Topping the skyline of the city, the castle on Mount Gibralfaro is one of the things to see in Malaga you cannot miss. Built in the XIIIth century, it has always kept an eye on our city since then. You can get from here the most spectacular views of the city, but nonetheless it has very interesting stories between its impressive walls.
Its name is the mixing of two words: Gibral, Arab name for Mount (the same as Gibraltar), and Faro, which comes from the Greek word Pharus (Lighthouse), that was supposed to be sited here at Phoenician times.
The castle was firstly built by Muslims, settled in Malaga from the VIIIth century A.C. It became a necessity as at the time of its building (around the year 1340), gunpowder had arrived in Europe and this point came to be the weaker place in a future war against Christians. The beautiful Alcazaba, a palace-fortress, was already built, was down the hill, and could easily be attacked from here.
Christians were getting closer, and Spanish territories ruled by Muslims were diminishing. This was a long process that started at the Xth century and lasted until the conquest of Malaga by the Catholic Kings in 1487. Muslims had to be ready for the arrival of Christian troops, so not only they built the castle on top of Gibralfaro´s Mount. They connected it with the Alcazaba in an original way; a double wall with a big space between them, called the “Coracha”, that run down the hill in a serpent-like way.
Fight wasn’t easy. The battle at Malaga was the hardest one held by the Christian troops in their conquest. This battle and the importance the castle of Gibralfaro had in it is well explained in the TV Series “Battle Castle by Dan Snow“. Here is a video about the war technology at that time.
After the Christian conquest, the castle of Gibralfaro came to be very important for the defence of Malaga. It was very likely that Malaga was being attacked by Muslims by the sea. So this is why it happened to keep its military use until the XIXth century, when this view was taken from.
In fact, it helped to defend the city, but not from the Muslims, but from Napoleon troops. In the end, Malaga was invaded by French troops and their military corps stayed at the castle until they left Malaga in 1814.
If you wander inside the castle you will realise that there are not too many buildings kept inside. This was because of the great farewell French troops gave to Malaga. They exploded all the gunpowder stored in one big warehouse inside the castle, in case that people from Malaga wanted to chase them in their escape.
This is the way the castle would have look like originally. It had several dwellings for the troops, a well for water supply, the major’s house and a mosque. Even though you can’t find most of them nowadays, it is still very nice to stroll through the inner castle, as well as walking along the top of the defensive walls, having a 360º view of Malaga and its surroundings.
If you want to know more about this and other interesting stories, why not joining our “Le Grand Tour“? You can find more info about it here.