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Gibralfaro Castle

History of the Gibralfaro Castle

The Castle of Gibralfaro is situated on the mountain with the same name. On top of this mountain there are the remains of a small fortification dating back to Phoenician-Punic times. During the reign of Abderraman III, the Muslims also built a defence on the mountain.

The castle we can see nowadays was mostly built by Yusuf I in 1340 AD in order to improve the defence of Málaga.

The Nasrid Kingdom was isolated on the Peninsula and was surrounded by the Kingdom of Castille, to which it had to pay tribute to keep its lands safe.

Because of this situation, the only way to protect the kingdom from a possible attack was to construct various rings of walls that were reinforced with hundreds of towers.

Málaga was an almost impregnable city, but it had one weak point: Gibralfaro mountain.

At the beginning of the 13th century, when gunpowder was getting more popular in Europe, Muslims understood that if Christians would put their cannons up on the mountain, the city would have been bombarded and conquered by the Christians in days. This is why Yusuf I ordered to build a castle and a ‘coracha’.

The ‘coracha’ is a walled corridor that connected the Alcazaba with the Gibralfaro and allowed soldiers to move safely from one place to another. From the Alcazaba, they could access the city and harbour.

That is why the ‘coracha’ is not just a simple wall, but an ingenious military tool that helped with logistics, troops and food supply, and added an extra layer of defences to the city.

In 1487, a 70.000 soldiers strong Christian army came to Malaga, ready to conquer the city. This was the time when the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle became the protagonists of the city. The walls still carry the scars of that bloody war.

We will proceed to tell you step by step every part of the Castle before going on with the wars it withstood and the conspiracies surrounding it.

“Do you know that the complex of the Alcazaba and the Castle is considered one of the most difficult fortresses to conquer during the Middle Age?”

The lay-out of the Gibralfaro Castle?

The castle has two rings of walls: one main bigger wall and one that is a barbican wall, a smaller wall built in order to avoid the approach of siege machinery.

Moreover, between the walls there was a ditch to complicate the enemy’s assault. 

The crenellated wall had also a parapet and towers. During the visit you can walk the patrol path around the perimeter of the castle.

Parts of the Gibralfaro

The castle has a wide perimeter and it is divided in two parts:

Main courtyard: Higher part and Fortress

This is the first area that you can see when you enter the castle. The sights you can see here are

The mosque

We can only see the ruins that are left of this building. After the Christian Reconquista, the mosque was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Louis and the area around it was used as gunpowder storage.

Today, we cannot find any trace of that. Nowadays, this area is turned into an Interpretation Centre where you can observe the uniforms and weapons of the garrisons that passed through the castle over time.

The Airon well

This 40m deep well was dug into a rock and it is believed that it dates back to Phoenician times. 

The mayor tower

This 17m high tower was a fortified element of the castle. This tower let the garrison access water supply, housing, and warehouses.

Weapons Courtyard: lower part and Castle

In ancient times, this was the place that housed the stables, troop barracks, two bread ovens, and an octagonal cistern. Nowadays, you can still see the white tower, which is the largest preserved tower in Al-Andalus. It was oriented to the northwest and was used to control the only entrance to the castle through the coracha and defend the dead points of the wall.

Inside the tower, you can still see some preserved rooms, and a cistern that was used to collect rainwater.

Do you know that the emblem of Malaga, besides the yoke and the arrows of the Catholic Royals, represents the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle?

Entrance times

The opening time of the Gibralfaro is the same as the Alcazaba.

The castle is open every day.

During summertime the castle is open from 9am until 8pm. In wintertime the opening hours are from 9am until 6pm.

If you want to know more about the opening hours or when it is best to visit it, go to the page Alcazaba Opening time.

How do I walk up to the Gibralfaro Castle?

There are two ways to walk up to the Castle:

The way of the Coracha

This is the most common and touristic road. On this path, you ascend through the old Coracha district, where you will find the Gibralfaro viewpoint.

The Coracha is the wall that connects the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. Nowadays, it’s not accessible, so you cannot take the internal route. We hope one day they will open this spectacular walkway again.

