We rented an apartment in Málaga for ten days, so this is a continuation of our stay (part one is linked here). Under cloudy skies, our adventure in Andalucia continued; this time taking us to the Alcazaba de Málaga, from which, the Muslim rulers of Málaga held court(from the 1100s until the 1400s). The walls are high, and even with a slight drizzle there were still a decent amount of people wandering through the courtyards and along the ramparts, viewing the Muslim archways and fountains and gardens of this centuries old fortress.
In front of the Alcazaba is the ancient Roman theater, dating back to the 3rd century. Though it seems almost like an afterthought, with the towering Alcazaba directly behind it, but it is well intact.
There is the option to purchase a ticket for the Alcazaba and the Gilbrafaro Castle, which is an an even higher point in the city. Originally built in the late 900s and later improved in the 14th century to protect Alcazaba, the castle provides spectacular views of the city ocean, and (unfortunately) the port, below, which can be viewed from multiple large platforms. There is also a little cafe inside the grounds to grab a snack, similar to the one inside Alcazaba.
The walk up is a bit strenuous, but it provides great views of the city gardens as well as the Plaza del Toros.
There was also a Parador hotel, which I have mentioned a few times (at least) in previous posts; these are hotels that are located in historical sites; whether they be convents, monasteries, castles and the like; they also have excellent coffee. So we grabbed a coffee at the nearby Parador (definitely go here for coffee or a snack and skip the cafe inside the castle and the convenience stand just outside it), took in the scenery under the building’s overhang while it drizzled. Once finished, we opened the umbrella, and started the long trek back down to sea level, walking past a lookout point populated by one lone lamppost. So you know I had to get a picture.
I mentioned in our last post that there are a lot of museums in town, but one that our hosts mentioned and we found intriguing was the Coleción del Museo Ruso, which is a museum of Russian art; it seemed odd that it would be located in Málaga, but it was, and we took the long walk from Old Town to get there, albeit another day under rainy skies.
We arrived at the museum and found we were among few visitors, but present world conditions could have contributed to that. Our bag had to go through airport style x-ray machine and we had to get wanded down by the security guard (which is uncommon when entering museums in Spain). In most of the museums I have visited in my life, seeing paintings of Russian history are rare; and that helped make this museum special.
The first exhibit we came to was on Fyodor Dostoevsky, and it had some different pictures, statues, and sketches done of the author; as well as a stone “death mask (weird).”
Continuing on, the galleries were organized by time-period; while many of the paintings and sculptures were from the 1800s and onward, the scenes they depicted were often times older. Below are some of my favorites. The details on the statues were especially impressive, and looking at them from front and back, inspecting every detail, was a must.
Each room was from a different war during the history of Russia; against the Tartars, the Livonians, the Swedish, the Polish, and others, including the Bolshevik revolution and World War Two. If there was a take away from all of this excellent art (and there was a lot of it), is that Russia has fought (and continues to) many wars over the years. Many of these paintings did not celebrate war or battle though, and many portrayed the brutality and hardship involved. It was somber and enlightening all at the same time, as explanations of each time period (in English and Spanish) accompanied each gallery room, which pulled no punches.
The museum concluded with a temporary exhibit entitled “VANGUARDIAS EN EL ARTE RUSO” which were works by Russian Avant-garde artists, and were just as interesting as the previous historical gallery. From Futurism to Neo-primitivism, abstraction,and suprematism, there were many intriguing artworks to take in. All arranged in a very clear and descriptive way.
The museum is well curated and it shows, and highly recommended for a visit when in Málaga. The museum is actually a part of the Tabacalera, which is the site of the former city Tobacco factory, built in the 1930s. The Russian Museum is in one building,and there is also a car museum called the Málaga Automobile Museum, as well as some municipal offices. It is an impressive complex, and I had to cross the street to get a picture of Jesse in front of the entry gates.
Our apartment hosts recommended a restaurant/bar in the Old Town, only a few minutes from our apartment named El Pimpi. We tried to make reservations but they were booked; they recommended stopping in to see if there were any tables; so we did, and sat at the bar. We shared drinks, some of the best croquetas we’ve eaten in Spain, and a local favorite, berenjenas fritas con miel (which are lightly breaded and fried sliced eggplant with a molasses syrup that is drizzled on top).
On the walls across from the bar are many photos of famous Spaniards taken in front of the El Pimpi barrels, including the actor Antonio Banderas, who we learned was from Málaga and part owner of the place. He even has an apartment in the same building. We heard he was in town as the upcoming Sunday begins Semana Santa (or holy week) in Málaga, which is a very big deal. Unfortunately we did not see Antonio, but we did get to enjoy some tasty food and drinks and then had to have a dessert of some gelato at one of the many, many gelaterias around town, before calling it a night. Come see how we spent our remaining time in Málaga (and my birthday!) in the next post!