Sandwiched between the Montes de Malaga and a wide sweeping Bay, the city enjoys a sub tropical climate that allows cotton, oranges, figs, bananas and sugar cane to flourish in the valleys nearby. Malaga is particularly famed for its raisins [pasas], which originate from the Pedro Ximenez grape variety that are dried in open cement lagars or troughs at the top of the mountains near Antequera. They are used to produce the classical Malaga wine also known to the Victorians as Mountain Wine, which has prompted other styles, some based on the Moscatel variety while, more recently, straightforward red, white and pink table wines have been developed, not least at Ronda.
The Phoenicians established a settlement here around 1100 BC to trade in salt fish [in their language 'malac' means to salt]. The Carthaginians, Romans and Visigoths followed until in 711 AD a Moorish kingdom was established in Malaga, whose Emir persistently refused to submit to the Caliph of Cordoba further north. After its recapture in 1487 more than 40 churches were built, which sadly were destroyed by arson attacks in 1931, following which the city was also badly damaged in the Civil War.
Some believe Malaga never really recovered from these devastations and the emergence of Costa del Sol tourism has held back proper restoration. This is not totally fair since there is the Castillo de Gibralfaro ['faro' is a lighthouse] 170 meters [520 feet] with splendid views over the city and a nearby Parador, the Alcazaba with its beautiful gardens and courtyards, the remains of a Roman Theatre, and the Cathedral with its magnificent carvings; they are all worth visiting. Together with the Paseo del Parque, a shady promenade alongside the harbour, the impressive Plaza de Toros and Museum of Fine Arts including early works of Picasso who was born here, Murillo, Zurbaran and others, it all adds up to a city well worth visiting.