We shall begin our visit on the main street of the city, calle Marqués de Larios. This is one of Málaga's major commercial arteries and firms of recognized national and international prestige have opened shops here. This street, which opened in 1891, is characteristic of 19th-century urban redevelopment. It breaks away from the Arabic street plan in this area and cuts a direct route to the port.
Going along the street, we come to plaza de la Constitución, the heart of Málaga's historic quarter.
As it is still early, we can take a break to enjoy a typical Málaga breakfast at any of the cafes that we find in the area. Some good coffee with churros( deep fried pastry) or a pitufo (toasted sandwich) will be just the thing. But, you have to know how to order coffee in Málaga, because, depending on the proportion of coffee, it has one name or another. For example, a "café mitad" is half coffee and half milk and a "sombra" is three quarters milk and one quarter coffee. On the other hand, if there is more coffee than milk, it would be a "largo" and so on, with up to nine different ways to order a coffee. But, we have three days left to get used to this peculiarity, which is unique to Málaga.
Now we've recharged our batteries, we take the narrow calle Santa María (eastwards) that opens out near the Catedral de la Encarnación (Cathedral of the Incarnation) and the Cathedral Museum.
Although work on the Cathedral began on the site of the old Arab mosque by order of the Catholic Monarchs during the Gothic period (16th Century), the building is in the Renaissance style and is still unfinished. In 1782, when the budget ran out, the works were stopped, and, among other things, the south tower was never built. This earned the building its popular nickname "The Manquita" (One-Armed).
Opposite the cathedral is the la plaza del Obispo on whose north side we see the Palacio Episcopal.(Bishop's Palace).
This palace is actually a set of terraced buildings whose main front façade is one of the most beautiful example of Málaga's Baroque architecture.
We walk around the Cathedral along calle Santa María, where we admire the majestic Elizabethan facade of the Sagrario (the Shrine) and then we go down calle Císter. Going further along the same street and turning right on calle Afligidos, we come to the Museo Revello de Toro. Here we can admire the wonderful works of Málaga's famous portrait and figurative painter, Felix Revello de Toro. Going back to calle Císter, we walk a few more metres to the east to the Palacio de la Aduana (1826), future home of the Museum of Málaga. The museum will showcase the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Málaga.
Next to this, at the entrance to calle Alcazabilla, is our next goal: The Alcazaba which, together with the Castle of Gibralfaro and the Roman Theatre, are the city's most important archaeological sites.
The Alcazaba, built between the 11th and 15th centuries, was the fortress-palace of the Muslim rulers. It is located on the site of an earlier Phoenician building at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro, a privileged spot overlooking the city. The museum houses an interesting exhibition hall, where ceramics from 11th-15th century Muslim Málaga are displayed.
The palace is connected to the Gibralfaro Castle by a steep mountain passage. However, we can easily reach the hilltop fortress by public transport. We'll do that later.
TheRoman Theatre, the third element in this group of monuments, is located at the foot of the Alcazaba, and is an essential visit on leaving the fortress. Built in the first century BC during the time of Augustus I, it was in use until the third century AD After its recent restoration, Málaga's Roman Theatre regained its use as a performance space.
Following calle Alcazabilla to the north we reach the plaza de la Merced where we join the Málaga Picasso Route that begins at the Fundación Picasso (Picasso Foundation). Museo Casa Natal. (Picasso's Birthplace Museum) A 19th-century building where the artist was born and lived until 1884. Original works by Pablo Ruiz Picasso from the museum's permanent collection and temporary exhibitions are displayed here. These include ceramics, prints and illustrated books, as well as personal items belonging to the painter and his family.
Crossing the Plaza de la Merced, we enter calle Granada. A few metres along the street we see the iglesia de Santiago (Church of Santiago) where Picasso was baptized. Of Mudejar Gothic style, the church was begun in 1487, the same year in the Catholic Monarchs took Málaga, making it one of the oldest churches in the city. The wealth of artistic value conferred by being home to some of the most important processional brotherhoods during Málaga's Holy Week are added to its architectural beauty.
