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A Brief History of Malaga in Andalucia, Spain

The Spanish city of Malaga has had a tumultuous history, changing hands many times over the centuries. Because of this, the city has been touched by a host of different cultures, and they’ve left an imprint that you can see in every inch of the landscape.

The Phoenicians, who were a seafaring people from Canaan, were well known for their alphabet and other important cultural achievements. They established Malaga around 800 BC, although the exact date is not known. The initial settlement was established at the foot of the Guadalhorce River, and it was created primarily as a commercial enterprise to take advantage of rich mineral deposits. The history is a bit foggy on this subject, but it appears that the Phoenicians were using it as an operating seaport by at least 600 BC.

The Carthaginians were attracted to Malaga’s economic potential, and they took it over in 550 BC, but they were only able to hold on for a short time. In 218 BC, the Roman Empire took it away from them, and began to turn Malaga into a serious center for trade. They built up many important features of the city, including an expansion of the port itself and were able to integrate Malaga deeply into their culture. Rome held the city until 623 AD, when the Visigoths finally expelled the last Roman troops after about 100 years of small raids and minor invasions.

The Visigoths lost the city in 711 to the Moors, who were an Islamic Arabic culture. They held the city for a long period of time, and changed the Malaga in many ways. Under Moorish rule, Malaga expanded and became an even bigger commercial center than it was during the Roman era. Many cultures thrived in the city, including Southern Arabs, Jews, and Liberian Christians.

The Moors held the city until the late 1400’s, when Spanish Christian forces were able to oust them with the help of a local resistance movement. Since this time, the Spanish have been in control of the city.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a period of difficulty for Malaga. Diseases, floods and other natural disasters plagued the area, including a terrible earthquake that decimated much of the city’s infrastructure. Recovery was a slow process that took more than 100 years.

Malaga's difficulties continued into the early 20th century, partly due to agricultural troubles, and partly due to the Spanish civil war. Economic problems lingered until the 1960’s brought the advent of major tourism, which is still driving the economy there today.

Modern day Malaga has become a major cultural center, and one of the most interesting vacation spots on the Spanish coast. Its fascinating history is one of the biggest reasons people love to visit.

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