Alcazaba & Castillo de Gibralfaro

Last Sunday we decided to tour Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro, two massive Moorish fortresses located in Málaga. We heard that these offer the best views of the city so we couldn’t pass it up.

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Sunday is the best day to visit these sites as entry is free Sundays after 14:00. Otherwise, you need to pay €3,5 for a combined ticket to visit both.

Alcazaba is located right in the city centre and Casillo de Gibralfaro further up the hill. Entering Alcazaba is easy but once inside, the path becomes a little confusing. We wandered from section to section on our own time, taking in the views of the city as well as checking out artefacts and exhibits related to the castle.

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Here’s a brief summary of Alcazaba’s history according to Andalucia.com:

Constructed on the ruins of a Roman fortification during the reign of Abd-al-Rahman I, the first Emir of Cordoba, in around 756-780AD, the Alcazaba’s original purpose was as a defence against pirates, thanks its commanding position with views over the city, down to the sea and across to Africa.

The fortress was rebuilt by the Sultan of Granada, Badis Al-Ziri, from 1057-1063AD, while the fortified double walls that connect the Alcazaba to the neighbouring Castillo de Gibralfaro, over the Coracha ridge, were built by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf I in the 14th century, when most of the inner palace was also refurbished. As a palace, it was home to a number of Moorish rulers.

The Alcazaba has a distinct feel from its more famous, younger neighbours, the Alcazar of Sevilla and the Alhambra of Granada. It was already three centuries old when the others were build. After the reconquest, it fell into decay until restoration work began in 1933, and continues slowly today. Two of its original three walls remain, as well as over 100 towers and three palaces.

The views of the city and port below are stunning at Alcazaba but the view becomes even more impressive the higher you climb. The walk from Alcazaba up the hill to Castillo de Gibralfaro was quite the workout because of the steep incline, but totally worth it in the end.

Here’s some background on Castillo de Gibralfaro, also from Andalucia.com:

The castle was built in 929AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Cordoba, on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse, from which its name was derived – gebel-faro (Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse). Yusef 1, Sultan of Granada, enlarged it at the beginning of the 14th century, also adding the double wall down to the Alcazaba.

The castle is famous for its three-month siege by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, which ended only when hunger forced the Malagueños to surrender. Afterwards Ferdinand occupied the site, while his queen took up residence in the town. Interesting historic fact: this was the first conflict in which gunpowder was used by both sides.

Neither castle was overly busy even though entry was free. Both had cafés and toilets inside, and plenty of shady places to rest.

It’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a direct path from the inside of Alcazaba to the other Castillo. After several failed attempts to find our way to Castillo de Gibralfaro, we had to exit Alcazaba completely and follow the signs directing us up the hill.

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After visiting both castles, we figured we’d wander around the city centre a bit and find something to eat. However, we forgot that nearly all grocery stores are closed on Sundays, so we had trouble finding any open shop selling fruit or anything remotely healthy. Restaurants were open but we didn’t want to eat out. (It’s too expensive for the amount of food received, plus we were craving sweet juicy fruit.) We spent an hour or so walking through the city thanks to incorrect opening hours on Google Maps. 😛 In the end, we found a Carrefour Express that happened to be open, but it didn’t have much in the way of fruit so we settled on some fruit juice instead.

Now we know to bring food with us if we plan to be away from our flat on a Sunday. At least we had a nice walking tour of Málaga. We even found more Invader! 🙂

Feel free to check out my vlog if you’d like to see more of Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. 🙂


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