Alcazaba of Málaga - History and Facts | History Hit

Alcazaba of Málaga

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

The Alcazaba of Malaga is a picturesque and formidable 11th century Moorish citadel.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About Alcazaba of Málaga

The Alcazaba of Malaga (Alcazaba de Málaga) is a picturesque 11th century Moorish citadel said to be one of the most important of its kind in Spain. Historians have put its construction as having taken place between 1057 and 1063 under the rule of Berber king, Badis ben Habus. Over the years, the Alcazaba of Malaga has been restored several times, but its original grandeur and imposing nature remain clear.

Visitors to the Alcazaba of Malaga can also see the remains of a ruined Roman theatre, whose materials are also said to have been used in building the palace fortress.

Alcazaba of Málaga history

According to Arab historians, it was built between 1057 and 1063 at the instructions of Badis, King of the Berber Taifa of Granada. Transported material was used in its construction and columns, capitals and other materials were taken from the nearby Roman Theatre.

Between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, Málaga and the Alcazaba remained under the rule of various Muslim dynasties: the Almoravid dynasty in 1092, the Almohad Caliphate in 1146 and the Nasrid dynasty in 1279. It was under the Nasrid Kingdom when the Alcazaba enjoyed its greatest splendour undergoing alterations that would convert it into an impenetrable fortress, whilst on the inside, it acquired the kind of delicate beauty that is seen in the architecture of the Alhambra of Granada. Finally, in 1340, the Nasrid King Yusuf I would build Gibralfaro Castle at the top of the hill.

In 1487 the Alcazaba encountered its first major siege which is was subjected to by Catholic military forces. For four months the Muslim army, formed of 15,000 men, resisted an army of 80,000 until finally surrendering.

The fortress was maintained in good conditions until the seventeenth century when two events contributed to its deterioration: the severe earthquake of 1680, and the damage caused by an attack by French ships in 1693 during the Nine Years’ War. From then the fortress was employed for various uses, including a prison, hospital and even homes located on the lower part, until the thirties when rehabilitation work began and the compound was declared Historical Heritage of Spain, now an Asset of Cultural Interest.

The building’s military components make it one of the most important Muslim works in Spain today.

It was restored several times and most recently in the 20th century, and today the building and its important archaeological legacy can be visited.

Alcazaba of Málaga today

The compound, which spans 15,000 square metres and can now be visited by climbing up on foot or by taking the lift from Calle Guillén Sotelo in front of the City Hall building.

The Palace is structured around three courtyards, the first of which is the Los Surtidores courtyard, which has a central fountain and original arches from the Caliphate period. From the courtyard you can access Armadura Mudéjar Tower which has a wooden coffered ceiling from the sixteenth century and a detailed model of the Alcazaba, as well as Maldonado Tower, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Málaga. From here you will come to the outstanding Nasrid Palace and its beautiful Orange Tree Courtyard.

On the way down from the Alcazaba, visitors can stop to see the Roman Theatre that was discovered right at the foot of the fortress in 1951. Right next to it is a visitors’ centre that has information about the history of the theatre that was built in the 1st century AD and was plundered by the Moors centuries later to build the Alcazaba.

Getting to Alcazaba of Málaga

The Alcazaba is in the historic centre of Málaga and can be accessed on foot. There is also a lift which can be accessed on Calle Guillén Sotelo, in front of the City Hall building. Bus route 35 runs to Gibralfaro Castle from Paseo del Parque.