Málaga (, Spanish: [ˈmalaɣa]) is a municipality of Spain, capital of the Province of Málaga, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. With a population of 578,460 in 2020, it is the second-most populous city in Andalusia after Seville and the sixth most populous in Spain. It lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean, about 100 kilometres (62.14 miles) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km (80.78 mi) north of Africa.
Málaga's history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. According to most scholars, it was founded about 770 BC by the Phoenicians as Malaka (Punic: 𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤀, MLKʾ). From the 6th century BC the city was under the hegemony of Ancient Carthage, and from 218 BC, it was ruled by the Roman Republic and then empire as Malaca (Latin). After the fall of the empire and the end of Visigothic rule, it was under Islamic rule as Mālaqah (Arabic: مالقة) for 800 years, but in 1487, the Crown of Castille gained control in the midst of the Granada War. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an "open museum", displaying its history of nearly 3,000 years.
The most important business sectors in Málaga are tourism, construction and technology services, but other sectors such as transportation and logistics are beginning to expand. Málaga has consolidated as tech hub, with companies mainly concentrated in the Málaga TechPark (Technology Park of Andalusia). It hosts the headquarters of the region's largest bank, Unicaja, and it is the fourth-ranking city in Spain in terms of economic activity behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Regarding transportation, Málaga is served by the Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport and the Port of Málaga, whereas the city is connected to the high-speed railway network since 2007.
Phoenicians from Tyre founded a colony named Málaka (Greek: Μάλακα) or Malake about 770 BC. The town controlled access to the Guadalmedina and served as a waypoint on trade routes between Phoenicia and the Strait of Gibraltar. Like other Phoenician colonies, it fell under Carthaginian rule during the 6th or 5th century BC. The Phoenician and Later Roman urban core developed around an area running from the Gibralfaro Hill to the mouth of the Malaca flumen (Guadalmedina).
After the Punic Wars, the Roman Republic took control of the town known to them as Malaca. By the 1st century BC, Strabo alluded to its Phoenician profile, in contrast to the hellenized characteristics of the neighbouring settlement of Mainake.
Transformed into a confederated city, it was under a special law, the Lex Flavia Malacitana. A Roman theatre was built at this time. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it was ruled first by the Visigoths. The city was taken circa 552 by the Byzantine Empire; either Malaca or Carthago Nova possibly then becoming the capital of the province of Spania. The Byzantines restored and expanded the docks, thus consolidating the fishing and trading tradition the city already enjoyed. The city was retaken by the Visigoth King Sisebuto in 615. The visigoths ruled the city until the Umayyad Caliphate's conquest of the area in 711.
In the 8th century, the city became an important regional trade center. After its secession from the Abbassid caliphate, the Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba (later Caliphate) ruled over the town known to them as Mālaqah. The early 10th-century chronicle of Aḥmad al-Rāzī mentions the vineyards of Málaga, extolling the unparalleled quality of its raisins. After the demise of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Malaqah became the capital of a distinct taifa kingdom.
The traveller Ibn Battuta, who passed through around 1325, characterised it as "one of the largest and most beautiful towns of Andalusia [uniting] the conveniences of both sea and land, and... abundantly supplied with foodstuffs and fruits". He praised its grapes, figs, and almonds; "its ruby-coloured Murcian pomegranates have no equal in the world." Another exported product was its "excellent gilded pottery". The town's mosque was large and beautiful, with "exceptionally tall orange trees" in its courtyard.
After the formation of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in the 13th century, Málaga became a part of it. The export-oriented harbour traded silk fabrics, dry nuts (raisins, almonds and the famous Raiya figs, reportedly exported to as far as China), vine, cutlery, leather and the famous regional lustreware.
In the 15th century, Málaga was the main Nasrid port (followed by Almería), featuring a notable presence of Genoese merchants. It played a role both as stopover of the Atlantic international trade (as part of the routes connecting the Central Mediterranean to the North Atlantic) and as regional trading cog of the Kingdom of Granada. By the last rales of Nasrid rule, the city had a population of about 15,000.
Málaga was seized by Christian forces on 18 August 1487, after a 3-month 11 days siege, in what it was the most violent episode of the Granada War. The Muslim inhabitants resisted assaults and artillery bombardments before hunger forced them to surrender; practically the entire remaining population (around 11,000 people) became war captives and were sold into slavery in other Andalusian cities as well as Valencia and Barcelona. Only a minority of around 50 people led by merchant Alí Dordux were allowed to remain in the city.
