Málaga has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but it was with the arrival of the Phoenicians and their Malaka colony settlement in the Guadalhorce estuary area of natural beauty (Paraje Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce) that the city's first foundations were laid.
Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Iberians in Málaga.
These Semitic traders established several colonies in the area because there was plenty of wood for smelting and a fishing industry for making purple dye or salting. After the Carthaginians started to dominate trade in the second half of the 6th century, the Phoenician colonies were abandoned and the Carthaginians settled in the southern Spanish coast.
During the centuries as from the late the late 6th century BC until the change of the era, Málaga's territories were occupied by two kinds of people: those who lived in the coastal area known as Lybio-Phoenicians and those who lived inland who were referred to as the indigenous people, Iberians or turdetani.
The Roman conquest
At the end of the 3rd century AC, Romans started to fight the Carthaginians, dominating the area and unifying its people. Latin was imposed and the life and customs of the inhabitants changed. Málaga became part of Hispania Ulterior.
The Roman Empire
After two centuries of domination, Málaga was beginning to enjoy new communication routes that connected it to other territories. New legal statutes were received including the Lex Flavia Malacitana (municipal code of law, which granted free-born persons the privileges of Roman citizenship) enacted in the year 81. Some fragments of this law can still be read today in the Interpretation Centre of the Roman Theatre of Málaga.
Here we can observe remains from this era as well as the Roman Theatre itself, one of the city's most important monuments and still used as a performance space today. The garum pools that were used to make Roman fish paste can also be admired in the glass prism in Calle Alcazabilla. Garum was a very important part of the economy throughout Málaga's Roman history and was exported to many parts of the Empire.
The Later Empire
Great changes occurred in all areas of the Empire throughout the 3rd and 4th centuries. This also affected long-established beliefs and Christianity started to spread significantly. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Byzantium dominated the area until expelled by the Visigoths in the early 7th century.