If Spain has one thing in abundance (besides wine, ham, olives, and men in white capri pants) it has to be ancient fortresses. Fortress: from the medieval Latin fortalitia, fort, castle, citadel, stronghold, bastion. I never, EVER get tired of visiting a castle or fortress. I mean, if it’s got some towers, maybe a dungeon, I’m there! They are one of my favorite tourist activities!! (I am sure it has nothing to do with the standard little-girl-I-wanna-grow-up-and-be-a-princess fantasy.) Psh.
So when I moved to Málaga in June, one of the top things on my to-do list (standard, you guys know how I love my lists) was to visit Málaga’s two big fortresses: the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. In the city center, right next to the port, there is a giant hill/mini mountain that overlooks all of Málaga, and guess what is perched on top? That’s right, the Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba.
The entrance to the Alcazaba is right next to some cool Roman ruins and a well-preserved amphitheater. It dates to the 11th century during the Islamic occupation, and nowadays it mostly in ruins. There is a brick path that winds up through the fortress ruins on the smaller side of the hill. As you climb up you can climb around on the ivy-covered crumbling walls and wander through the gardens and Moorish arches, trying to imagine what it must have looked like 1000 years ago. It doesn’t hurt that you get beautiful views of the Mediterranean and the harbor either.
Now I saved visiting the Gibralfaro for a different day for two reasons. One: I really wanted to take my time and not feel rushed (especially since I couldn’t go up there at least til 5 in the afternoon because it’s so bloody hot) and two: because by the time I climbed up to the top of the Alcazaba, I realized it was rather hazy so the views weren’t as spectacular as I knew they could be. So I decided to wait and go a different, clearer day to the Gibralfaro. Now don’t bother working out, because climbing up to the Gibralfaro is a HIKE (albeit a beautiful one). You get there on the other side of the hill, by the park by the harbor. Idiot me was sunburned to a crisp and wearing a cute impractical dress and sandals for possible pictures, which meant by the time I got to the top I was a sweaty mess and unfit for pictures.
However, the views from the Gibralfaro were breathtaking and so worth the climb!! The Gibralfaro outdates the Alcazaba big time as it is Phoenician in origin (8th centure BC). I spent hours wandering around the walls overlooking the city of Málaga, just staring off into the distance and just enjoying the moment. If you ever come to Málaga and you can only do one thing, let this be it. I promise it is magical! On that note, I am going to leave you with a cheesy quote that I absolutely adore, and it is a feeling that I live for when I am traveling: