Málaga Province – Andalusia
Málaga province has an exceptional climate with mild temperaturas and some 300 days of sunshine per year enable the visitor to enjoy the beach all year round. Together with an incredible variety of inland areas with all the charms of the traditional white villages and towns with an impressive historic heritage such as Ronda, Antequera, and the city of Malaga itself, birthplace of the world-famous Pablo Ruiz Picasso, as well as a rich and varied gastronomy, and unique traditional fiestas, this has made Malaga the prime tourist destination in the region of Andalusia.
Another facet of this is the excellent communication network which connects it with the rest of the Peninsula, and cities throughout Europe and the rest of the world. This has recently been augmented with the newly established High Speed railway link.
Málaga Province Art and Culture
The province of Málaga has a number of important pre-historic sites including the dolmens to be found in Menga, Viera and El Romeral, in Antequera and the cave paitings of La Pileta, Doña Trinidad and Nerja. The Phoenicians, who founded the city of Malaka in the 8th century BC, have left remnants of their time here in the Toscanos site and in the necropolis of Trayamar, whereas the Roman legacy can be seen in the theatres of Acinipo (Ronda) and Malaga, as well as in the Roman Villa of Río Verde, in Marbella, amongst other sites. The Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, in Malaga, the Arab Baths of Ronda, and the Sohail Castle in Fuengirola, are just some examples of the rich heritage left by the Moors.
The Christian re-conquest brought with it new artistic styles such as the late gothic, the renaissance, and the mannerist, which are much in evidence in religious buildings such as the Cathedral in Malaga or the Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, in Antequera. The baroque stly was particularly influential as can be seen notably in Ronda and Antequera. The 18th century was a period of new advances in building, examples of which include the Plaza Ochavada in Archidona, and the Puente Nuevo over the river Tajo, in Ronda.
The development of the tourist industry has given many of Malaga´s traditional crafts a new lease of life. Thus, the traditional art of pottery making is still known for the “barros malagueños” which are models of typical figures and scenes, but these are now combined with more unusual creative forms of ceramics. Another craft which continues to thrive in the province is that of artistic ironwork and the forges of Arroyo de la Miel, Marbella, Humilladero, Cártama, Estepona and Fuengirola continue to turn out authentic masterpieces. Materials such as cotton, wool, linen, and jute are still used in Marbella and Estepona for the production of hand made carpets.
Also well known are the embroidered table linen, handkerchiefs, and the famous Macharaviaya sheets whilst Antequera continues to be known as a centre for traditional costumes and horse riding wear. Other crafts which are still alive and well include that of wooden furniture making, particularly the popular Mueble Rondeño (Ronda style furniture) which has developed its own unique style.
Málaga Province Festivals and Traditions
The portrayal of Christ´s passion in Riogordo, the “throne races” of the nights of Easter Thursday and Good Friday in Antequera, and the solemn processions in Malaga itself, which have been declared a fiesta of International Tourist Interest, are just some examples of the significance of the Easter celebrations for the province as a whole. Other celebrations with their own individual flavor include the May Crosses, the Night of San Juan, Corpus Christi (a fiesta which is celebrated twice in Arriate thanks to a Papa Bull), and the fiestas of the Moors and Christians which take place in Benalauría, Benadalid, and Alfarnate.
Bullfighting also plays a significant role in Malaga´s festive calendar, with important events such as the Corrida Goyesca in Ronda or the bullfights held in the mythical La Malagueta ring in the capital. Flamenco plays its part, particularly in the verdiales, a unique form of singing and dancing with deeply rooted peasant origins. The Malaga Festival of Spanish Cinema and the Music and Dance Festival which takes place in the Caves of Nerja are just two more examples of the important role that the arts play throughout the province.
Málaga Province Gastronomy
Malaga´s cuisine boasts a wide variety of simple, healthy dishes prepared with natural ingredients, some of which are protected by a denomination of origin: olive oil with the Antequera Denomination of Origin; cherimoyas with the Chirimoya de la Costa Tropical Granada-Málaga Denomination of Origin; raisins with the Pasas de Málaga Denomination of Origin; and wines with the Malaga and Sierras de Malaga Denominations of origin.
The province also produces a wide variety of meats, vegetables and, above all, fish. Gazpacho, ajoblanco (Malaga´s version of gazpacho garnished with almonds and muscatel grapes), fried fish, the famous espetos (sardines on a reed skewer which are grilled on the beach) or the porra antequerana, are just a few examples of the specialities for which Malaga´s cuisine is particularly renowned. Also popular are a wide variety of traditional confectionery items.
Examples include the evocative bienmesabe from Antequera, the borrachuelos flavoured with Málaga wine, oil flat cakes, pestiños, alfajores, wine-flavoured roscos, and the delicious cakes and pastries made in the convents.
Málaga Province Nature and Active Tourism
Due to its rugged topography, which results in a wide diversity of landscapes and striking climatic contrasts, Malaga is often likened to a small continent. The province occupies an area of approximately 7.200 square kilometers and boasts a broad network of protected areas. To the west, bordering the province of Cadiz, are the nature parks of Sierra de Grazalema, Sierra de las Nieves (both of which have been designated Biosphere Reserves), and Los Alcornocales. Near to the city of Malaga there is the Montes de Málaga Nature Park and to the east are the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama nature park.
