Saturday, July 11, 2015

3 Continent Adventure: Malaga, Spain 2015

 May 27, 2015

The busy port of Malaga has served as a gateway to the fertile farmlands along Spain’s Costa del Sol for over 3000 years. This is one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean and has been in operation since 600 BC. Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.

Click on this link to view photo album

Our driver Antonio started off by showing us parts of downtown Malaga. As we were passing  Atarazanas Market, he pointed out the stained glass windows in the market. We were in awe therefore he decided to let us have a 10 minute look at it. The main entrance is an imposing horseshoe archway. The market was once a shipyard, later it was used as a convent, a military hospital and an army barracks before becoming a market in 1879. It is a beautiful, lively, colourful market with a gorgeous stained glass window dominating the middle section. There are supposed to be over 200 stalls which provide an endless variety of produce such as swaying legs of ham, rolls of sausages, cheese, fish, olives, fruit and vegetables, etc. etc.

Our 10 minutes ran into 20 and after finally tearing ourselves away from this delightful market we headed  off to Granada, the capital of the Province of Granada, which is located in the eastern part of Andalucia. Granada lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a picturesque drive as we passed many olive groves dotting the hills with the Sierra Nevada as its backdrop. 

Sierra Nevadas in the background

Our goal was to visit the Alhambra, a UNESCO site. The Alhambra is a well preserved and oldest fortified Moorish fortress and palace complex. The “Generalife“, which means “garden of the architect” features a series of beautiful upper and lower gardens with fountains and running streams. In the “Generalife“ area, the Palacio de Generalife with its stunning enclosed oriental garden built around a long central pool with rows of water jets forming graceful water arches along the pool was the summer residence of the Nasrid Emirs

Generalife Gardens
Court of the Main Canal
Sultans/Emirs Palace

The Renaissance palace of Charles V with its imposing façade was built in a Renaissance style. This palace which started out as a fortress, was constructed in 889 and then largely ignored and rebuilt in the mid 11th century by the Moorish king Mohammed Ben Al-Ahmar.  

The Alcazaba, with its thick walls and towers was the main form of defence for the Alhambra against attack. This is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex. The Alcazaba was also the main military residential area where the soldiers responsible for defending the Sultan lived.

The medina arsenal industry quarter traditionally known as the Secano or Dryland (unirrigated land) are the remains of shops, kilns, tanneries and houses.

The Santa Maria Church was completed in the 17th century and stands on the site of the former Alhambra Great Mosque. Designed in the Latin cross style, the church has six chapels leading from the single nave.

Torre de la Vela or watchtower dominates both the Alhambra and the city of Granada,. The tower was built in the 13th century. Four flags are flown from the tower, the blue European flag, the green and white Andalucian flag, the red and yellow Spanish flag and the red and green Granada flag. A bell in the tower is rung every year on 2nd January in commemoration of the taking of Granada. Beside this is the Torre Quebrada (the “Broken” Tower) and the Torre del Homenaje (the Keep). The 45 m Comares Tower is the highest tower in Alhambra. These are only some of the towers in Alhambra .

Torre de la Vela

Torre Quebracia & Torre del Homenaje

Monastery of San Francisco was once a Moorish palace, then it was converted to a Franciscan Monastery. This was where Queen Isabel and King Fernando chose to be buried, it also served as a hospital during the war, it is now a Parador Hotel


We could not cover the entire Alhambra complex as it extends over 100,000 m2 and was well over a 2 hour walk around the complex. The views of Granada from this complex is simply stunning. It looks over the Albayzin, which is a residential district of Granada with a medieval Moorish past. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the famous Alhambra. 

View of the Albayzin from Alcazaba

Antonio then took us to downtown Granada. We stop at the Plaza de Isabel la Catolica situated where the Gran Vía de Colón and Calle Reyes Catolicos meet . This square is surrounded by beautiful  historical buildings.

Plaza de Isabel la Catolica


Calle Reyes Catolicos

We nipped down the Alcaiceria or great bazaar which is a quaint old street in the historic quarter, for a quick look at the Royal Chapel of Granada, the burial place for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela. The construction of the Royal Chapel of Granada was ordered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1504 as a place of burial for their bodies. Their bodies rested in the Convent of San Francisco in the Alhambra until the Royal Chapel was completed. 

Back in Malaga Antonio dropped us off at the Rambla Marques de Larios with its wide and narrow streets, Mediterranean architecture, glossy marble pavements, elegant shops, and alfresco dining. Lunch was at the Gorki Restaurant, an upmarket tapas bar recommended by Antonio and enjoyed the ever changing scenery. 

After lunch the alley ways took us to the stunning Malaga Cathedral (Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación ) built between the 16 & 18 centuries on the site of an ancient mosque.

Of course one does not leave Malaga without visiting the Picasso Museum. Picasso was born here in 1881 near the Plaza de la Merced. Many of his early works are on display here. 



On the way back to the pier, we passed by the Alcazaba La Malaga, the city’s iconic Moorish fortress, the University of Malaga, along the Playa Malagueta and back to the pier.

Castillo Gibralfaro

University of Malaga

Playa Malagueta

Malaga Pier


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