The Alcazaba of Malaga in Spain


This 8thC Andalucian Fortified Palace is a Gem of Moorish Architect

Tha Alcazaba is a fine Moorish fortress and palace – a miniature Alhambra. Steeped in Spain´s turbulent history, its huge ramparts tower over the old city of Malaga.


Any visitor exploring the charming Old City of Malaga in Andalucia must include the Alcazaba; its towering ramparts and cool, colonnaded courtyards and gardens evoke the essence of Spain’s Moorish history.

The main parts of the Alcazaba were completed by Abderrahman I, the ruler of the Moorish Kingdom of Cordoba, in the 8th Century, although there had previously been Roman, and possibly even Phoenician fortifications on the site.

History of the Alcazaba de Malaga

In the 11th Century the Alcazaba passed into the hands of the Moorish rulers of Granada, who improved and extended it.

From 13th Century onwards it was seen to be vulnerable to the growing power of artillery, and underwent further major modifications. The most important of these was the extension of its defences to include an even stronger fortress, the Gibralfaro on the high ground above the Alcazaba.

Together, the twin fortresses were seen to be impregnable, and when it finally fell to the Reyes Catholicos Isabel and Ferdinand after a long siege in 1487, its surrender was due to imminent starvation, not military assault.

It was subsequently used as a Royal Palace by the Christian Kings of Spain including Felipe IV and Carlos III, and the Gibralfaro was continuously garrisoned by the Spanish Army until 1925.


Defences of the Alcazaba

Built primarily as a defensive fortress in the 8th Century, the Alacazaba is surrounded by two huge walls or ramparts, punctuated by defensive towers and separated by a walkway. The outer rampart was extended in the 14th Century to create a further protected walkway leading to and connecting with the outer walls of the Gibralfaro.

The outer walls are irregular in shape, following the contours of the hill on which the Alcazaba stands, and offer magnificent views over the city of Malaga, although the views from the Gibralfaro are even more extensive.

The curtain walls linking the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro follow a zigzag course to allow effective defensive fire to be brought to bear along them without the need for expensive towers.

The Nasrid Palace

The area inside the inner wall contains the Nasrid Palace. This was first built in the 11th Century and extended in the 13th and 14th Centuries by the Nasrid rulers of the Moorish Kingdom of Granada, who also built the Alhambra Palace.

It consists of three principle patio areas, los Surtidores, los Naranjos – the Orange Patio – and la Alberca – the Reservoir patio, which lead up the hill to the living quarters at the upper end of the palace.

The overall result is a delightful complex of patios, gardens, ornamental fountains and water channels, shaded walkways and cool interiors, ornately decorated with Moorish arches, plasterwork and mosaics.

As the restoration of the palace continues, an increasing number of these rooms contain historic exhibits of pottery, armour, etc.

Visiting the Alcazabar de Malaga

The entrance to the Alcazaba is at its lower end, at the junction of Calles Cister and Alcazabilla.

Tickets, costing from €0.60, can be bought at the entrance, either for the Alcazaba alone or for the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro together.