Malaga History Facts and Timeline

(Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain)

The sunny city of Malaga, on Spain's Costa del Sol, is much more than a playground for winter beachgoers. The history of Malaga stretches back some 3,000 years, with almost a dozen different cultures ruling over the city during this time.

Monuments and archaeological remains in the historic city centre originate from Romans, Arabs and Christians, and together showcase the city's remarkable heritage.

Strategic Port

The history of Malaga begins nearly three millennia ago, when Phoenicians from Tyre founded a port they called Malaka around the year of 770 BC. For centuries, the port was an important centre for maritime trade, exporting resources like copper and silver. The Phoenician era lasted until 550 BC, when the Carthaginians took control of this region of the Mediterranean.

The Roman Empire

When the Romans made their way into the Iberian Peninsula, they easily conquered Malaga in 218 BC, establishing a cultural and economic centre for their Ulterior Spain region. This was an important period in the history of Malaga, since the city developed major sites like the Roman Theatre and the Port of Malaga.

By the beginning of the 5th century, the Roman Empire was in decline and Malaga was regularly attacked by Visigoth tribes. By 623 AD, the Goths had taken control of the city and the last Roman troops left.

The Moors

When the Moors conquered southern Iberia in 711 AD, they continued the importance of Malaga as a trading hub. The town wall, its five great gates and the Alcazaba were all constructed during the Moors' rule. Even when the Christians regained control of the majority of Spain in the 11th century, the town remained firmly under Muslim rule for the next four centuries.

Malaga was the principal commercial port for the Emirate of Granada, the last of the Moorish kingdoms to resist the Christian Reconquista. It wasn't until 1487 that the town was finally conquered by Christian forces, and Granada fell five years later.

Christian Era

It was standard practice at the time to destroy all traces of the Moors. Thankfully, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro fortifications were left intact as the Christians used them to defend the town like the Arabs before them.

The great cathedral of Malaga was built between 1528 and 1598, although overall, the Christian era marked a somewhat troubled time for the city. The 17th and 18th centuries were notable for the series of epidemics and natural disasters that prevented the city from developing further.

Tourism Arrives

During the 1800s, Malaga began to attract wealthy Europeans looking for a warm sunny place to spend their time. Both the Cervantes Theatre and the Calle Marqués de Larios y la Alameda were built during this time. After the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, Malaga suffered heavy bombing when nationalist General Francisco Franco's army took the city in 1937.

When the 1960s arrived, Malaga really took off as a hot tourism destination. The entire Costa del Sol emerged as the big favourite for tourism development in Spain, and Malaga remains at its centre today.

This lively cosmopolitan city is also Spain's second-largest port and one of the busiest cities in southern Spain. Each year, more than 100 conventions are held here, with the local airport ranking as the country's third-largest international gateway.