In the past ten years the city of Malaga has spent €100 million on the development of the arts, with additional spending on tourism infrastructure. With more than 30 museums, the city is rising in prominence as a world class destination for cultural enthusiasts of all sorts. It is only fitting that Malaga, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, should have a lasting artistic legacy, and while its decade long investment in culture may have much to do with the boom in visitor numbers across the same period, there are many other new reasons for excitement.
Gone are the days when Malaga was little more than an entry point to the Costa del Sol; the city is now a cosmopolitan and cultured destination in its own right, and the progress shows little sign of slowing. If the sun and sea, the existing museums and the emerging fine food scene aren’t enough already, here are five new developments in the ascendant city of Malaga.
This highly anticipated “pop-up Pompidou” just opened to the public on 28th March, 2015, located at the city’s flashy port development, Muelle Uno. In what is the first deal of its kind with the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris, the city of Malaga will pay €1m a year for the use of the Pompidou name and the loan of art works over an initially agreed five year period. Among the most famous names on display at the new museum, highlighting 20th and 21st century works, are Frida Kahlo, Max Ernst, Francis Bacon, Rene Magritte and, of course, Malaga’s native son Pablo Picasso. Rotating temporary exhibits, music and dance performances, and a space for workshops aimed at children and adolescents offer further reasons for the expected 250,000 visitors each year to return.
Not only is this museum also the first satellite of the State Russian Museum, it is the only ongoing partnership between a Russian museum and a Spanish city, a partnership slated for an agreed ten year tenure. Planned to coincide with the opening of the Centre Pompidou in Malaga, the museum opened the same week, on 25 March, solidifying the city’s commitment to the arts. The first year will see a permanent collection of 100 Russian masterpieces covering a wide historical span from the 15th century through to the 20th and including such national treasures as Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin. Additionally, the museum will feature two temporary exhibitions each year, the first dedicated to Ballet Russes founder Serghei Diaghilev who visited Malaga himself in 1917. In future years the museum will borrow from the more than 400,000 works housed in the mother museum of St. Petersburg.
The Malaga city council has been very busy with new openings in early 2015. The Caminito del Rey, heralded as “the world’s most dangerous walkway”, also re-opened on 28 March after a €4m renovation. Originally inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1921, the path was closed when numerous hikers fell to their deaths in the 1990s and early 2000s after the walkways hanging perilously from the sheer cliffs of the El Chorro gorge fell into disrepair. Newly restored, the path may no longer be the world’s most dangerous in reality, but is no less spectacular or thrilling. It is still dangerous enough to require advanced booking and controlled, limited access, so if you want to experience this hike for yourself you’ll need to book tickets in advance. Easily accessed from Malaga city, the trek takes about four or five hours to complete.
It’s all fine for a city to invest millions of Euros annually in order to boost its artistic and cultural credentials, but it might all feel a bit hollow in the absence of a real artists’ community. In the neighbourhood of SOHO this is exactly what Malaga sees emerging. It’s not so much of a brand new development as an organically grown renovation of a somewhat derelict area; though situated in a prime location between the city centre and the western port district, it was only after the opening of the contemporary art centre (CAC) and a gradual influx of street artists from across Europe and beyond that the neighbourhood took on new life. Now the area is a virtual outdoor exposition of urban art and massive, stories high murals, newly dotted with bohemian cafes and ethnic restaurants.
The Grand Miramar Hotel
This new opening will in fact not take place until the summer of 2017 if all goes to plan, but is still a striking indication of the revival and renewal of this historic and under appreciated city. Overlooking the Mediterranean and surrounded by lush gardens, the architecturally impressive Hotel Miramar was inaugurated only 90 years ago, hosting Spanish royalty and foreign aristocrats alike. Yet only now, after years of sitting empty and derelict, are the architects and construction workers again focusing on restoring the building to its former glory. A grade 1 protected building, the renovation will be meticulous and is expected to cost about €65m, but the result will surely be Malaga’s premiere luxury hotel. The hotel will feature nearly 200 rooms, a state of the art gymnasium, heated pool and full-service spa, a café restaurant and events facilities for up to 1000 people. Assuming that Malaga’s investments in high level tourism, culture and the arts continues to pay dividends, the Grand Miramar Hotel may quickly have a house full of luxury and culture loving guests.
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.