Gate to Andalusia
There is so much to see and discover in Malaga that six hours are barely enough to even scratch the surface of the most ancient ports of the Mediterranean founded by the Phoenicians over 2,000 years ago. Nevertheless, we got a good feel of this vibrant capital of the Costa del Sol as we wandered through the narrow streets and shaded lanes of the historic old town. Sipping the most delicious Mokalatte (that’s how they spelled it on the menu) in a charming street café facing the massive cathedral and the former Palacio Episcopal (now a museum), we watched tourist groups hurrying by making me glad we were not one of them chasing behind a guide with a sign board.
Continuing our walking tour after coffee, we headed up a steep cobblestone path into the Alcazaba castle. Within massive walls, we stepped back in time as we walked through arched doorways, climbed ancient staircases and ambled through flower gardens around bubbling fountains. The view from of this huge stronghold, the last defense against the Christian kings, was spectacular. Up the hill from this largest Arabic monument of the city sat the less impressive Gibralfaro fortress dating back to the Phoenician period. The Malagueta arena below looked similar to the Roman Coliseum and even today it is still a popular place to watch the matadors and the bulls stir up the blood in their deadly fight. Coming down the hill, we ventured along the Roman Amphitheatre sitting in almost perfect shape at the base of the steep fortress hill before we turned around and made our way back to the palm lined corniche. As we rode the shuttle bus back to the ship, I gazed over the city’s skyline, a unique blend of Moorish minarets, Christian cathedrals and contemporary architecture. Besides its rich history of Arab, Carthaginian and Visigoth rule over the centuries, this gate to Andalusia is a living museum of historic and artistic treasures of ancient civilizations and also home of the captivating flamenco which gives this popular port city its enchanting flair.