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Guide to the Alcazaba Malaga

Guide to the Alcazaba Fortress

The Alcazaba Fortress dominates the hillside on the eastern side of the city and rates as one of the most interesting things to see in Malaga. Inside, you get a glimpse of a working fortress as well as sumptuous living quarters decorated in true Moorish style.

In this guide, we look at a bit of history, recommend the Alcazaba’s highlights and offer some top tips.

A bit of history

In the Al-Andalus era, defensive positions were a priority. As a result, the Moors chose Malaga city’s only hilltop for the fortress. The sweeping views from the top take into the ocean and the inland plain. You also have a good vantage point over the mountains in the east.

Malaga’s strategic position on the Mediterranean needed a fortress to defend itself and the Alcazaba was born. The city never equalled the dizzy heights of Granada and Seville in importance for the Moors. However, it still ranked among the most prominent places in Al-Andalus.

Entrance to Alcazaba Fortress in Malaga
Keyhole arch entrance to the Alcazaba

Building work started on the fortified citadel in the 8th century, but work on the inner palace wasn’t take part until 1057. Here, you’ll find fountains, courtyards and patio gardens, decorated in the formal style. On the walls are motifs in stucco, with inscriptions from the Coran.

Once the Moors left, Malaga more or less turned its back on the Alcazaba, left to fall into ruin. However, in the 1930s, major restoration took place, returning the fortress to its former glory.

Visiting the Alcazaba

Your visit starts at the entrance on Calle Alcazabilla and a bargain admission price. How many cities charge just over €3 to visit one of their best monuments?

You then pass through several defensive archways before you reach the lower part of the fortress. Pause here to climb the walls where you get good views of Malaga old quarter.

View of Alcazaba Fortress walls from inside
View of Alcazaba Fortress walls from inside

While on the walls, admire the extraordinary roof on the Palacio de la Aduana. You can’t miss the vast stretch of silver and blue flashing in the sunlight. The 6,000 aluminium tiles that make up the roof have a picture of the building engraved on them. Look carefully to make it out.

The Palacio de la Aduana is home to the Museum of Malaga, well worth a visit.

Next you walk through a succession of gateways, patios and gardens. These are at their best in spring when the scent of orange blossom accompanies you everywhere, but the vibrant bougainvillea are good almost all year round.

We love the sense of peace and tranquility at the Alcazaba Fortress. It’s usually pretty quiet, especially if you go first or last thing, allowing you to get a feel for the place and soak up the Moorish atmosphere.

The Palace

The palace itself is at the top of the climb and worth the effot. The rooms and courtyards aren’t on a par with those in the Alhambra in Granada or Los Reales Alcázares in Seville, but they have their own charm. And the stuccowork on the walls and ceilings is lovely.

One of the courtyards
One of the courtyards

You’ll see information panels in Spanish and English as you walk around. The palace also houses an interesting collection of original Moorish pottery and ceramics . These pieces were found during excavations on the site during the 1930s.

The views

The views of Malaga from the palace course are great. Our favourite is the vista of the west of Malaga framed by one of the characteristic horseshoe arches.

Views of Malaga from the Alcazaba
Views of Malaga Port from the Alcazaba

Discover what else to see in Malaga

Top tips

  • Allow between 1 and 2 hours for your visit.
  • Wear comfortable footwear and watch your step as the ground is uneven on the way up and down to the palace.
  • Visit first or last thing for the best light for views. Sunset is particularly good during the winter months.
  • If you’re on a budget take your own refreshments. Pricey food and drink is available at a café onsite, although we think the chance to sit and look at the lovely views below makes up for the bill.
  • Night time visits are occasionally possible. Check at the tourist office for details.
The Alcazaba Fortress at night
The Alcazaba Fortress at night

Admission

€3.50 or €5.50 if you buy a combo Alcazaba-Gibralfaro ticket.

Free on Sunday after 2pm.

Opening times

1 April-31 October daily 9am-20pm; 1 November-31 March daily 9am-6pm. Last entrance 30 mins before closing time.

Length of visit

Allow a whole morning or afternoon to visit both of these monuments in Malaga. The Alcazaba Fortress takes around an hour and a half to visit as does the Gibralfaro, longer if you have refreshments.

Accessibility

Unfortunately, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro are not accessible for wheelchair users. Both monuments have lots of steps, so wear sturdy shoes and hold on to handrails when you’re climbing up and down.

Read about accessible Malaga

Cafés

Both monuments have refreshment venues serving hot and cold drinks plus light snacks. The Gibralfaro café has particularly lovely views and friendly staff.

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