Opening of its first grand dame hotel heralds the Spanish city’s €100M cultural revival
An ancient Andalucían city that gave birth to Pablo Picasso, but is often overlooked as the gateway to the Costa del Sol, Malaga is transforming itself into a flourishing cultural hub. The recent reopening of the Gran Hotel Miramar following a €65 million renovation is the latest chapter in the city’s renaissance as a hotspot of cultural excellence, cementing its place on the wishlists of art lovers and the cognoscenti from across the world.
Once a place to see and be seen for Spanish royalty, European high society and Hollywood stars alike, the iconic five-star Gran Hotel Miramar reopened earlier this year following a painstaking two-year overhaul, putting Malaga firmly back on the global luxury travel map. The assiduous renovation has returned this majestic edifice to its former glory, preserving or revitalising many of its original features, including intricate Moorish carved wood arches, a beautiful first floor gallery, Andalusian tiling, hand-painted frescoes and ornate stucco ceilings.
With a central beachfront location in the cultural hub of La Caleta, the hotel is within easy reach of the many cultural institutions that are popping up around the city including an outpost of France’s famous Centre Pompidou and a Malaga branch of the St Petersburg State Russian Museum.
While its magnificent Moorish fortress walls and Roman theatre have long been symbols of the ancient city’s place in cultural history, Malaga has in recent years welcomed the opening of prominent museums showcasing the works of world-class painters and sculptors, backed by an ambitious EUR100 million plan by the city council to reinvigorate the city’s cultural heritage. Museums such as the famous Picasso Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Centre for Contemporary Art are amongst those not to be missed.
Outside the galleries and museums, another traditional expression of art is represented in the city’s religious buildings. Through the centuries the churches and cathedrals have been richly endowed with paintings, icons, statues and religious objects that are fine examples of Spain’s cultural soul, and incorporate some of the greatest treasures of centuries gone by. Highlights include works by Baroque Spanish painter Francisco Zurbaran, best known for his still life and paintings of clergy members such as nuns and monks to religious carvings by Pedro de Mena who is considered to be the most famous representative of the Granada strand of the Baroque school of sculpture in Spain.
Not to be overlooked is Malaga’s emergence on the fine food scene found in the myriad of dining options around the city, which now rival the gastronomic powerhouses of the Basque country and Catalonia. The city embraces its local Andalucían cuisine with authentic dishes celebrating the area’s mix of Spanish and international gastronomy, such as Gazpacho (a cold tomato, garlic and onion based soup), Boquerones (fried anchovies), and Gachas Malaguenas (a dessert of fried bread served with a sweet syrup. A must on any trip to Malaga is a visit to the city’s grandest and most famous food market, the Atarazanas. Known locally as the ‘Mercado Central’, located in the heart of Malaga’s historic centre, the market is richly steeped in history dating back to the 14th Century and showcases the region’s best seasonal and local produce. By contrast, new gourmet market Mercado de la Mercedopened just two years ago following a major revamp, with around 25 eateries including some of the food scenes hottest newcomers as well as established Malaga names such as Casa de Guardia’s new bar.
Stopping in one of the many bars or markets for a bite to eat and soaking up the eclectic atmosphere is the perfect way to round off a trip around Malaga’s galleries and museums, and an excellent opportunity to sample other facets of the city’s culture. Malaga is much more than simply a gateway to the Costa del Sol. It is a city with a rich history that offers visitors a glimpse into Spain’s past and cultural heritage.
Rooms at Gran Hotel Miramar start from €216 per night including breakfast, excluding tax and service. For further information visit www.granhotelmiramarmalaga.com or call +34 952 603 000.
Gran Hotel Miramar is the first grand luxury hotel ever built in the ancient Andalusian city of Malaga, and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. A historic landmark building in the old city centre which has been painstakingly restored following a two year, 65m Euros overhaul, Gran Hotel Miramar is set to become one of Europe’s foremost grand dames, and firmly establish Malaga on the global luxury travel map. Set amongst beautifully landscaped grounds, this latest addition to Europe’s pantheon of grand dame hotels features 200 rooms and suites; a fabulous ballroom; five restaurants and bars including a rooftop chill out zone; a spa spanning two floors; indoor and outdoor pools; and world-class meetings and events facilities.