About 200 metres from the church and on the left, we reach the narrow calle de San Agustín and the Palacio de Buenavista home of the Museo Picasso Málaga.
It is a building with 16th-century Renaissance decoration, beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling and a lookout tower; the Palacio has been extended by incorporating other buildings to house the Málaga Picasso Museum collection.
Opened in 2003, this museum displays over 200 works by Picasso, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and ceramics that are part of the permanent collection, along with pieces from temporary exhibitions.
Now, the time has come to take a break and enjoy the varied and rich local and international cuisine at one of the many places in the historic quarter of Málaga. Fried fish, ajo blanco, Málaga salad ... And all accompanied by our delicious wines.
We now set off for our next goal: Castillo de Gibralfaro (Gibralfaro Castle). To reach the Castle, we again go down calle Larios, which is always bustling with commercial activity. In fact, we will have observed bustle and activity all along the way, and perhaps we took the opportunity to do some shopping in some of the city's many excellent shops.
Having reached the Plaza de la Marina, we go towards the entrance of the paseo del Parque in the east, where the number 35 bus will take us to the Castillo de Gibralfaro.
Abd-ar-Rahman III turned the ruins on top of this mountain, which included a Phoenician lighthouse, into a fortress; the lighthouse gave the place its Arabic name, "Jabal Faruh" (Mount Lighthouse). Later in 1340, the Nasrid King Yusuf I extended it and built the castle. In the visitor centre, housed in the former magazine of the castle, there is an exhibition reviewing everyday military life throughout the fortress' history.
But above all, we can enjoy the stunning views over the city and the bay of Málaga, where we will be able to identify all the places we have visited and those we shall visit later on.
After admiring the view, we take the bus back to the city and get off at the stop in front of the "Malagueta" Plaza de Toros (neo-mudejar style, 1874). In the Bullring is the Museo Taurino Antonio Ordóñez, (Antonio Ordóñez Bullfighting Museum) where you can admire stunning costumes, beautiful capes and historic bullfighting posters, among other pieces.
Our next destination is very close: the Museo del Patrimonio Municipal de Málaga (Municipal Heritage Museum of Málaga MUPAM). The MUPAM is within easy reach of the Plaza de Toros eastward along the Paseo de Reding.
This museum, opened in 2007, exhibits a permanent collection of the City's artistic-historical heritage from the 15th century to the present day.
Our next goal is just across the street. We cross the Paseo del Parque and enter the Paseo de la Farola, that leads to the place it was named after. La Farola (1817), is the symbol of the city of Málaga par excellence.
From the Farola we can enjoy stunning views of the Port of Málaga and the Historic Quarter, to which we return along Muelle 1. This promenade has a shopping and entertainment area where we can do some shopping in the exclusive establishments, or stop and rest at any of the bars and restaurants by the sea.
We continue our route along Muelle 2, which is now a boulevard called El Palmeral de las Sorpresas. This is a very pleasant area for walking and relaxing, in which, among other facilities, we find the Museo Alborania. Aula del Mar (Alboarania Museum and Maritime Learning Centre), which offers a unique interactive experience in which we can discover the extraordinary fauna and flora of the Alboran Sea.
And now it is time enjoy a night in Málaga.
We can take advantage of this second day to visit traditional Málaga and see some of the city's interesting museums.
From the Plaza de la Merced we take calle Álamos and, a little later, visit the Museo de Arte Flamenco Peña Juan Breva. (Juan Breva Group Flamenco Art Museum) in calle Ramón Franquelo. Peña Juan Breva. (Juan Breva Group) Occupying two floors, it displays works of art and several valuable guitars, and especially, a collection of thousands of 78 records and as many, more recent, vinyl ones. Then we head southwards down calle Beatas, parallel to calle Alamos, where we reach the Museo Interactivo de la Música (Interactive Museum of Music). MIMMA. It contains an important collection of musical instruments from around the world and of all ages, many of which can be played.
