Exploring Malaga’s rich history

This Andalusian city has much more to offer than its famous beaches. (Shutterstock)
Updated 02 September 2019

Exploring Malaga’s rich history

DUBAI: The coastal city of Malaga in the south of Spain is principally known as an ideal summer destination, a top choice for those wanting to lounge on the beach and bask in the Mediterranean sun. But this Andalusian provincial capital offers more than just the joy of leisure. This is a city steeped in history — both ancient and modern — as evidenced by its warm-hued, charming, and often-colossal architecture, which hides delightful surprises and breathtaking views.

In the city’s historic center, consider starting your day with a visit to the Alcazaba, a limestone, palm tree-lined fortress that was built under Arab rule — which lasted for nearly 700 years — during the 11th century. Derived from the Arabic term ‘Al qasba’ (citadel), this leafy fortress is a gem of Moorish design with its characteristic horseshoe arches, refreshing fountains and airy gardens.  

Al qasba (citadel). (Shutterstock)

A few minutes walk away stands the grand Malaga Cathedral, which took around two centuries to construct, and is apparently still not complete. Building started in the 1500s, and this Renaissance- and Baroque-style monument was actually converted from a mosque into a cathedral under the patronage of Spain’s Catholic monarchs, who conquered the city in 1487. The tall interior — topped with ornate domes and stained-glass windows — is hugely impressive. Before leaving the cathedral, make sure to take a look at the intricately carved figures of saints, apostles, and other founders of religious orders around the choir’s wooden seating.

Malaga Cathedral. (Shutterstock)

Malaga is also home to a mélange of art museums that are scattered around the city. We would recommend the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Housed in the former home of a nobleman, which was built in the 16th century, this small, tranquil cultural institution showcases paintings created predominantly by Spanish masters — from the Romantic to the Fin-de-siècle periods — portraying remarkable imagery of Andalusian nature, architecture, and cultural traditions.

To unwind for a few moments, head to the museum’s patio — located on the second floor — where you will be charmed by the view of terracotta rooftops and church towers, the bells of which chime in the far distance.  

If you are a fan of Pablo Picasso, then you are in for a surprising treat. The radical 20th-century artist was born in Malaga in 1881, although he lived here for just the first decade of his life and eventually settled in France, never to return to his native city. You can visit the apartment in which he was born in at the Casa Natal Museum, situated in the Plaza de la Merced. The apartment was turned into a museum in 1988, and its intimate setting is meant to paint a picture of Picasso’s upbringing and family life. It includes personal mementos such as his delicate baptism robe, monogrammed undershirt, his sister Dolores’ tortoiseshell comb, and a selection of his father José Ruiz-Blasco’s artworks.

Casa Natal Museum is situated in the Plaza de la Merced. (Shutterstock)

Malaga’s officials also honored their most famous son (apologies Antonio Banderas) through the opening of the Picasso Museum. The museum’s collection — donated by Bernard and Christine-Ruiz Picasso (the artist’s grandson and daughter-in-law) —boasts nearly 200 artworks, covering eight decades of Picasso’s highly experimental artistry — his academic painting, Cubism, ceramics, etching, and much more. Through his striking portraits, you will encounter individuals from Picasso’s intimate circle, including his romantic partners, the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, French artist Françoise Gilot, and his most-painted muse — and last wife — Jacqueline Roque.

Malaga is principally known as an ideal summer destination. (Shutterstock)

You can grab a bite to eat at any of the casual food bars on every other corner of the city. Near the shopping district on Calle Marqués de Larios, La Taberna del Pintxo is famous for its varied and delicious open sandwiches — a staple of Basque cuisine. For cold pintxos, help yourself at the bar, which offers fish-stuffed croissants, caviar-topped smoked salmon, creamed Roquefort and walnuts spread generously on small portions of bread. For warm pintxos, servers rotate around tables serving the likes of fried Camembert drizzled with raspberry jam, entrecote sprinkled with sea salt, and baked béchamel-infused mushrooms.

If you’d rather grab your own ingredients, head to the bustling Mercado de Atarazanas, located in a former shipyard that originally dates back to the 14th century, and renowned for its wide array of fresh produce — local vendors provide the best of olives, cheese, fruits, fish and meat.

And after all that food and culture, there should still be time to head to the beach.

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

Updated 19 September 2019

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

  • The Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage”
  • She said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager

QUEBEC CITY: After living and crooning for years in Las Vegas, French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion returned home to Quebec to kick off her first world tour in a decade on Wednesday.
At 51, the Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage,” which will be her 12th in English and is due out on November 15.
The first single “Flying On My Own,” featuring her powerful vocals backed by techno beats, has already hit the airwaves, while three more dropped Wednesday: “Courage,” “Lying Down” and “Imperfections.”
Known for her blockbuster ballads, Dion said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager Rene Angelil.
“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be OK. I’ve got this.”
So, after more than 1,140 concerts for 4.5 million fans over 16 years in Sin City, she bid adieu to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace with a final two-hour show.
“Courage is exactly the way I feel,” she told public broadcaster CBC at the time, talking up the upcoming tour of the same name.
“In the past three years, it has been difficult for me to talk to my children, to raise them, to lose my husband, wondering am I going to sing again... so much has happened, but at the same time I feel that I’m in control of my life.”
Some 60 dates in North American have been confirmed so far, her label said, with two arena shows in Quebec City on Wednesday and Saturday kicking off the tour, which will run through April 2020, and will be her first world tour since 2008-2009.
Her show was almost two hours of mastery, as she performed some of her greatest hits — from “I’m Alive” to “My Heart Will Go On” — as well as new material to an ecstatic crowd of roughly 20,000.
“It was really impossible to miss Celine at home,” Nicolas Delivre, a French university exchange student in Montreal, told AFP.
Donald Berard, from Quebec City, said he had grown up listening to Dion. “We love her like a member of our family.”
“Courage” marks the first album and tour in Dion’s long career without Angelil, who steered her success beginning in 1981 when he mortgaged his house to finance the young teen’s debut album.
The pair began a personal relationship in 1988 when she was only 19 years old, and married in a lavish ceremony in 1994. Angelil died of throat cancer at age 73.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Dion revealed that she longs for the hugs and laughs that come with a relationship, but added, “I’m not ready to date.”
The youngest of a family of 14 children raised in the suburbs of Montreal, Dion has sold 250 million copies of 23 studio albums in English and French, including collaborations with French singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.
Back in Canada, she told the Montreal Gazette that the tour schedule was “a little crazy,” but that she had found time in advance to take in life’s small pleasures.
At a press junket last Friday, Dion told Radio-Canada: “There are good wines that age well, and there are good wines that age badly. I hope to be a good bottle of wine.”
“I’m not a new Celine,” Dion added. “I’m a continuity of myself.”