Malaga is among Spain’s oldest cities as evident in its 3000 years worth of history. In early 7BC, the Phoenicians founded it and named it Malaca which means to salt. It was their commercial centre. Later on, it was occupied by Carthaginians and Greens and thereafter the Romans finally conquered it.
Malaga remained as a Roman municipality until AD81 when it was renamed to FlaviaMalacita. With this came economic growth mostly contributed by its port which was used to export among other things oil, copper, lead, wine, meat, salted fish and raisins. In fact, the Roman Amphitheatre, as well as the Malaga Port,were all built during this time.
The Visigoths were the one one-half of the Germanic Goths. Visigoths means valiant people. Malaga ferociously resisted their intrusion but they later came back at around 490 AD when Malaga was a half-deserted city. For many years, the Visigoths were part of the Roman Empire and they, therefore, exhibited Roman attributes except for their way of leadership.
The Moorish invasion happened between 714 and 716 AD. It was at this time that the town came under the Caliphate of Cordoba. However, the Muslim dynasties were quite unstable and this saw the city fall under the rulership of Nasrids. Malaga was eventually turned into a port while the city was named Malaqah. Thanks to the economic growth brought about by the textile industry, the Alcazaba fortress was built and the Gibralfaro fortress, which already existed, was rebuilt and extended.
The Re-entry of Christians
Almost a whole century elapsed before the Christians finally gathered the courage to come and reconquer Malaga again. This took place in 1487 and went on until about 1650. During this time, a new port was constructed and trade liberalisation with America catapulted its growth. Slave trade was also rampant at the time. Unfortunately, the city also suffered several plagues over this period including the Bubonic plaque. In 1580, huge floods swept across the city and this happened again in 1921 and 1661.
In the early years of the 17th C, the French invaded Malaga and took control of it. However, in 1812, during the battle of Salamanca, the French were ousted in a revolt led by the Duke of Wellington. The same year, a Constitution was written by a Cortes in Malaga.
When King Ferdinand VII came back from France where he’d gone for exile, he installed a repressive rule. Many didn’t like it and this sparked rebellions in which the like of General Torrijos together with his companions were executed. ( In Plaza de Merced, there’s a monument named after him).
Early into this century, the city also suffered another epidemic: yellow fever outbreak.
19th and 20th Centuries
Industrial revolution began to happen during the 19th C. Malaga was home to an iron and steel factory and a textile factory. Much of the credit goes to Malaga for largely contributing towards the rise of the Spanish industrial revolution. As the 19th Century came to a close, a recession happened and turned things around. Worse, this was followed by plagues, earthquakes, failed harvests, and other natural disasters all of which badly affected the city.
Almost halfway into the 20th C, a Spanish civil war began and Malaga was terribly affected by it. Hundreds of thousands of people were made to abandon the city of Malaga by foot and many of them were killed by pro-Franco forces.
Modern Day Malaga
In 2012, Malaga had a population of about 570,000. It’s currently the sixth largest city in Spain and the second most populated in the whole of Andalusia.
1950s marked the early beginnings of the Modern day Malaga. Tourism also began to pick up during this time and today it’s one of the largest income-generating activity not just in Malaga but in the whole of Costa del Sol.
Buildings, monuments and other pieces of items dating back to the older centuries when the Romans, Phoenicians, French, Moors and other communities dominated Malaga still exist to date and make part of the reasons why Malaga is a top tourist destination.