The city was swiftly repopulated by Christian settlers coming from different locations of the Iberian Peninsula. Málaga became an exporting centre for Andalusia via the link of the city with Antequera and Córdoba, maintaining its trading character despite the nearly complete replacement of the population. The city did not escape a series of typhus fever outbreaks following its annexation to the Crown of Castile.
Following the death of regent Ferdinand the city rose in revolt in 1516 on the occasion of the installment of a new court controlled by the Admiral of Castile. It was only on 2 December 1530 when Málaga was freed from the influence of the Admiralty for good, confirming the privileges granted in the past by the Catholic Monarchs.
The city's economy profited from an early industrialisation in the first third of the 19th century and the population steadily increased until the last years of the century, when the population decreased between 1887 and 1897 due to the economic crisis induced by the Phylloxera plague. The century saw the accumulation of capital in an enriched bourgeoisie class, that invested in the incipient industrial development.
The municipality of Málaga annexed the coastal town of Torremolinos in 1924.
After the coup of July 1936 the government of the Second Republic retained control of Málaga. Its harbour was a base of the Republican navy at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. It suffered heavy bombing by Italian warships which took part in breaking the Republican navy's blockade of Nationalist-held Spanish Morocco and took part in naval bombardment of Republican-held Málaga. After the Battle of Málaga and the Francoist takeover in February 1937, over seven thousand people were killed, as they were trying to flee the city through the road to Almería.
The well-known British journalist and writer Arthur Koestler was captured by the Nationalist forces on their entry into Málaga, which formed the material for his book Spanish Testament. The first chapters of the book include an eye-witness account of the 1937 fall of Málaga to Francisco Franco’s armies during the Spanish Civil War.
The city also suffered shelling later by Spanish Republican naval units.
Torremolinos—originally a small coastal town—greatly developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, becoming an international tourist centre. The first gay bar in Spain was opened in Torremolinos in 1962 (and the first lesbian club in 1968), and the place acquired a lively LGTB life, to the point of being described as "the most 'cosmopolitan' and gay-friendly place in all of Spain". Nearly a decade after, in 1971, a policial crackdown seeking to curb "offences against public morality and decency" largely put an end to the appeal of the place, only regaining its status as hub of LGBT leisure and tourism after the death of the dictator.
Torremolinos became independent from the municipality of Málaga in September 1988.
Málaga is located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) on the northern side of the Alboran Sea (the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea). It lies about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Tarifa (the southernmost point of continental Europe) and about 130 km (81 miles) to the north of Africa.
The Montes de Málaga mountain range (part of the Penibaetic System) is located in the northeast of the municipality. The highest point in the range (and in the municipality) is the Pico Reina, rising up to 1,031 m (3,383 ft) above sea level.
The city centre is located around the mouth of the Guadalmedina and close to the Guadalhorce's mouth (where the airport is located). The Totalán Creek constitutes the eastern boundary of Málaga with the municipality of Rincón de la Victoria.
The climate is subtropical-Mediterranean (Köppen climate classification: Csa) with very mild winters and hot summers. Málaga enjoys plenty of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of about 300 days of sunshine and only about 40–45 with precipitation annually. Its coastal location with winds blowing from the Mediterranean Sea make the heat manageable during the summer.
Málaga experiences the warmest winters of any European city with a population over 500,000. The average maximum temperature during the day in the period from December to February is 17–18 °C (63–64 °F). During the winter, the Málaga Mountains (Montes de Málaga) block the passage of cold winds from the north.[better source needed] Its average annual temperature is 23.3 °C (73.9 °F) during the day and 13.7 °C (56.7 °F) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature ranges from 14 to 20 °C (57 to 68 °F) during the day, 5 to 10 °C (41 to 50 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is 16 °C (61 °F). In the warmest month, August, the temperature ranges from 26 to 34 °C (79 to 93 °F) during the day, above 20 °C (68 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is 23 °C (73 °F).
Large fluctuations in temperature are rare. The highest temperature ever recorded at the airport was 44.2 °C (111.6 °F) on 18 July 1978. In August 1881, the average reported daytime maximum temperature was a record 34.8 °C (94.6 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded was −3.8 °C (25.2 °F) on 4 February 1954. The highest wind speed ever recorded was on 16 July 1980, measuring 119 km/h (73.94 mph). Snowfall is virtually unknown; since the beginning of the 20th century, Málaga city has only recorded snow on one day, on 2 February 1954.
Annual average relative humidity is 65%, ranging from 58% in June to 72% in December. Yearly sunshine hours is between 2,800 and 3,000 per year, from 5–6 hours of sunshine per day in December to average 11 hours of sunshine per day in July. Rain occurs mainly in winter, with summer being generally dry.
