When you walk around Malaga nowadays it’s difficult to believe that the city was once entirely enclosed by walls. Most of the high,thick defensive walls have disappeared completely, but if you know where to look and keep your eyes open you can spot some impressive remains of one of the historic sights in Malaga.
Here is our guide to where to see the walls as you walk around Malaga.
The original layout
The Phoenicians were the first to build walls in Malaga, a practice that both the Romans and Moors continued as they needed to defend their city. Most of the full-circle of walls was built during the Moorish reign in Malaga and lasted for several centuries until the city began to grow.
Malaga expanded in several directions, particularly north in the old quarter and west across the Guadalmina River, both beyond the walls. The city also began to look south to the sea to gain land and by the 18th century, the city walls were no longer in use.
To get the best idea of what the walled city of Malaga looked like in Moorish times, head for the Gibralfaro Castle. Inside the fortress there’s a good historical exhibition that includes a model and map of the city showing where the walls originally went. These help you get your bearings.
You’ll probably be surprised to discover how much of Malaga city centre has been gained from the sea. The map clearly shows that the Mediterranean used to lap at the feet of Atarazanas, the dockyards during Moorish times and now as the largest indoor market in Malaga. The entrance to the market on the south side is one of the original gates to the walled city.
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Fortress and Castle
Two of the best historic sights in Malaga, the Alcazaba Fortress and Gibralfaro Castle, dominated the walled city of Malaga from their privileged hilltop position. And this is one of the places in the city where you can best see the walls.
The Alcazaba has its own set of walled defences – you can walk along some of them when you visit the Fortress. These are further fortified by the walls around the Gibralfaro Castle, once defended by another set of walls on the sea side.
Top tip: take a walk around the entire perimeter of the Gibralfaro Castle along the walls, complete with turrets and battlements. Not only do you get to soak up some history you can also enjoy 360-degree views of Malaga centre, the Mediterranean coast and the Malaga mountains inland. Choose a clear day for the best vistas.
This street that runs along the north side of the old quarter boasts the best-preserved section of walls in Malaga. Walk along the street and keep your eyes open for the walls, heavily restored but still magnificent. This section runs for just 8 metres along the street but the height of the walls (15 metres) and their width (4 metres) give you a good idea of what the original walled city of Malaga must have looked like.
There are several places in Malaga where you can see the original walls, both Roman and Moorish.
Calle Arco de la Cabeza – this pedestrian street running parallel to Calle Carretería contains some of the original walls. They’re in urgent need of restoration and have been incorporated into newer buildings but they still give you an insight into the Moorish walls.
Music Museum – at the back of the museum behind the shop, you can see a stretch of medieval wall including original 11th century stones lit up under the glass floor.
Top tip: carry on walking southwest along Calle Arco de la Cabeza and visit the Oratorio de Santa María Reina church with its stunning ceiling frescos and then continue round the corner to take a look at an amazing vertical garden in Malaga.
- Picasso Museum – the basement of the Picasso Museum has an impressive stretch of Roman walls, viewable during Museum opening times.
- Plaza de la Marina car park – the illuminated section of the Roman walls found when this car park was excavated is worth seeking out.
- Hotel Vincci Posada del Patio – the basement at this 5-star hotel in Malaga contains an original stretch of Roman walls.
- University of Malaga – the ground floor at the headquarters on the Paseo del Parque showcases original remains of both Roman and Phoenician walls.