Friday, January 8, 2016

Daria's Travel Guide: Malaga, Spain

We only spent one day in Malaga, it was the cheapest city in Andalusia to fly into, but it was a lovely place to begin out adventure in Spain. We spent the morning and afternoon wandering the windy streets and finding bits of history to discover. 

After walking into its orange grove, we decided to take a tour of the Malaga Cathedral. 

The Malaga Cathedral was built over the course of over two centuries. It was begun in 1528 after the Cristian Kings conquered Malaga and completed in 1782. Christians kings took over Malaga from the Islamic Kalifs in the mid 1400's (who had, in turn, took over from the Byzantine kings in the 700's, who took over after the decline of the Roman Empire). It is said that the cathedral is built either on or near the foundation of a former mosque (similarly to many other Andalusian cathedrals).

Due to the multiple influences and the length of construction, the cathedral was begun in the Renaissance style and completed in the 18th century in the Baroque style. If you look up on the facade, you can also see Moorish influences. 

Like other cathedrals of the time period, the original plans called for two towers, but only one was ever constructed due to lack of funds. it is rumored that the funds were donated to the American Independence. The cathedral still stands with only one tower, and it has been nicknamed affectionately by the locals as La Manquita, the one armed one.

In the interior, you can see the melding of Renaissance, Baroque, and Moorish styles. I was particularly impressed by the compound piers and the series of decorated domes above the aisles. Within the choir, are two incredible organs which were created during the 18th century. They are considered rare and beautiful and are prized by the city. They have more than 4000 pipes together and are still frequently used. Unfortunately, we were not there during a service and did not have the opportunity to listen to the 300 year old organs. 

Hours and Info:
Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Closed Sunday
5 €  entry fee

The Alcazaba was our first treat of truly Moorish architecture! It, along with the cathedral, are Malaga's two most significant landmarks. There are actually two Moorish fortresses in the city (the other being the Castillo de Gibralfaro) but we only had time for the one. 
The building is definitely more fortress-like than the Alhambra, but if you are not able to make into the Alhambra (which is quite a challenge without planning a month in advance), this is definitely not a place to miss. There is not as much carving and beautiful multi-lobed arches as the Alhambra, but the structure of the building gives you the idea of Moorish castle architecture, and the views are breathtaking.
The relative simplicity of the castle may be accounted for by the time of construction. It is an earlier building, constructed between 756-780 by the first Emir of Cordoba Abd-al-Rahman I on the ruins of a Roman fortification. As the first ruler of a newly conquered land, more emphasis would go on creating fortifications than luscious decoration. Its original purpose was defense against pirates. It was rebuilt between 1057 and 1063 by the Sultan Badis Al-Ziri. The more decorative features were additions by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf I much later in the 1300's.

Hours and Info:
Open daily 
Summer: 9am-8pm Winter 9am-6pm
Closed Jan 1, Feb 28, Dec 25
2.20€  entry fee (.60 for students!)

What to eat when you're there!

We ate at El Meson de Cervantes, a wonderful little tapas bar and restaurant that I found online before going. It was a narrow space and we sat at a little high-top table that overlooked the bar. The walls were elegantly decorated, and the wines well arranged on bookshelves. Upon further inspection, you notice dozens of glass containers, filled with thousands of wine corks from the happy diners that have come here for tapas or a drink.

It was our first night in Spain, so we decided to try a bunch of different tapas. I was really excited about a blood sausage dish, served on wedges of sweet potato and topped with quail egg (top right). It was a beautiful dish, and the blood sausage was cooked very nicely. I would have never expected the combination! I think my plan for the bulk of the trip was try what looks the oddest to me! We also had stuffed peppers with ricotta cheese and some other delicious things I forgot about (top left). Our second wave of dishes included a mushroom risotto (bottom left) and a wonderful boar stew (bottom right). 
We tried a dulce de leche for dessert, and then Nico had to suffer through some drawing lessons. Luckily, I have found a lovely gentleman who placates me in my love for cake and doodling. 

El Meson de Cervantes
Wednesday-Monday 7pm-12am
Calle Alamos II  |  Cale Cacer
+34 952 21 62 74

Other Restaurants you could try:                                                                                      Where we stayed: Hotel Ibis Malaga

La Recova   |       Pje Ntra Sra, de los Dolores de San Juan 5    |      +34 952 21 67 94      |     M-F 9:30am-4pm
great for breakfast and inexpensive (go early, they ran out of bread before we arrived at 11ish)
Bertani Cafe   |     Calle San Juan 40    |    +34 951 00 38 30    |    9am-8:30pm      (great coffee!)
El Tapeo de Cervantes    |     Calle de Cacer 8    |    +34 952 60 94 58   |   1-3:30pm, 7:30-11:30pm    (tiny place, great tapas)

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