Of all the Islamic monuments that remain in Spain, we could count with the fingers of just one hand those which can be compared with the Alcazaba of Málaga. And if you think we exaggerate, you will see how you change your mind once you take a look around this impressive medieval fortress that began to rise almost a thousand years ago, apparently, on the remains of former fortifications.
And is not that the eleventh century was a good time for its builders, no. The Umayyad caliphate and its splendour were over, and the al-Andalus period was starting to break up into Taifa Kingdoms, which were isolated groups, that were falling down a long and painful hill.
Here, it was the Berber King of Granada, Badis ben Habús, who thought it was a good idea to reinforce the defences by building a citadel, Alcazaba in Spanish. But although the function of the enclosure was mainly military, its walls also sheltered palaces, patios, gardens and ponds that brought beauty to the place, like so many other Muslim buildings of that time. They wanted to leave it so pretty that they even took, or borrowed, the statues and marbles of the Roman theatre next door.
That first citadel was going to go through thousands of modifications in the following centuries, as it usually happens, but its basic structure and its perimeter have reached us the same as they were.
The Zirids, the Almoravids, the Almohads and the Nasrids dominated the city one after the others, and they all made their own reforms and contributions to this place until the monarchs Isabel and Fernando arrived, back in 1487, with serious intentions to take the city. They sat patiently, prepared to wait for the defenders to surrender.
This way the Christians took Málaga, and the first thing they did was to raise the royal flag and the banner with the cross in the keep of the citadel. The siege was over, but the fortress, which had been very well preserved until then, would still have to endure centuries to come with a couple of bombings and some earthquakes too.
The fortress had to go through all this until it reached our days turned into one of the symbols of the city. This wonder doesn’t deserve less, its beauty almost matches the Alhambra in Granada, and like this Muslim defensive work, there is nothing comparable anywhere else in Spain.