We go westward, back to calle Álamos , till we reach calle Dos Aceras. But before that we will stop off and visit the Teatro Cervantes, built in 1870 by Jerónimo Cuervo. A National Historic Monument, the theatre is distinguished by the amount and diversity of the activities that take place there: symphonies, dramas, comedies, operas, ballets, jazz, flamenco, rock concerts, musicals and shows of all kinds, and it is the major venue of the Málaga Festival of Spanish Cinema.
We will continue west until we get to calle Dos Aceras. At this point we will head to the Iglesia de San Felipe Neri (18th Century), which after its recent restoration, has recovered all of its Baroque splendour. The square that opens opposite the main gate of the temple is our first goal: Museo del Vidrio y Cristal.
(Museum of Glassware). Located in a beautiful eighteenth century mansion, this is the only museum of its kind in Andalusia, and exhibits pieces and decorative objects from antiquity to the present day.
We walk down alle Dos Aceras and, heading south, we follow calle Carretería . This street and the surrounding ones, follow the outline of the wall of the Muslim Medina; some of its remains can be seen along the way.
But before entering calle Carretería, we turn slightly to the left and look for Muro de San Julián and the Museum of the Málaga Holy Week.
This museum is housed in the old Hospital de San Julian, a late 17th-century building whose church contains an important collection of paintings and is designed as a space to present the history and heritage of Holy Week. It is divided into seven rooms that offer visitors an interesting tour of the history and development of Holy Week in Málaga. It is one of the most representative religious artistic exhibits in Spain.
We leave the building and enter calle Carretería; halfway down and on the right we find calle Biedmas that takes us to the plaza de los Viñeros and the Museo del Vino Málaga (Málaga Wine Museum), and our next stop. Here we shall discover all the secrets of making this famous wine and, having tasted the different varieties, we can buy a few bottles of the ones we like best. A real pleasure.
We continue along the route of the old wall to the river and, going south by the Pasillo de Santa Isabel, we come to the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Museum of Popular Arts), located in a former 17th-century inn. A journey through the history of 19th-century Málaga and its folk customs.
We now head south towards the Alameda Principal. But first, let's take a break to visit the Mercado de Atarazanas (Atarazanas Market), so called because it occupies the site where the Nasrid shipyards stood. The main gate has been preserved. People always say that if you want to know a city well, the first thing you should do is visit the market.
It is time to approach the sea and taste its delicious fruits. And we will do so at one of Málaga's most popular areas: the Paseo Marítimo de Pedregalejo (Pedregalejo Promenade).
On the southern side of the Alameda Principal, we take a number 11 or 34 bus that takes us to the Pedregalejo beaches. Here we can enjoy Málaga's most characteristic gastronomy in the "chiringuitos" (beach bars) and restaurants by the sea: anchovies, skewers of meat and fish, conchas finas clams, Málaga fried fish... A delight for all our senses. But we still have important things to do this afternoon.
Back in the centre of town, the bus will drop us off at the Plaza de la Marina at the entrance to calle Larios, that we know so well, by which we arrive at the Plaza de la Constitution. Our goal: the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga.To reach it, we go west along calle Companía.
This museum, located in the Palacio de Villalón (16th century), has a permanent collection of over 200 works, the most comprehensive collection of 19th-century Andalusian painting in Spain. Here are works by great artists such as Valeriano Domínguez- Becquer, Eugenio Lucas Velázquez, Julio Romero de Torres and Joaquin Sorolla, among others. The museum also has a carefully selected program of temporary exhibitions of unquestionable artistic interest. A visit to the Carmen Thyssen Málaga Museum is essential.
And since we are in the city centre, we can spend the rest of the evening strolling along the shopping streets and discover beautiful spots among the winding backstreets, while we enjoy tapas in the bars and Restaurants that we will discover along our way.
A good start would be to visit the pasaje de Chinitas, by going through the large stone arch at the eastern side of plaza de la Constitución. This arch is all that is left of the main door of the church that belonged to the Convent of the Discalced Augustinians (1628), whose plot of land encompassed the entire block as far as calles Santa Maria, Fresca and del Toril. But its name comes from the legendary "Café de Chinitas" that used to be in the Passage. A musical café where live acts performed between 1857-1937 and that was immortalized by the great poet Federico García Lorca in his poem dedicated to the bullfighter Paquiro.
