Historical Attractions in Malaga That Must Be Visited

Malaga skyline

Malaga has a deep and interesting history. Founded in the eighth century BC, Malaga is replete with fascinating historical attractions and ancient landmarks that demand to be visited. From cathedrals to castles, there is a little something here for everyone, making your holiday to Malaga all that more appealing. To help you discover historical attractions in Malaga, we’ve selected some of the highlights.

To help further set the scene, Victor Garrido, the executive director of We Love Malaga – the number one walk and food tour company in Malaga – has commented on the area’s historical roots: “It’s difficult to find a city in the world where so many civilizations have passed. The city, founded by the Phoenicians 2800 years ago, has been settled by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, Moors and Christians.”

Alcazaba Fortress

Alcazaba Fortress


Image credit: Guide to Malaga

Joanna Styles of Guide to Malaga, the main source of information about Malaga in English, knows a thing or two about the city and includes Alcazaba Fortress (ninth century) among her must visit historical attractions in Malaga. Describing what visitors can expect at the site, Guide to Malaga told us “The Moorish Alcazaba was built as a defensive fortress but also includes a small palace. Lovely gardens and courtyards with stunning views of the city centre and port from the walls and the palaces.”

Alcazaba Fortress also comes highly recommended by Molly of Piccavey – a Spanish food, culture and travel blog. Molly spoke to us about the fortress, saying that people should make sure to visit the site “to see how the city of Malaga has changed over the ages,” and “enjoy views from the fortress across the port, bull ring and city.”

Another interesting fact, courtesy of We Love Malaga, is that “the Moorish fortress was built by recycling stones from the Roman Theatre and other civil buildings from Roman & Byzantine times.”

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre

Image credit: Guide to Malaga

Near Alcazaba is another fascinating historic site. The Roman Theatre, now in ruins, dates back from the time of Roman Emperor Augustus and today theatrical performances are occasionally held here.

Molly from Piccavey recommends visiting the theatre while seeing Alcazaba, saying that “Although the Amphitheatre in the centre of Malaga city has been there since the 1st century B.C, it wasn’t discovered until 1950.”

Joanna of Guide to Malaga also thinks highly of this ancient location, telling us “this short and free visit round the amphitheatre is a nice place to sit in the sun during winter. The visitors’ centre is quite good too. Don’t miss the walkway that goes up to the first circle of walls around the Alcazaba. You access it via the passageway next to the Roman Theatre visitors’ centre.”

Gibralfaro Castle

Andalousie, Malaga - Chateau de Gibralfaro

Gibralfaro Castle should also be high up on your Malaga holiday agenda. Perched on Mount Gibralfaro, this medieval castle was built in the 10th century on top of a Phoenician lighthouse and is famous for being sieged by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.

Guide to Malaga sings the site’s praises, telling us: “Gibralfaro Castle doesn’t have a lot to look at inside, but you can walk around the walls on the battlements with great views of the city, inland and the coast. Open daily 9am to 6pm, €3.55 to visit both. It’s quite a steep walk to the Gibralfaro so if your legs can’t face it, get the No 35 bus from the Alameda Principal to the top and walk down afterwards.”

The Atarazanas market

The Atarazanas market

Molly from Piccavey chose The Atarazanas market as another of her top historical attractions in Malaga to visit, telling us that it is a wonderful location to “discover local history”.

“The Atarazanas market in Malaga was built in 1876. This space was used as a naval warehouse in Nasrid times which is why it has the name Atarazana from the nets used in the shipyard. On one side of the market you can notice the horseshoe archway with its Moorish design. Find out more about the market and local food with Spain Food Sherpas – locals who share the best places to eat in Malaga and also offer cooking classes for those wanting a hands on approach.”

Málaga Cathedral

Malaga Cathedral

Located in Old Town, Malaga Cathedral is a rather dominant building and truly quite the sight to see. Built in the 16th century, this stunning structure is certainly striking and actually stands on the site of an earlier mosque. There is plenty to see here, including the grand architecture on display, a painting by Alonso Cano of the ‘Virgin of the Saints’, and kneeling figures of the Catholic Monarchs by Pedro de Mena.

Malaga Cathedral is actually partly unfinished, as We Love Malaga explain: “The Bishop of Malaga donated 400,000 reales for the American Revolution in order to help the American & Spanish troops against the English, one of the reasons why the South bell tower isn’t finished.”

Regarding Malaga Cathedral, Joanna of Guide to Malaga says: “The Cathedral is interesting inside although I personally think visiting the rooftop is better. You take a guided tour around the perimeter of the roof and see the tower close-up and of course, the views of the city.”

Other recommendations by Guide to Malaga

Guide to Malaga

Image credit: Guide to Malaga

Joanna of Guide to Malaga is full of fantastic tips for visiting historical attractions in Malaga, and she also suggests “a walk to take in a few historic monuments,” advising that visitors “go along the Paseo del Parque from the Alcazaba and see the University Headquarters (art deco building), Bank of Spain (Neoclassical) and City Hall and gardens. Then cross over at the end to the Pompidou Centre and walk back to the city under the portside Pergola.”

Joanna also expressed her opinion on what makes Malaga such a wonderful holiday destination:

“People I know who have visited for the first time say it’s a very relaxed and welcoming city. They highlight its big pedestrian areas so you can stroll car-free for a long way and that it’s flat. The attractions are also in a small area so there’s no need to cover large distances to see them.

“It’s very good value – two people can eat out at a good restaurant for €50 and if you’re on a budget you can get a good 3-course lunch for less than €10 a person. It’s much, much cheaper than Marbella or Nerja for example. There’s always something going on – lots of culture (new art exhibitions, live music, concerts, festivals, Christmas lights, excellent shopping, and of course, the year-round sunshine!”

A unique and historic city

malagueta sculpture

Image credit: Guide to Malaga

One of Malaga’s most attractive qualities is its untouched nature and this is what Victor of We Love Malaga praises most about the destination:

“What makes Malaga so great to visit is its uniqueness. It’s a city that has not been spoiled yet by tourism. I know it sounds weird, because the word Malaga sounds like tourism right away, but that reputation is only for Costa del Sol and of course Malaga’s airport. Malaga is much more than an airport, it’s an ancient city that offers a huge selection of museums, historical attractions and a great selection of restaurants. Malaga is the cultural hub of Southern Europe.”

Finding historical attractions in Malaga

As you can see, there is plenty to discover while on holiday in this region of Spain. By simply making use of a car rental service in Malaga and following this guide, there is a world of history ready to be explored. All that’s left is to decide how many historical attractions in Malaga you can fit in!


Image Credit: Gilles Messian  Bikeventures-manu  Luis


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