The old historic centre of Málaga reaches the harbour to the south. In the north it is surrounded by mountains, the Montes de Málaga (part of the Baetic Cordillera) lying in the southern base of the Axarquía hills, and two rivers, the Guadalmedina – the historic center is located on its left bank – and the Guadalhorce, which flows west of the city into the Mediterranean, in the Churriana district.
The oldest architectural remains in the city are the walls of the Phoenician city, which are visible in the cellar of the Museo Picasso Málaga.
The Roman theatre of Málaga, which dates from the 1st century BC, was rediscovered in 1951.
The Moors left posterity the dominating presence of the Castle of Gibralfaro, which is connected to the Alcazaba, the lower fortress and royal residence. Both were built during the Taifa period (11th century) and extended during the Nasrid period (13th and 14th centuries). The Alcazaba stands on a hill within the city. Originally, it defended the city from the incursions of pirates. Later, in the 11th century, it was completely rebuilt by the Hammudid dynasty. Occupying the eastern hillside that rises from the sea and overlooks the city, the Alcazaba was surrounded by palms and pine trees.
Like many of the military fortifications that were constructed in Islamic Spain, the Alcazaba of Málaga featured a quadrangular plan. It was protected by an outer and inner wall, both supported by rectangular towers, between which a covered walkway led up the slope to the Gibralfaro (this was the only exchange between the two sites). Due to its rough and awkward hillside topography, corridors throughout the site provided a means of communications for administrative and defensive operations, also affording privacy to the palatial residential quarters.
The entrance of the complex featured a grand tower that led into a sophisticated double bent entrance. After passing through several gates, open yards with beautiful gardens of pine and eucalyptus trees, and the inner wall through the Puerta de Granada, one finds the 11th- and 14th-century Governor's palace. It was organised around a central rectangular courtyard with a triple-arched gateway and some of the rooms have been preserved to this day. An open 11th-century mirador (belvedere) to the south of this area affords views of the gardens and sea below. Measuring 2.5 square metres (27 square feet), this small structure highlighted scalloped, five-lobed arches. To the north of this area were a waterwheel and a Cyclopean well (penetrating forty metres or 130 feet below ground), a hammam, workshops and the monumental Puerta de la Torre del Homenaje, the northernmost point of the inner walls. Directly beyond was the passage to the Gibralfaro above.
The Church of Santiago (Saint James) is an example of Gothic vernacular Mudéjar, the hybrid style that evolved after the Reconquista incorporating elements from both Christian and Islamic tradition. Also from the period is the Iglesia del Sagrario, which was built on the site of the old mosque immediately after the city fell to Christian troops. It boasts a richly ornamented portal in the Isabeline-Gothic style, unique in the city.
The , built in the late 17th century, has a chapel in which the vertical volume is filled with elaborate Baroque plasterwork.
As of 2018, the population of Málaga is 571,026, accounting for 527,463 Spanish nationals and 43,563 foreign citizens.
The urban area, stretching mostly along a narrow strip of coastline, has a population of 1,066,532 on 827.33 square kilometres (319.43 sq mi) (density 1,289 inhabitants/km2 – 2012 data). It is formed by Málaga proper together with the following adjacent towns and municipalities: Rincón de la Victoria, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Alhaurín de la Torre, Mijas, Marbella and San Pedro Alcántara. The Málaga metropolitan area includes additional municipalities located mostly in the mountains area north of the coast and also some on the coast: Cártama, Pizarra, Coín, Monda, Ojén, Alhaurín el Grande and Estepona on west; Casabermeja on north; Totalán, Algarrobo, Torrox and Vélez-Málaga eastward from Málaga; centered Málaga urban area (Málaga, Rincón de la Victoria, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Marbella, Mijas) and Alhaurín de la Torre.
Together about 1.3 million (max. 1.6 million) people live in the Málaga metropolitan area and the number grows every year as all the municipalities and cities of the area record an annual increase in population.
Málaga is a municipality, the basic local administrative division in Spain. The Ayuntamiento is the body charged with the municipal government and administration. The Plenary of the ayuntamiento is formed by 31 elected municipal councillors, who in turn invest the mayor. The last municipal election took place on 26 May 2019. The current mayor is Francisco de la Torre (People's Party), who has won several mandates since becoming mayor in 2000. The city hall is located at the Casona del Parque, a Neo-Baroque building inaugurated in 1919.
The most important business sectors in Málaga are tourism, construction and technology services, but other sectors such as transportation and logistics are beginning to expand. The Andalusia Technology Park (PTA) (In Spanish, "Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía"), located in Málaga, has enjoyed significant growth since its inauguration in 1992 by the King of Spain. In 2018, this high-tech, science and industrial park employs over 16,774 workers, according to its own numbers.
