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Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain » City Info » History

A brief history of Malaga


Initial Settlements

The Phoenicians first colonized the city of Malaga in 1000 B.C. and named it Malaka. The name of the city probably came from the Phoenician word ‘Malac’ which means ‘to salt’. The Pheonicians settled along the Guadalhorce River, which was the fish-salting center. Slowly, Malaga became an important commercial centre, as it was rich in metals like silver and copper. The Greeks also came in and settled into an area called Mainake (6th century).

The Greek rule ended around 550 B.C. when the Carthaginians attacked and took control of Malaga. This forced the Phoenicians to also abandon their settlements as the Carthaginians took control of the commercial industry.

Roman Rule

The Romans attacked Malaga and other parts of Spain around 218BC, which drove out the Carthaginians.

When the Romans started ruling Malaga, they included it under Hispania Ulterior of Roman Empire. Under the Romans, Malaga witnessed a cultural and economical revolution as the Roman theatre and the port of Malaga were constructed. During this time Malaga was named a confederate city of Rome under the Emperor Tito’s rule, which further multiplied its importance among other Spanish cities. During the Roman rule, Malaga was amongst the few cities, which had adapted well to Roman lifestyle and where Christianity majorly became present. After the Roman Empire fell at the beginning of the 5th century, the Visigoths tribes attacked Malaga. Subsequently, when the last of Romans left Malaga, they took full control of the whole town.

Attack by the Moors

The Visigoths could not dominate Malaga for a long time and finally had to leave when the Moors attacked in 711. The Moors ruled Malaga for a long time and called Spain Al-Andalus. They left behind interesting historical structures, festivals and cultural activities.

Initially, the Moors concentrated on guarding Malaga from other foreign invaders along with expanding their territorial boundaries. It exported to the whole Meditteranean and to the seaport of the Arabian Kingdom of Grenada. Abd Al Ariz played a major role in the expansion of the town. Malaga became a significant Moorish city, famous for its figs and wine. It was one of the last Moorish cities to fall to the Christian conquerors when they attacked it in August 1487, with the help of small Christian clans within the town.

The Christian Rule

During the Christian rule the Muslims faced a lot of problems with them being sold as slaves or being killed. Malaga was transformed into a Christian town with the construction of churches and other structures, while the Moorish structures were destroyed. The only exceptions were the forts of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro. The conquerors of Christianity were Isabella and Ferdinand.

The 17th and 18th centuries were the worst periods for Malaga, with epidemics, floods, and earthquakes ruining the city. The situation improved during the 19th century and the town walls built by the Moors were demolished for expansion of the town. Malaga became a rich city and an important tourist centre. Structures like Theatre Cervantes (1866), Calle Marqus de Larios y la Alameda (1891) were built during this period. Though, the century ended on a bad note with economic crisis, new plagues and inundation.

Malaga as of Today

Economic crisis continued even during the start of the 20th century and the agricultural sector suffered the most due to natural disasters. Political instability dominated this era due to the Spanish Civil War. But during General Franco’s rule, Malaga started regaining its position as an important commercial centre.

It was not till the 1960’s that Malaga became famous as an important tourist centre with hotels and resorts sprouting all over the city. The Costa del Sol was one of the most important regions responsible for boosting the city’s economy. Malaga has undergone significant transport infrastructure since the 1900’s to improve its roads and motorway connections to other neighbouring cities.

Today Malaga is an important commercial centre and boasts of being Spain’s second largest port and its third largest international airport. It is also an important business centre with a number of international conventions held throughout the year.