1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Malaga (city)

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34381341911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17 — Malaga (city)

MALAGA, the capital of the province of Malaga, an episcopal see, and, next to Barcelona, the most important seaport of Spain, finely situated on the Mediterranean coast, at the southern base of the Axarquia hills and at the eastern extremity of the fertile vega (plain) of Malaga in 36° 43′ N. and 4° 25′ W. Pop. (1900), 130,109. From the clearness of its sky, and the beautiful sweep of its bay, Malaga has sometimes been compared with Naples. The climate is one of the mildest and most equable in Europe, the mean annual temperature being 66.7° Fahr. The principal railway inland gives access through Bobadilla to all parts of Spain, and a branch line along the coast to Vélez-Malaga was opened in 1908. Malaga lies principally on the left bank of a mountain torrent, the Guadalmedina (“river of the city”); the streets near the sea are spacious and comparatively modern, but those in the older part of the town, where the buildings are huddled around the ancient citadel, are narrow, winding and often dilapidated. Well-built suburbs have also spread on all sides into the rich and pleasant country which surrounds Malaga, and several acres of land reclaimed from the sea have been converted into a public park. There are various squares or plazas and public promenades; of the former the most important are the Plaza de Riego (containing the monument to General José Maria Torrijos, who, with forty-eight others, was executed in Malaga on the 11th of December 1831, for promoting an insurrection in favour of the constitution) and the Plaza de la Constitucion; adjoining the quays is the fine Paseo de la Alameda. The city has no public buildings of commanding architectural or historical importance. The cathedral, on the site of an ancient mosque, was begun about 1528; after its construction had been twice interrupted, it was completed to its present state in the 18th century, and is in consequence an obtrusive record of the degeneration of Spanish architecture. The woodwork of the choir, however, is worthy of attention. The church of El Cristo de la Victoria contains some relics of the siege of 1487. There are an English church and an English cemetery, which dates from 1830; up to that year all Protestants who died in Malaga were buried on the foreshore, where their bodies were frequently exposed by the action of wind and sea. Of the old Moorish arsenal only a single horseshoe gateway remains, the rest of the site being chiefly occupied by an iron structure used as a market; the Alcazába, or citadel, has almost disappeared. The castle of Gibralfaro, on a bold eminence to the north-east dates from the 13th century, and is still in fairly good preservation.

During the 19th century so much silt accumulated in the harbour that vessels were obliged to lie in the roads outside, and receive and discharge cargo by means of lighters; but new harbour works were undertaken in 1880, and large ships can now again load or discharge at the quays, which are connected with the main railway system by a branch line. About 2150 ships of 1,750,000 tons enter at Malaga every year. Iron, lead, wine, olive oil, almonds, fresh and dried fruit, palmetto hats and canary seed are exported in large quantities, while the imports include grain, codfish, fuel, chemicals, iron and steel, machinery, manures and staves for casks. Although trade was impeded during the early years of the 20th century by a succession of bad harvests and by the disastrous floods of September 1907, the number of industries carried on in and near Malaga tends steadily to increase. There are large cotton mills, iron foundries, smelting works and engineering works. Pottery, mosaic, artificial stone and tiles are produced chiefly for the home market, though smaller quantities are sent abroad. There is a chromo-lithographic establishment, and the other industries include tanning, distilling and the manufacture of sugar, chocolate, soap, candles, artificial ice, chemical products, white lead and pianos. Foreign capital has played a prominent part in the development of Malaga; a French syndicate owns the gas-works, and the electric lighting of the streets is controlled by British and German companies.

Malaga is the Μάλακα of Strabo (iii. 156) and Ptolemy (ii. 4, 7) and the Malaca foederatorum of Pliny (iii. 3). The place seems to have been of some importance even during the Carthaginian period; under the Romans it became a municipium, and under the Visigoths an episcopal see. In 711 it passed into the possession of the Moors, and soon came to be regarded as one of the most important cities of Andalusia. It was attached to the caliphate of Cordova, but on the fall of the Omayyad dynasty it became for a short time the capital of an independent kingdom; afterwards it was dependent on Granada. In 1487 it was taken and treated with great harshness by Ferdinand and Isabella after a protracted siege. In 1810 it was sacked by the French under General Sebastiani. The citizens of Malaga are noted for their opposition to the Madrid government; they took a prominent part in the movements against Espartero (1843), against Queen Isabella (1868) and in favour of a republic (1873).