freeway from Málaga to Córdoba lies the Parque Natural de los Montes de Málaga. In the Mediterranean forests lives a unique type of mountain goat, the Capra Malagueña. In addition, you'll come across eagles, hawks and buzzards.
The picturesque town of Ronda is located about a hundred kilometers from Málaga, on both sides of a deep ravine that is eroded by the Guadalevín River. Three historic bridges span the ravine: The Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), the Puente Viejo (Old Bridge, also known as Arab Bridge) and the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge). The latter is the highest: 120 meters above the ravine!
Málaga offers a decent amount of hotels, guesthouses and bed & breakfasts. Most hotels can be found alongside the beach and around the pedestrian area in the city center.
First a warning: There are many unofficial parking attendants in Málaga who will try to wheedle you out of money. The city's inhabitants call them gorillas, after a specific baseball cap they wear. Málaga's official parking attendants are members of an organization; you'll recognize them by an emblem showing the acronym ANIC. In addition, finding a parking space out on the street may be difficult, especially in summer. In short, it is easier and safer to park your car in one of the (underground) parking garages in and around the center.
Malaga Airport is located eight kilometers southwest of the city. Málaga and other coastal destinations can be easily reached by rental car. The airport is situated right off the E-15 freeway, which runs along the coast. Málaga Airport is clearly signposted.