GIBRALFARO

Malaga
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Malaga’s Gibralfaro fortress was built atop a seaside mountain by the Moors in the 10th century to house troops and protect the lower Alcazaba (citadel). It’s made up of 2 consecutive walls and 8 towers. In its prime, the Gibralfaro was considered the most impenetrable fortress on the Iberian Peninsula. Today, there isn’t much to see within the walls, but it’s possible to walk along the ramparts and towers while taking in some of the best views of Malaga. On clear days, it’s even possible to see across to the Rif Mountains in Morocco.

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OPENING TIMES

April to October: 9 am to 8 pm
November to March: 9 am to 6 pm
* Closed: January 1; December 24, 25 & 31

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PRICE

General admission: 3.5€
Children (< 16), students & seniors: 1.5€
Joint ticket Alcazaba & Gibralfaro: 5.5€
* Free access: Sundays after 2 pm

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ADDRESS

Camino Gibralfaro 11, 29016 Málaga

VIEW MAP

History of Malaga's Gibralfaro Castle

Walking the perimeter of the Gibralfaro's defensive wall, Malaga – Spain
Walking the perimeter of the Gibralfaro's defensive wall

The Gibralfaro mountain has held a strategic role going all the way back to the Phoenicians and Romans. But it wasn’t until the 10th century when Abd al-Rahman III transformed the ancient ruins into a fortress. A lighthouse was also built at the top of the mountain and is where the name Gibralfaro derives from. In arabic it was called “jabal-faruk” which means “lighthouse mountain.”

In 1340, the Nasrid king Yusuf I expanded the fortress and converted it into a full blown castle. The Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba, located just below, were connected by a bridge known as the “coracha”. If they were attacked the royal family could flee from their residence in the Alcazaba and up to the safety of the Gibralfaro. In this sense, the Gibralfaro functioned as a castle within a castle, having twice the protection.

Views of the city of Malaga from the Gibralfaro, Andalusia – Spain
Views of the city of Malaga from the Gibralfaro

In 1487, Christian forces besieged Malaga and were able to eventually overcome the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. But it didn’t come easy. The battle lasted for the entire summer.

After the victory, King Ferdinand made the castle his temporary residence and included it in the city’s coat of arms.

Today, there is not much inside the Gibralfaro due to severe damage suffered during the Peninsular War (1807–1814). In 1812, as the last French troops fled the city, they blew up most of the castle. Afterwards, the Gibralfaro continued to slowly decay until restoration began in the 1990’s.

Malaga's townhall seen from the path to the Gibralfaro, Spain
Malaga's townhall seen from the path to the Gibralfaro

What to See in the Gibralfaro

Wall of the Gibralfaro surrounded by gardens, Andalusia – Spain
Wall of the Gibralfaro surrounded by gardens

Due to the Gibralfaro’s history, there is not much to see inside the fortress itself. The Gibralfaro is basically a giant viewpoint. Simply put – you visit it for the views. You can walk the full perimeter of the wall and take in the views of Malaga, the mountains and the sea. It’s worth the visit for the views but don’t expect much more.

Right next to the entrance stands a small museum called “Centro de Interpretación” in Spanish. It occupies what used to be the explosives warehouse (“polvorín” in Spanish). The museum has general information about Malaga’s history plus a collection of historic weapons and military uniforms.

Bullring seen from the path to the Gibralfaro castle, Andalusia – Spain
Bullring seen from the path to the Gibralfaro castle

Passed the museum is the Gibralfaro’s main courtyard (“patio principal” in Spanish). The 17 m high Torre Mayor (Main Tower) is located here, standing at the highest point of the site. Also in the main courtyard is a 40 m deep Phoenician well excavated in the stone.

Next to the museum there is also a small cafe in case you get thirsty or just need a break.

How to Get to the Gibralfaro

Views of Malaga's old town & its cathedral from the Gibralfaro, Spain
Views of the old town & cathedral from the Gibralfaro

WALK

The walk up to the Gibralfaro takes about 20 minutes from the Alcazaba’s main entrance. It is a beautiful walk with some awesome views on the way. If you have the time and the energy, it can be a great little hike. Just avoid doing it in the middle of a hot sunny day and make sure you take water with you.

CITY BUS

The city bus line 35 connects the city center with the Gibralfaro castle. There is approximately one bus every 50 minutes. For more info check the EMT bus website.

Visitors walking along the Gibralfaro's wall – Malaga, Spain
Visitors walking along the Gibralfaro's wall

HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS

If you already plan on using the hop-on-hop-off bus in Malaga then it’s good to know that the Gibralfaro is one of the stops on the route. There is onboard multilingual audio commentary so you can learn about Malaga on the move. You can choose between 24 and 48-hour tickets.

SEGWAY TOUR

If hiking up the hill sounds like it might be too much work for you but you still want to take in the sights at a slower pace, then a segway tour might be perfect. The comprehensive 2-hour tour includes many of Malaga’s top things to see such as the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro.

CAR

If you have a car, you can easily just drive up the mountain. There is a parking area right next to the entrance. See the parking on the map.

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