The Alcazaba of Malaga, Spain
Why Visit the Alcazaba
- Moorish architecture
- Beautiful gardens
- Medieval air-conditioning
- Adjacent Roman ruins
- Amazing views
- Easily accessible
The Moorish Castle and Gardens of the Alcazaba overlook downtown Malaga, Spain and onto the Mediterranean Sea. Resting on the edge of a hill, it provided a strategic position on the harbor of Malaga.
The conquering Moors from North Africa built the Alcazaba in the 11th century. Part fort, part castle, it protected the interests of the Islamic rulers. The Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, conquered the Alcazaba of Malaga in 1487.
Two thick outer walls protected the inner palace. Today, you can walk along the ramports and look over the fort and the city.
The details of Moorish architecture are readily evident.
Horseshoe arches detail entryways and windows.
Lattice work cover windows.
Tiles cover walls, ceilings, and doors.
Beautiful gardens dot the interior of the palace, providing color and life to the stone structures.
The walls and grounds are covered with the bright red, violet and yellow of flowers, trees, and shrubs.
The Alcazaba of Malaga feels surprisingly cool due to medieval climate control techniques.
Tall walls of pale stone and trees provide cooling shade. Fountains and pools bubble cool water.
A thin stream of water runs in a rut down the hill through the fortress working as an air-conditioner. It was quite amazing and effective.
Adjacent Roman Ruins
A 2000 year old Roman amphitheater sits at the entrance of the Alcazaba of Malaga. Many of the bricks and stones use in building the Alcazaba came from the Roman ruins.
There is no admission charge to the ruins. They are simply a bonus.
Another Moorish castle, Castillo Gibralfaro, rests on the top of the hill, about a 1/2 mile/less than a kilometer from the entrance of the Alcazaba of Malaga. A steep, winding path connects the two.
On the lower portion, the landscaping and flowers delight.
From the upper part, amazing views over the harbor and city await.
You cannot miss the Alcazaba of Malaga. It is easily visible from the port and the city center. You can walk to it from any of the other main sights. For cruise passengers, it couldn’t be easier. Cruise ships dock at the far end of the pier, 1 mile/1.5 km from the edge of the city. The Disney Magic and most other ships provide complementary transportation to the edge of the city, with drop off near the Centre Pampidou. From there, an easy 1/3 mile/1/2 km walks gets you to the entrance.
This was our second time in Malaga. Last year, we chose to visit the beautiful hill town of Mijas. We then wandered the streets, not taking the time to enter the Alcazaba of Malaga. This year, it topped our to do list.
We arrived early and found it uncrowded. Slowly, we meandered through the loop detailed on the map we were given. The map gave brief descriptions. No audio guide was available, but this was okay. It was fun exploring.
The day prior, we had visited the Real Alcazar in Seville. It is impossible not to compare the two. The Real Alcazar is “much more” everything, good and bad: opulent, grand, sprawling, historic,…crowded, hot, time consuming.
While the Alcazaba of Malaga does not have the jaw-dropping glamour of its contemporary, it still provides a wonderful look at the history and architecture of Islamic Spain in a much more relaxed setting.
- You do not need a tour or shore excursion. It is both cheap and easy to tour on your own.
- Give yourself a minimum of an hour and preferably two to explore the Alcazaba of Malaga. Add another hour if you want to climb the winding path to the Castillo Gibralfaro.
- Go in the morning to beat the crowds and heat.
- If staying in Malaga, you should not miss it.
- If arriving by cruise ship, Malaga and the surrounding Andalusian hills have much to see. It warrants consideration.
- To view Moorish architecture, the Real Alcazar in Seville or Alcazar of Cordoba are more impressive, but from Malaga or Cadiz, they are harder to reach. With transportation, lines and time to visit, each takes the entire port day. Visiting the Alcazaba of Malaga gives a taste, but leaves most of the day to see other things. You decide!