Malaga is the gateway to the Costa del Sol. But the city offers more than just tourist resorts and sun-soaked beaches, it is also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
The young Picasso lived in Malaga for the first ten years of his life, from 1881 – 1891. It was here that he uttered his first words – “piz, piz!” (Pencil, Pencil!) according to his mother – and where he began his training as an artist.
It was Picasso, himself, who requested that a museum for his work should be built in Malaga, but it was his daughter-in-law and grandson who oversaw the establishment of the Museo Picasso Malaga. Today, there are 233 of Picasso’s works in the collection plus 43 on loan. There’s a lot more in the city to see than just this museum, so be sure to book your car rental in Malaga online with easyCar before you leave.
The museum has become an emblem of the man who left such a defining mark on European art. Not only does the collection give a sense of his immeasurable talent but it also communicates the politics within his work – his focus on the injustices experienced by social minorities. A series of temporary exhibitions provides a more focused look at his art.
Picasso’s legacy is at the forefront of Malaga’s cultural revolution. Desperate to shake of its “tacky” image, the city is channelling its money and efforts into its art scene.
Over the past decade, new galleries have opened their doors – diversifying the city’s Picasso theme. CAC Malaga features international works by household names such as Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois and Olafur Eliasson. It also gives space to emerging Spanish artists. The Carmen Thyssen Museum takes art-lovers back in time, featuring mostly 19th-century Andalusian painting.
La Termica, which has only been open for two years, has quickly evolved into a progressive cultural centre with a formidable programme of exhibitions, lectures and performances. Microteatro Málaga continues this contemporary, artsy vibe. The cultural space combines cocktails with alternative, cutting edge performances and has become the go-to spot for the city’s young artists. Known for its local theatre talent, it also hosts art exhibitions, fashion shows and literature workshops.
To indulge in the spectacle of Andalusian culture, head to Centro de Arte Flamenco Kelipe which hosts authentic Flamenco evenings. Here, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, you can eat dinner while watching the show. The dancers are a whirlwind of passion set to a soundtrack of Spanish guitar and the venue’s intimacy means the audience can even feel the vibrations coming from the stage.
The Clarence Jazz Club is another of Malaga’s great musical venues. Situated by the cathedral and surrounded by tapas restaurants, the club has an eclectic programme of Spanish and international jazz and blues running from Wednesday to Saturday.
Aside from its art and its music, Malaga also has a rich history. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its position, situated on Europe’s border with Africa, means the city has changed hands throughout the centuries and the tussle over who Malaga belongs to – Catholics, Muslims or Romans – is a battle which is still evident in the city’s architecture.
Visitors can also explore La Manquita, the city’s cathedral, founded on the site of a mosque in the 15th century. Locals affectionately call it the “one armed women” because the southern tower was never completed.
Looking down on the city are three of Malaga’s most famous landmarks – the Gibralfaro Castle, the Alcazaba and the Roman Theatre. The Alcazaba is a fortress, typical of Islamic Spain. Visitors flock to The Torre del Homenaje, the main keep and one of the Alcazaba’s 110 towers. The Gibralfaro Castle was built as a lookout post to defend the city and became so iconic to the Catholics who lived here, they put the building on their coat of arms.
Visit the complex at sunset to witness the city below drenched in a golden haze. To see the full array of gardens, fountains and courtyards of the Alcazaba, tread the path that runs along the wall from the castle to the gardens. If visitors get their timing right, they can finish their day by catching a free open air performance at the Roman theatre.
There’s a lot to do in the city so be sure rent a car in Malaga with easyCar.