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.

Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim undergoes 6-hour surgery after Beirut explosion 

Updated 05 August 2020

Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim undergoes 6-hour surgery after Beirut explosion 

DUBAI: Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim revealed on Instagram that she underwent a six-hour surgery after a massive explosion ripped through Beirut on Tuesday, killing over 100 people and injuring thousands. 

“Half my face and my body were covered in blood,” said Njeim, who lives close to the port area where the explosion happened, captioning a video – shot by someone else – of her damaged apartment.

“I thank God first, who saved my life. The explosion was close, and the scenes you see do not do it justice. If you visit the house and see the blood everywhere, you would be surprised as to how we are still alive,” the star, who has two children, wrote captioning the clip that shows shattered glass, cracked walls and broken furniture strewn all over her living room.

According to her post, the star went down 22 floors, barefoot and covered in blood and sought help from a man who was in his car. 

“He dropped me to the nearest hospital, but they refused to admit me because they were packed with wounded people,” she said. “He dropped me to another hospital where they immediately took me in and I underwent a six-hour operation.” 

The 36-year-old actress said her children were not home and are “fine and safe.”

Multiple Lebanese celebrities have also taken to social media to share videos of their destroyed homes. 

Singer Haifa Wehbe shared, on her Instagram Stories, clips of the destruction that ravaged her home. “We are all okay thank God. My house is next to the explosion,” she wrote to her followers before asking them to keep her house helper, who got injured in her head and eyes, in their prayers.

Clips circulated on social media of Lebanese fashion designer Dalida Ayach, who is also the wife of singer Ramy Ayach, in the hospital being treated for her injuries. 

Singer Elissa, who recently released a new album, took to Twitter to share pictures of the aftermath of the explosion. “It affected the metals and the properties this time, but who will bring back the dead? Who will bring back Beirut?” the star wrote.

Singer Ragheb Alama’s house also got destroyed, but luckily, he and his family were on a trip outside the city.

The ateliers of renowned Lebanese designers have also been ruined, including Maison Rabih Kayrouz and Ralph Masri’s flagship stores.

Taking to his Stories, Kayrouz shared videos of the damage caused by the explosion to his atelier. “Our courageous team trying to save… what could be saved!” the designer captioned one clip of one of the atelier workers pulling out clothing from the debris.