This was our second trip to Andalusia but only our first stay in Malaga. When we first visited Andalusia 2 years ago, my partner and I bypassed Malaga completely and drove straight to Granada. This time, however, we decided to remedy that situation and to spend a little time in the city. After arriving in Malaga late evening, we picked up our car, checked into the hotel and went to sleep. The next day our plan was to drive to Granada but since we had plenty of time we decided to visit the Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción which are located just outside of the city. Visiting the Botanical Gardens is not quite the same as visiting Malaga I hear you say, but on the return from our 10 day trip through Andalusia, which took us to Granada, Seville, Cadiz and Ronda, we stayed in Malaga for two more days in order to take in the other sites of this city.
The Botanical Gardens
The Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción will keep you busy for a little while as the whole garden covers about 55 hectares. At its heart lie the Historical Gardens (roughly 3.5 hectares) with more than 3000 different species, several waterfalls, fountains, lakes and historical buildings. This is the oldest (and in my opinion nicest) part of La Concepción and was created about 150 years ago by the Loring family. You can wander around leafy avenues, admire some gorgeous flowers and idle some time away in in a small coffee shop. All in all the gardens are well worth a visit
Construction of the Cathedral of Malaga began in 1528 century under the supervision of the renowned architect Diego de Siloé. However, construction work didn’t get off to a good start and the project was quickly abandoned. It was not taken up again until 1550, when the Renaissance and Baroque styles took over, and continued right trough to 1782 . The facade, unlike the renaissance interior, is in the Baroque style. Like most cathedrals in the cities in Andalusia, Malaga Cathedral was built on the site of the main mosque. Little remains today of this Moorish place of worship, reputedly one of the finest in Al-Andalus whose orange tree patio once rivalled those in Cordoba and Seville, both still standing today.
The north tower, with its 84 metres, is the second highest cathedral tower in Spain, after the Gerald of Seville. To today, the south tower remains unfinished, earning the cathedral its nickname “La Marquita”, i.e. the “One Armed Lady”. There is some dispute about why Malaga Cathedral façade has just the one tower. The most reliable sources point to the money for the second tower being used on financing the American war of Independence, while other sources claim it was spent on the road from Malaga to Antequera.
After having visited the cathedral we sauntered over to the Roman amphitheatre which was built in the first century BC under Emperor Augustus and is situated at the foot of Malaga’s Alcazaba. The first incarnation of the Alcazaba was build on the ruins of a Roman fortification during the reign of Abd-al-Rahman I, the first Emir of Cordoba, in around 756-780AD. During this period the Alcazaba’s main purpose was to defend against pirate incursions, do to its commanding position with wide views over the sea. The fortress was rebuilt by the Sultan of Granada, Badis Al-Ziri, from 1057-1063AD, while the fortified double walls that connect the Alcazaba to the neighbouring Castillo de Gibralfaro, over the Coracha ridge, were built by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf I in the 14th century. Most of the inner palace was also refurbished during this period. After the Siege of Malaga in 1487, one of the longest sieges of the Reconquista, Ferdinand and Isabella captured Malaga and the Alcazaba started to fall into disrepair.
After visiting the Alcazaba you can also wander up the Mount Gibralfaro to have a look at the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Gibralfaro has been the site of fortifications since the Phoenician foundation of Málaga city, circa 770 BC. The location was fortified by Calif Abd-al-Rahman III in 929CE. At the beginning of the 14th century, Yusuf I of the Kingdom of Granada expanded the fortifications within the Phoenician lighthouse enclosure and erected a double wall to the Alcazaba. The name is said to be derived from Arabic, Jbel (rock or mount), and Greek the word for light, Jbel-Faro, meaning “Rock of Light”.
The Alcazaba opens at 9.00am in the morning and a combined ticket of the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro will set you back 5.50 Euros.
Caminito del Rey
El Caminito del Rey, also known as the King’s Walk or Pathway, is an 8-kilometer walking trail which is clinging to the towering walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the Malaga province of Spain. Originally, the walkway was connect the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls, in order to facilitate the transport of materials and the inspection and maintenance of the water channels, traces of which can still be seen today. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905. Over the years the path fell into disrepair, so much so, that several hikers lost their life trying to hike the Caminito del Rey. This led to the closure of the path in 2000.
However, after 4 years of restoration the Caminito del Rey was opened again making it a very thrilling hike as, in some places the path hovers more than a 100m above the river and the views are absolutely stunning. Along the way, you can expect to see some spectacular gorges with vultures flying overhead, interesting rock shapes created by millennia of erosion, and of course the remnants of the old paths and tunnels. The walk is not overly long or strenuous and can easily be done by anybody who is reasonably fit, unless you are not yet 8 years old (or a pet). Assuming that you are taking a lot of photos (like I did) it will probably take you about 2 hours or so to walk the length of the path.
The Caminito del Rey is located roughly between Ronda and Malaga and can be easily reached by car from both towns. Alternatively, you can take the train or the bus from Malaga to get there. Tickets can be bought on the official website. There are two things to note. Firstly, the entry is timed so you should arrive a little bit before the time indicated on your ticket. Secondly, the actual entrance to the Caminito del Rey is located almost 3km fro the car park (or the bus stop) and that you have to walk these 3km before the time indicated on your ticket. Unguided tickets cost 10 euros and you should try and book these well in advance (especially during the high season) as they are often sold out 1 or 2 months in advance.