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When visiting Torremolinos in June we decided to have a visit to nearby Malaga for a bit of culture after spending a few days just lying on the beach. Top of my list of things to visit was the Alcazaba the 11th century fort built by the Moors when they had invaded Malaga.
We decided to drive to Malaga as it is only about a fifteen minute drive to the centre from Torremolinos and upon approaching Malaga we could see the Alcazaba from quite a distance away because of its position on top of a hill overlooking the City. To say that the Alcazaba is impressive from this spectacular jvantage point would be an understatement as it is huge and completely dominates the skyline of the old part of the city.
We parked in an underground car park next to the hill where the Alcazaba is located and went looking for the entrance. We walked for about 10 minutes looking for it when we accidently stumbled across it. There are actually two entrances to the Alcazaba with one being in the main tourist area of the city next to the Roman Forum and one located round the back of the hill which seemed to be unknown as we were the only people at that entrance. The benefit of the entrance we were at is that there are elevators here that take you right to the top of the hill and the entrance of the Alcazaba so we didn't have to climb the many steps up the hill to reach it.
Entry to the Alcazaba was only 7 Euros which was for a combined ticket also including entry to the Gibralfaro Castle next door to the Alcazaba on the hill. For the Alcazaba on its own the entry price is only 4 Euros. I thought this was fantastic value and definitely one of the best value tourist attractions I have ever visited especially when you consider that there is so much to see and a lot of cities change triple this to look round some old rocks.
The Alcazaba is actually several different buildings which include fortifications, a palace and some stunning gardens. Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore them as there is so much to see and do. The outer walls of the Alcazaba can be walked along and give the most amazing view of the whole of Malaga. It really is a breath taking view and one of the best I have ever experienced. Because of the positioning of the Alcazaba it gives a 360 degree panorama over Malaga, the surrounding mountains and out over the sea.
Inside the fortifications there are several small but beautiful gardens and the indoor/outdoor style of the architecture is just so different from what we are used to seeing in Europe and it is quite beautiful. Even though the Alcazaba is large because of its sprawling nature there are loads of places where you can sit in relative solitude and enjoy the gardens or the view. They also make a great shaded rest area when it's hot and sunny which being Malaga it usually is. Surprisingly for Spain the gardens are lush and green and green and they are extremely well-tended and manicured.
The palace structure is at the top of the Alcazaba and here you could go in and explore the different rooms. Although the rooms weren't furnished you could still get an idea of how the people who inhabited the palace actually lived. The detailing around the doors and the ceilings were especially well preserved. In fact the whole Alcazaba was in much better shape than I had imagined it to be and there were no crumbling walls or areas cordoned off due to instability. The day we visited the Alcazaba you could explore the majority of the buildings but there were a few towers and doors that were locked with no explanation as to why.
Most of the rooms of the palace complex opened on to central court yards which had water features or their own private gardens.
The palace was also where there is a small but interesting archaeological museum with original artefacts dating from the 11th century that were found during the excavation of the area. Unfortunately all the descriptions were in Spanish only but you could get a pretty good idea of what all the objects were used for just by looking at them as the majority of them were more everyday items such as vases and jugs.
When we visited the Alcazaba it wasn't as busy as I would have thought especially as the old part of Malaga was thronging with tourists. Perhaps they were put off by the steep climb the Alcazaba poses. This steep climb does mean that it isn't really suitable for the disabled or those who have trouble walking as there are some difficult areas where the cobbling and steepness made it difficult for even me to walk by without a small struggle.
I would also recommend taking some water with you as there is nowhere inside to buy some and with all the walking and the hot Spanish sun you do get thirsty pretty quickly. Luckily the Alcazaba does have some toilets inside so you won't need to worry about making it back down for the toilet.
We spent a pleasant couple of hours just wandering around the Alcazaba enjoying the scenery and soaking up the atmosphere and it turned out to be one of my favourite attractions in Malaga. I was expecting some old ruins and was pleasantly surprised by just how well preserved the Alcazaba turned out to be. Like the majority of visitors who were there the same day as us I was most taken with the gardens. Normally I am not a fan of gardens but these patios within the complex were just so unusual and beautiful that I couldn't help but to be a little enamoured with them.
If you are heading to Malaga then the Alcazaba is a must see and for the money charged is a great value attraction. It also makes for an interesting day trip if you are staying in one of the resorts along the coast and get fed up of lying around the beach and fancy a bit of culture instead. The only downside is that visiting the Alcazaba involves lots of walking but for me the wobbly legs when we left were more than worth it.