Whichever way you view it, looking down over the sea from a hotel rooftop bar in the old historic centre or gazing up from the recently developed stylish port to amazing ruins (lit by night) and impressive city architecture, Malaga’s Muelle Uno is a wonderful experience.
Sheltered in the sweeping curve of a natural bay, with beaches the locals flock to every weekend in summer, many international visitors are being lured to look more closely at the redeveloped provincial city, now emerged from behind the veil that kept it such a tourist secret.
As with so much of Andalucia, there’s a long history to one of the oldest sea-ports in the Mediterranean. Malaga Port was founded by the Phoenicians in 1000BC, who named it Malaka meaning salt which was used on the dock for preserving fish, and prospered through the exporting of iron, copper and lead as well as olive oil, wine and a pickled relish called Garum.
Under the dictate of the invading Moors, figs and wine were exported through here and Malaka, which became Malaqah, was declared capital of the Islamic Kingdom of Granada. During the Habsburg Empire it was widely known in Europe as one of the continent’s most important manufacturing ports.
Several additions from the 18th century onward were made: the East Dock and New Quay (1720), a lighthouse (1814), the first passenger terminal (1910) and the Malaga Puertollano pipeline carrying oil, built in 1920.
During Spain’s Franco era, which ended in the mid-1970s, Málaga port was run down as the dictator turned economic focus to the manufacturing north of the country; tourism to the Costa del Sol flourished in the 1960s. Since which time, however, Malaga’s port has been rebuilt and passenger carrying cruise liners and super ships regularly disgorge here; a further facelift was achieved with the opening of the strikingly designed Muelle Uno marina in 2011, followed by Muelle Dos.
Muelle Uno is a splendid leisure facility with a waterfront mall selling fashion, sunglasses, shoes, cosmetics, home furnishing and sportswear, and a tempting array of international restaurants that offer Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Japanese and Indian cuisines along with ice-cream parlours and bars.
Boutiques feature High St and designer names on their rails, as well as original lines, and on the second Sunday of each month stalls run the length of the promenade selling handmade crafts, jewellery, organic foods, vintage, local produce and high fashion.
A children’s play area keeps kids entertained with a choice of activities including a soft assault course, and there is also a marine museum along the port walkway. You can hire electric bicycles, but for adults who feel walking the length of Muelle Uno, then back, is a step too far a more adventurous mode of travel is available: Segway. Guided tours by both bike and Segway are available, or you can simply rent either though the latter is likely to produce more laughter and fun.
If arriving in the city by car, there is a 24-hour underground car park at Muelle Uno, and from the marina you can walk into the old city and glamorous Calle Larios, a pedestrianised shopping street, in 10 minutes. Another way to see the port area is to take a harbour boat trip. However you choose to view it, Malaga Port and Muelle Uno will astound you.