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Málaga Travel Guide

History of Malaga

The long history of Malaga has been enriched by various different civilisations that passed by and left their traces in our unique lands. Malaga, with the name ‘Malaka' (fish salting place), was founded by the Phoenicians about 800 BC., and was used as a commercial enclave, following the colonisation that had been initiated 1100 BC. by the foundation of Gadir (Cádiz). After 70 years of Greek domain, Malaga was dominated by the Carthaginians, but after the Punic Wars that finished in 202 B.C. with the Roman victory, Malaga fell under Roman domain, and was named Flavia Malacita, and further on converted into an important point of passage, as it was connected with other Roman centres on the Peninsula and harbours of the Mediterranean Sea. The Roman Theatre, at the bottom of the Arabian fortress 'Alcazaba', is from this epoch, and despite its small dimensions, is one of the most ancient in the entire Hispania.

History of Malaga

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Malaga was affected by large migrations and settlements of German tribes, in particular the Silinge vandals who introduced the Arian Credo from the Orient. At the beginning of the 8th Century, the decay of the Gothic monarchy began, and from the coast of North Africa, the Arabs invaded the Iberian Peninsula.

Malaga fell under their domain in 743. Malaga was converted into a flourishing town, surrounded by a wall with five huge gates. Numerous suburbs composed the town with a route across from east to west connecting the harbour and the Alcazaba with the interior district of the wall. The suburbs were occupied by Genoese merchants and Jews who settled down independently from the rest of the town. Abderramán III had the gate ‘La Puerta de Atarazanas' constructed in 13th Century (which is the access to the Central Market nowadays). Though the first attempts of conquest took place in the 14th Century, it was not until near the end of 15th Century when the Catholic Kings achieved it.

Malaga was conquered on the 19th August 1487 (the last town to be conquered was Granada in 1492). Along with the conquest, religious communities were fundamental in urban growth, as they produced the integration of the surrounding suburbs. A big square was created for the first time, the main square, (today Constitution Square),and the convents of Victoria and Trinidad (Trinity) were founded. The 16th and 17th Centuries were characterized by the crisis that was provoked by the expulsion of the Moors who had converted to Christianity on one hand, and on the other by bad harvests, flooding caused by the overflowing of the river Guadalmedina, and by epidemics.

In the 17th Century, the harbour was constructed and later on it was extended. Although the works of the Cathedral started in 1528, they were not finished until the 18th Century, when Baroque was in an advanced state. In the same epoch, another extension of the harbour was carried out, and thus, the recuperation of the preceding centuries was reactivated.

Malaga NowIn the 19th Century, Malaga began an important development of urban planning where a clear difference between the industrial area and a residential area with huge villas and hotels, was to be noticed. The main streets 'Calle Marqués de Larios' and 'Alameda' were opened. The outstanding negative events of the 19th Century were: the economic crisis and politics impacted by the tyranny of King Fernando VII (who authorized the illegal shooting of Torrijos and his men.) An obelisk was erected to honour the General and his men in the square 'Plaza de la Merced', which today is the centre for cultural activities and popular fiestas. The first decades of the 20th Century were not very prosperous but from the Sixties onwards, the tourist boom in Spain has transformed Malaga. Millions of people have chosen Malaga as the town for their holidays, and thousands as their ideal place to reside. Malaga has become the fifth town of Spain in importance and is one of the modern European capitals, enriched by international diversity and a mixture of different cultures. Since 1992 Malaga has enjoyed a wide infrastructure as to its road system and its magnificent national motorway connections, and its airport is one of the most important in Europe.