In line with the city's strategic plan, the campaign "Málaga: Open for Business" is directed towards the international promotion of the city on all levels but fundamentally on a business level. The campaign places a special emphasis on new technologies as well as innovation and research in order to promote the city as a reference and focal point for many global business initiatives and projects.
Málaga is a city of commerce and tourism has been a growing source of revenue, driven by the presence of a major airport, the improvement of communications, and new infrastructure such as the AVE and the maritime station, and new cultural facilities such as the Picasso Museum, the Contemporary Art Centre and Trade Fair and Congress, which have drawn more tourists.
The city hosts the International Association of Science and Technology Parks (IASP) (Asociación Internacional de Parques Tecnológicos), and a group of IT company executives and business leaders has launched an information sector initiative, Málaga Valley e-27, which seeks to make Málaga the Silicon Valley of Europe. Málaga has had strong growth in new technology industries, mainly located in the Technological Park of Andalusia, and in the construction sector. The city is home to the largest bank in Andalusia, Unicaja, and such local companies as Mayoral, Charanga, Sando, Vera, Ubago, Isofoton, Tedial, Novasoft, Grupo Vértice and Almeida viajes, and other multinationals such as Fujitsu Spain, Pernod Ricard Spain, Accenture, Epcos, Oracle Corporation, Huawei and San Miguel. In February 2021, Google decided to install a centre of excellence in cybersecurity in the city, slated for a 2023 opening. Also in 2021, Vodafone chose Málaga for the installment of a research, development and innovation centre.
Holy Week has been observed for five centuries in Málaga. Processions start on Palm Sunday and continue until Easter Sunday. Images depicting scenes from the Passion are displayed on huge ornate tronos (floats or thrones), some weighing more than 5,000 kilograms (11,000 pounds). Famous is the royal archbrotherhood of Our-Lady of Hope Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza. They have more than 5,000 members and 600 nazarenos. These tronos highlight the processions that go through the streets led by penitents dressed in long robes, with capirote, followed by women in black carrying candles. Drums and trumpets play music and occasionally someone spontaneously sings a mournful saeta dedicated to the floats as they make their way slowly round the streets. Some Holy Week tronos are so huge that they must be housed in places outside the churches, as they are taller than the entrance doors. Famous is the military procession of "la legion" (Royal congregation of Mena) playing marches and singing their anthem (El Novio de la Muerte) during procession.
During the celebration of the Feria de Málaga in August, the streets are transformed into traditional symbols of Spanish culture and history, with sweet wine, tapas, and live flamenco shows. The day events consist of dancing, live music (such as flamenco or verdiales, traditional music from Málaga) and bullfights at La Malagueta, while the night fair is moved to the Recinto Ferial, consisting of restaurants, clubs, and an entire fair ground with rides and games.
The Málaga Film Festival (Festival de Málaga Cine Español; FMCE), dedicated exclusively to films produced in Spain, is one of the most important film festivals in the country. It is held annually during a week in March or April.
The Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales takes place every year on 28 December during which Spain's April Fool Day is celebrated.
The Fiestas de Carnaval, in which people dress in all types of costumes, takes place prior to the holy 40 days of Lent every February. A contest is held in the Teatro Cervantes between groups of singers, quartets and choirs who compete in the singing of ironic songs about social and political issues. The Carnival takes to the streets of Málaga on the week before Ash Wednesday, ending on Malagueta beach with the burial of the anchovy (entierro de la sardina).
The cuisine of Málaga and the wider Costa del Sol is known for its espetos, fish (most often sardines) grilled over open fires in the chiringuitos located near the beaches. The espeto has been proposed as a candidate for designation by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
Most of the population of Málaga professes Roman Catholicism as its religion, although not many are practising Catholics. Protestants also have a presence in Málaga: one of seven congregations of the Reformed Churches in Spain is based in the city and is the only one that permits paedocommunion, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing.
Málaga is home to three major professional sports teams. These include:
The city hosted the 21st World Transplant Games from 25 June to 2 July 2017 
The city is an important tourist destination, known as "the capital of the Costa del Sol". An estimated 6 million tourists visit the city each year. Tourists usually visit the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and the Museo Picasso Málaga, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the old town or the beaches. The Málaga harbour is also the second busiest cruise port of the Iberian Peninsula.