In addition to this array of natural areas, which are home to a great diversity of wildlife, Malaga has other more unusual landscapes such as the evocative limestone formations of El Torcal in Antequera, the narrow pass of Los Gaitanes, the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs, and the Reales de Sierra Bermeja, amongst others. The nature reserves of the lagoons of Fuente de Piedra, Archidona, Campillos and La Ratosa provide a habitat to interesting species of waterfowl and wading birds, particularly the pink flamingo, which nest in the salt waters of the Fuente de Piedra.
For those who enjoy outdoors pursuits in natural surroundings the province offers a huge variety of possibilities including horse riding, walking, rowing, abseiling, paragliding (particularly in the Abdalajís Valley), climbing (the El Chorro gorge is a notable mecca for climbers), balloon trips, potholing, excursions in 4WD vehicles.
The coast on the other hand offers a wide range of different sports such as water skiing, hang gliding, or diving in the magnificent locations off the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs. Malaga is also a paradise for golf lovers. Indeed, with its more than 40 courses of unbeatable quality, the Costa del Sol has the largest concentration of facilities in the whole of Europe, whilst the 11 marinas which are scattered along its 160 kilometres of coastline, notably the internationally renowned Puerto Banús, meet all the requirements of sailors and lovers of water sports.
Málaga province range of leisure facilities is completed with numerous theme and recreational parks which cater for all kinds of tastes and include funfairs, water parks, and centres recreating specific natural habitats, amongst others.
Málaga Province Routes
The Guadalhorce Valley Route
The immense orchard of the valley of the Guadalhorce, very near to Malaga itself, comprises the municipalities of Alhaurín de la Torre, Alhaurín el Grande, Almogía, Álora, Cártama, Coín, Pizarra, and Valle de Abdalajís. As well as the charming popular architecture of the white villages, the area boasts a wealth of natural beauty, best personified by the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. The Moorish inheritance is clearly visible in the water mills and irrigation channels which are dotted everywhere, as well as in the Castle of Álora, with its Visigoth origins. The numerous golf courses are another of the area´s many attractions.
The Guadalteba Route
Bordered by the campiña of Sevilla, the Guadalhorce Valley, the Serranía de Ronda, the Sierra de Cádiz and the Antequera district, this area forms a natural corridor, irrigated by the river Guadalteba, which gives it its name. Almargen, Ardales, Campillos, Cañete la Real, Carratraca, Cuevas del Becerro, Sierra de Yeguas and Teba are its municipalities, and it contains a wealth of heritage from ancient cultures including the cave paintings of Ardales and the prehistoric site of Bobastro. Also the Guadalteba and Guadalhorce reservoirs and the Campillos lakes offer many opportunities for leisure.
The Costa del Sol Route
The western part of the Costa del Sol stretches from Malaga itself to the province of Cadiz taking in the municipalities of Benahavís, Benalmádena, Casares, Estepona, Fuengirola, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas, and Torremolinos. It is especially renowned as a place for sun and sand holidays, and offers an excellent network of services and tourist attractions (marinas, golf courses, casinos). The historical legacy and natural surroundings add to the attraction of an area which has successfully managed to combine the traditions of Andalusia with the demands of the modern world.
The Axarquía Route
La Axarquía is unusual in offering spectacular constrasts of landscapes in a very condensed area: high mountainous areas (The Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama Nature Park) are to be found in close proximity to the coast with its sandy beaches, steep cliffs, and hidden coves (the Acantilados Maro-Cerro Gordo nature area). Apart from this, there is the important artistic heritage of sites such as the Cueva de Nerja, the Phoenician remains of Trayamar in Torrox, the Morisco nucleus of Frigiliana, or the impressive monuments of Vélez-Málaga. There are a number of different routes which allow the visitor to explore the 31 municipalities of the area.
Sierra de las Nieves Route
This area lies within the Sierra de las Nieves nature park, declared a Biosphere Reserve, and its main attraction are given by nature. These include the areas of Spanish firs, the Tajo de la Caina gorge, the sides of which are more than 100 metres high, the Gesm depression, which at 1.100 metres is the third deepest in the world, and the Torrecilla peak (1.919 m), the highest in the province. Its nine municipalities are a perfect example of the way that popular architecture can live in harmony with nature.
Serranía de Ronda Route
The Serranía of Ronda represents a mosaic of all the different peoples who have settled at one time or another in this land. There is the Roman theatre of Acinipo and the Arab Baths of Ronda, castles and fortresses like that of Gaucín, as well as numerous formidable baroque constructions. Furthermore, the natural surroundings are truly unique: the Los Alcornocales, Sierra de las Nieves, and Grazalema nature parks, as well as the Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja spot.
The Nororma Route
The north eastern part of the province offers a great variety of landscapes due to its position between the Subbética and Penibética mountain ranges and the fact that it contains the lush upper reaches of the river Guadalhorce and the river Genal. Historically the area has benefited from being situated right at the mid point of Andalusia and this can be appreciated in the rich artistic heritage of towns such as Archidona.
The Antequera area Route
The saltwater lake of Fuente de Piedra, home to the pink flamingo, and the karst limestone formations of el Torcal de Antequera, are just two of the outstanding natural attractions of this area situated to the north of the province. History has left its mark, especially in Antequera itself, with its rich architectural heritage, including the Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor and other magnificent renaissance and baroque buildings. There are also signs of earlier civilizations in the dolmens of Menga, Viera, and Romeral and the Roman baths of Alameda.