History of Malaga

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Early Inhabitants and Roman Rule:

The region that is present day Malaga was probably inhabited from before 1000BC, although the first known settlement on the site was by the Phoenicians in around 800BC. It is the Phoenicians that gave rise to the cityâs name â" they called the settlement âMalakaâ (meaning âfish salting placeâ). As well as being a centre for fish salting, the area became an important commercial trading post for the Phoenicians.

Greeks and Carthaginians later arrived in the area, though life didnât change much until the arrival of the Romans in around 200BC. Fresh from their victory in the Punic Wars, the Romans expanded their empire throughout much of the region.

The Romans made Malaga, or Flavia Malacita as they called it, into an important city both culturally and economically. They also made Malaga a confederate city of Rome and it flourished as trade increased and roads and buildings were constructed. The most important evidence left over from the Roman times is the Roman Theatre that was built just below the fortress Alcazaba. The arrival of Christianity in the region was also attributable to the Romans.

Vandals, Visigoths and Moors:

The decline of the Roman Empire was well under way by the 5th century and Malaga found itself subject to repeated attacks by the Vandals and the Visigoths from Germany. By around 600AD the Visigoths had control of the city and the last Roman troops were gone. The Visigothâs hold of Malaga did not last long, however, as pretty soon the Moors had their sights set on the Spanish coast.

Dates vary, but it was sometime towards the middle of the 8th century when the Moors assumed control of Malaga. The city flourished again and grew under Moorish rule as constructions such as the town wall with its 5 great gates began. Culture and commerce expanded too, as Malaga became one of the most important trading posts in the region for the Moors. The Alcazaba fortress which can still be seen today was constructed here (it is the same site of former Roman and Phoenician fortresses). The Moors remained in Malaga for more than 700 years.

The Spanish rule:

The Spanish launched a successful invasion in the 15th century. Malaga changed greatly in subsequent years as the Spanish destroyed most of the Moorish buildings and began replacing Muslim monuments with Christian ones. The fortresses of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro did remain, however, as they were used them to defend the city. The conquering Christians were ruthless with the Moors, who were killed, sold as slaves or forcefully converted to Christianity.

The 16th and 17th centuries were blighted by disease, famine, floods and earthquakes and Malaga floundered. Recovery was slow, though growth in sea trade especially with America helped greatly. The harbour was constructed and life began to improve considerably. The town walls built by the Moors were knocked down to make way for the cityâs expansion.

The early 1800s saw a return to troubles for the city as a devastating yellow fever outbreak was followed a few years later by the French invasion under Napoleon. In 1810 the city was taken by the French, though their rule did not last long as Malaga was in Spanish hands once more by 1812. The following year, King Ferdinand VII ascended to the throne of Spain as assumed a tyrannical rein. In 1931 he ordered the arrest of General Torrijos, a liberal opposed to the king, and had him and his troops executed on the beaches of Malaga. A monument stands at the spot today to commemorate General Torrijos and his troops.

Ferdinand VII died in 1833 and his death heralded an improvement for Malaga fortuneâs which saw it become an important centre for the countryâs industrial revolution. Iron, steel and textile factories arrived in the city bringing money and jobs to the inhabitants. However, things took a turn for the worse once more at the end of the century as the loss of many of Spainâs colonies hit Malagaâs industries hard. Problems were compounded by competition from Catalan industries, the rising price of coal, and a phylloxera outbreak that devastated the vineyards. The political situation in Spain at the time also increased uncertainties and it wasnât until Francoâs victory in the Spanish Civil War that industry (if not freedom) began to recover.

The tourist invasion!

The 1950s heralded the start of the tourist boom, and by the 1960s Malaga began its rapid change into the city it is today. The great climate and beaches began to attract tourists and the advent of cheap air travel and package tourism saw visitor numbers rise into the millions.

The tourist trade fuelled the building of high rise hotels, bars and restaurants as well as roads and an airport. Large resorts have sprung up all down the Costa del Sol, and Malagaâs position and huge international airport make it the tourist hub of the âcoast of sunâ.

Today Malaga is a cosmopolitan city, boasting Spainâs second largest port and third largest airport, and visitors can see how far it has come from its humble beginnings as a small Phoenician fishing village.