A popular walk leads up the hill to the Gibralfaro castle (a Parador), offering panoramic views over the city. The castle is next to the Alcazaba, the old Muslim palace, which in turn is next to the inner city of Málaga. Other nearby attractions are the Roman Theatre, the old Jewish quarter, the cathedral, and the Church of Santiago in mudéjar style. A popular walk follows the Paseo del Parque (a promenade that runs alongside a grand park with many palm trees and statues) to the harbour, ending in Calle Larios, the main commercial street of the city. There is also a curious museum, the Museum of the Holy Week, which includes an impressive display of Baroque ecclesiastical items.
In the early part of the 21st century, the city of Málaga invested heavily (more than 100 million euros in 10 years) in the arts to draw tourists and establish itself as a cultural Andalucia destination with 28 museums. Some notable and recently opened museums include the Museo Municipal de Málaga, the Museo de Málaga (Fine Arts and Archeology museum) at the Palacio de la Aduana, Carmen Thyssen Museum, opened in 2011, located at Palacio de Villalón, the Museo Picasso Málaga (opened in 2003, at the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista) near the cathedral.[n. 1] the Centre Pompidou Málaga (opened in 2015, located in El Cubo), the Fundación Picasso and Picasso Birthplace Museum, the Colección del Museo Ruso (Collection of the Russian Museum) Saint Petersburg/Málaga, (opened in 2015, located in the Tabacalera building), the Museum Jorge Rando (opened in 2015), the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions), and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga (CAC Málaga; opened 2003, near the Alameda train station).
Since the launch of the ‘Plan de Fomento del Plurilingüismo’ in 2005, 169 schools in Malaga have included bilingual education in their programmes. Although English is the most usual second language, many other primary and secondary schools in Malaga offer the choice of French, German, Arabic, Portuguese or Chinese. This first action has been followed by a second project run by the Junta de Andalucia. The so-called "Plan Estratégico de Desarrollo de las Lenguas en Andalucía" intends to provide pupils with a basic level (B1) of at least one foreign language.
Dance, music, drama, visual arts and crafts also have a place in the public education system of Málaga. Some of the most relevant artistic schools are:
Malaga has become one of the leading destinations for Spanish courses. In 2017, 16,692 students visited Malaga to enroll in Spanish courses, 17.6% more than 2016.
The public University of Málaga (UMA) was created in 1972. Earlier in the 20th-century a branch of the University of Granada (a Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences) had been opened in the city in 1963. As of 2012 the UMA had 35,354 students.
The campus of the UMA is located in the Western neighbourhood of Teatinos. There are 13 different faculties, namely: Fine Arts, Science, Communication, Education, Health Sciences, Economic and Business Sciences, Business and Management, Law, Social Work and Studies, Humanities, Medicine, Psychology, and Tourism. In addition there are 5 higher technical schools, the Higher Polytechnic School, the Higher Technical School of Architecture, the Higher Technical School of Telecommunication Engineering, the Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineering and the Higher Technical School of Computer Engineering.
The city is served by Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, one of the first in Spain and the oldest still in operation. In 2008, it handled 12,813,472 passengers, making it the fourth-busiest in Spain. It is the international airport of Andalusia, accounting for 85 percent of its international traffic. The airport, connected to the Costa del Sol, has a daily link with twenty cities in Spain and over a hundred cities in Europe (mainly in the United Kingdom, Central Europe and the Nordic countries but also the main cities of Eastern Europe: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Budapest, Sofia, Warsaw or Bucharest), North Africa, Middle East (Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait) and North America (New York City, Toronto and Montreal).
The Port of Málaga is the city's seaport, operating continuously at least since 600 BC. The port is one of the busiest ports on the Mediterranean Sea, with a trade volume of over 428,623 TEU and 642,529 passenger in 2008.
The port has a ferry connection to the Port of Melilla, playing a role in the so-called Operación paso del estrecho ("Operation Pass of the Strait"), the planned seasonal transit of passengers during the summer months from Europe to North-Africa (and back to Europe).
The A45 road leads north to Antequera and Córdoba. The Autovía A-7 parallels the N-340 road, both leading to Cádiz to the west through the Costa del Sol Occidental and Barcelona to the east through the Costa del Sol Oriental.
Empresa Malagueña de Transportes buses are the main form of transport around the city. Málaga's bus station is connected with the city by the bus line number 4, although it is only ten minutes' walk to the Alameda from there.
The buses of the Málaga Metropolitan Transport Consortium (Consorcio de Transporte Metropolitano del Área de Málaga) are the main mean of transportation around the city of Málaga and the surrounding municipalities.
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Malaga, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 49 min. 6% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 9 min, while 8% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 4.1 km, while 1% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.