If we continue from the Plaza de la Constitution along calle Granada, the street widens. In fact we have come to two small, consecutive squares. The first and oldest is the plaza del Carbón, whose name comes from a large coal yard that delivered coal to the cauldron-makers' forges that were to be found in calle Calderería, after Málaga was taken by the Catholic Monarchs. There is evidence that in 1585 the square was called Peso del Carbón. Next to it stands plaza del Siglo between the junction of calles Molina Lario and Duque de la Victoria.
Calle Correo Viejo, where the Post Office was located in the late 19th century makes a beautiful corner in this square. As stated on the commemorative plaque on the facade, José Marqués de Salamanca was born at number 11 of this street in 1811. He later became finance minister, and architect and, among his many other achievements, is the construction of the famous Salamanca district in Madrid.
Leaving this square and going down calle Granada, on the right we come to calle Echegaray site of the wonderful Teatro Echegaray. Several other interesting places make this pedestrian street a very pleasant place to stroll. The theatre, a magnificent example of neo-plateresque style, was inaugurated in November 1932. The plinths came from Belgium and the stained glass from Paris. The mahogany balustrades complete an original design by Málaga architect Manuel Rivera Vera. In 2009 the theatre reopened after a full renovation.
We can spend the day to get away and see Málaga from another point of view. We can visit the Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción (La Concepción Historical-Botanical Gardens).
This is the most beautiful and important tropical garden in Europe and was created in 1855 by the Marquises of Casa Loring, the owners of the land. Thanks to their relationship with leading European figures, the Marquises cultivated the most exotic species brought from around the world. Fruit trees, bamboos, palms, vines, Mediterranean plants, aquatic plants, and many others have created different environments in which we can stroll and learn. Charming settings with ponds, fountains, waterfalls, bridges, greenhouses, statues... A true spectacle of nature. At the same time, the couple were compiling an extraordinary collection of archaeological pieces, creating what would become the Lonringiano museum, part of whose collection is still on display today.
After visiting this fascinating garden, we return to our starting point, the Alameda Principal, and head for our next goal. Going west we reach the river and follow its course to the calle Alemania where we find theCAC Málaga - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga - (Contemporary Art Centre of Málaga). Installed in the former wholesale market, the Centre exhibits works by the best foreign and national contemporary artists. Since its inception, it has become an international benchmark, not only for its permanent collection of major artists such as Juan Muñoz, Tony Cragg, or Sigmar Polke, but for the educational work it conducts and the very interesting temporary exhibitions of great figures from the world art scene. In the approaches to the Centre, the "Man Moving" by Stephan Balkenhol, and "La Sombra Azul" by Chema Alvargonzález are Málaga's new contemporary milestones.
Now it is time to replenish our energy. We can choose to enjoy a few tapas in the excellent bars and restaurants in the surroundings of the CAC Málaga (Soho district) or go and see the sea and enjoy a delicious seafood paella on the beach. If we choose the second option, this time we'll go to the Poniente beaches. To do so, we go back to the Alameda Principal, and take the number 16 bus that takes us to the new paseo marítimo de Poniente, and La Misericordia and San Andrés beaches. Our afternoon's goal is not far: the Museo Automovilístico de Málaga (Automobile Museum of Málaga).
From the beach restaurant, we go to Avenida Sor Teresa Prat , where we find one Málaga's landmark buildings, the former Real Fábrica de Tabacos (Royal Tobacco Factory). The building dates from 1923 and houses the surprising Automobile Museum of Málaga, which opened in September 2010.
A singular collection with over 90 unique car models in which mythical brands such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Rolls Royce and Porsche, among others, illustrate the aesthetic evolution of the automobile through ten themed rooms. The museum also features a unique display of engines converted to art and over 300 original hats from the 20s to the 50s by great designers such as Dior, Chanel and Balenciaga among others. Sublime.
Our stay comes to an end. Our days have been rather hectic, but we're full of experiences, unique experiences, unforgettable experiences. However, there is still much more to see and feel in Málaga.
We must return.