One of Andalusia's most striking Renaissance churches stands on Calle Molina Lario, in the centre of town: the Catedral de Málaga. Commonly known as La Manquita (the one-armed woman), the cathedral's construction was overseen by a succession of Spanish Catholic kings between 1528 and 1782. The construction of its southern tower and parts of its facade were never completed, mainly because of the many events that have shaped the political and historical landscape of Málaga. The cathedral's Baroque and Renaissance interior features a central nave with beautiful 17th century mahogany and cedar choir stalls, as well as sculptures by Pedro de Mena (1628-1688). The chapels also boast some stunning architectural and artistic features.
The Moorish fortress of Alcazaba was built on the former site of Roman fortifications during the ninth century under King Badis of Granada. Towering over the Mediterranean, it has preserved the fine details of its Moorish architecture, as well as its typically Andalusian gardens and ponds. The Alcazaba is home to a small archaeological museum which features an interesting collection of prehistoric artifacts found in the caves of Nerja, as well as Phoenician mosaics and Roman sculptures.
The Teatro Romano was discovered in 1951 at the foot of the Alcazaba, where it had remained buried underground for several centuries. The 16m-high theatre has a diameter of 31m and was built during the first century under the reign of Augustus. It features a 15m orchestra section, as well as three main stands and gateways.
Málaga honoured one of its native sons in 1983 with the inauguration of the Casa Museo Pablo Ruiz Picasso. The painter's native home, located in the bustling Plaza de la Merced, is listed as a national historic and artistic monument, and includes a museum dedicated to Picasso's artwork. The museum features both a permanent collection, which includes illustrated books, engravings and ceramics by the artist, as well as a series of seasonal temporary exhibits. Visitors will also discover over 3,500 works by such renowned artists as Miró, Bacon, Ernst, Tàpies and Chillida, to name but a few, as well as various local artists.
Located in the 16th-century Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista, the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes honours the artistic endeavours of times gone by. It boasts a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, furniture and silverware from the 15th to the 18th centuries, as well as a collection of 19th-century paintings by local artists. The Palacio is also home to the Museo Picasso, which was inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain in 2003. The works by Málaga's (and, arguably, the world's) most famous artist were donated by Christine Ruiz-Picasso, the widow of Pablo's son Paulo.
Visitors will enjoy exploring Málaga's recently refurbished historic city centre. Here, they'll discover the Pasaje de Chinitas, a lively little thoroughfare that's perfect for a stroll; the Calle Granada, home to the city's fine arts museum; and the Calle Larios, one of the old town's main gathering places. Slightly removed from Calle Larios, the neighbourhoods of El Perchel, El Egido and La Trinidad are also worth a visit.
The 16,564-hectare Parque Natural de la Sierra de Las Nievas provides city dwellers with a beautiful green space on the outskirts of Málaga. It boasts a beautiful Spanish pine forest which spreads over 2,000ha and, in its mountain area, juniper trees and Portuguese oaks. The park is also home to some impressive underground caves, including the 1,100m-deep Sima GESM and the Honda. The park's diverse fauna includes otters, ibex, fallow and white-tailed deer, and various birds of prey.
Avid sunbathers can head to the gold-sand beaches of the coastal towns that surround Málaga. Torreblanca, near Fuengirola, is perfect for swimming and enjoying water sports. In Nerja, Torrecilla Beach features a walkway where joggers and cyclists can take in the sun while they enjoy their favourite activities.
To get the most out of Málaga's vibrant cultural scene, visitors can head there during Semana Santa
(Holy Week; around Easter). This national celebration attracts hordes of merry revellers who come to take in the procession of immense pasos
(floats) bearing religious sculptures and icons. Night owls will also find much to love in Málaga: they can head to the Paseo de la Farola or the Paseo Máritimo Ciudad de Melilla, where all kinds of bars and restaurants await.
Where on earth
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia, charming and lively Málaga proudly lays claim to the title of "capital of the Costa del Sol." Here, visitors head to the top of Gibralfaro hill, where stands the castle of the same name, to marvel at the breathtaking view of Málaga and its coastline.