RIght at the side of the Coracha, stood the neigbourhood that was very popular. This neighbourhood was demolished in 1990 in order to create the climb up to the Gibralfaro mountain.

From this path there are two ways to reach the castle:

Option A: from the stairs close to the Municipal Heritage Musuem located in Paseo de Reding

Option B: from the uphill street close to the Alcazaba entrance, Juan Temboury street

Camino de Mundo Nuevo

This way is not as spectacular as the way of the Coracha. This way is mostly used by locals which makes it quieter and a bit wilder. It is also a bit longer.

Here you can see squirrels, flowers, plants, and admire views that are different from the ones the city offers you. 

This way is a paved street without cars and you will notice on the way different paths that are perfect for hikes or to just wander and get lost for a bit.

We have to tell you some of these paths don’t lead you anywhere, but it adds a nice layer of adventure to your trip.

Our Recommendations

To don’t go up and down from the same way. If you have enough time, we recommend you to go up for Mundo Nuevo and go down for the Coracha way; in this way, you will avoid to walk under the sun while you walk up the mountain.  

How much does it cost the entrance to the castle of Gibralfaro?

As for the opening hours, the ticket prices are the same of the Alcazaba of Málaga. 

The price of the general entrance to the castle is: 3,50€

The price for the entrance Alcazaba + Castle is: 5,50€

Our Recommendations

If you want to visit the two monuments, even on separate days, it is cheaper to buy the Alcazaba + Gibralfaro ticket. You have 24 hours to visit the two monuments so you can go to the Alcazaba on one day, and to the Gibralfaro on the other.

Discounts for the Castle of Gibralfaro

There are different kinds of discount: students, schools, retired people and groups. If you want to know more, take a look to Alcazaba ticket price.

Free entrance to the Castle of Gibralfaro

It is possible to visit the Alcazaba and the Castle for free every Sunday at certain times. If you want to discover at what time and when is the best moment to visit it, avoiding lines, click here Alcazaba free entry.

How to go to the Castle of Gibralfaro?

For sure this is the most asked question about the Castle of Gibralfaro of Malaga and for this reason  we are going to clarify some of your doubts related to it:

Is the walk to the castle difficult?

This depends on the physical condition of each person. Without mobility problems, you can finish the hike in 30-35 minutes. The effort required is medium-low and you can admire a piece of Mediterranean nature in the middle of the city.

During the hike, you can admire some of the most beautiful views Malaga can offer. If you are lucky you will see some squirrels, hedgehogs and birds.

In the middle of the walk to the Muslim fortress, you will arrive to the Gibralfaro viewpoint. The typical picture of Malaga with the view of the Muelle 1 (the harbour) and the bullring is taken from this point. Without any doubts, this is the place where you can take one of the best pictures of the city. If it’s possible try to go there at sunset for some added magic.

Our Recommendations

We recommend walking over taking a bus or the car to the castle. If it’s a rainy day, it is better to avoid walking up or down the mountain. If you still want to take your chance, wear non-slip shoes. Most of the way is covered in slate, which gets slippery when wet. Lots of people fall during rainy days, so beware!

During summer, we don’t recommend hiking up to the castle between 1 PM and 6 PM if you don’t want to get a heat stroke. If you still want to take your chances, bring water, sunscreen and a hat.

Our Recommendations

Without any doubts, if you have to choose among walking, bus or car to get to the castle, we recommend you the first one. 

Nevertheless, if it’s a rainy day, is better if you avoid to walking up or down or, if you still want to do it, wear non-slip shoes. Most of the way is made of slate so it is very slippery when it’s wet. A lot of people fall during a rainy day and it can be very dangerous. 

Moreover, we do not recommend you to walk to the castle during summer between 13.00 and 18.00, if you don’t want to end up with a heat stroke. Again, if you want to go during these hours, bring with you water, a hat and sunscreen.  

How long does it take to ascend the Gibralfaro Mountain?

By car: from the city center it takes 10/12 minutes.

By bus: from Malaga Park it takes 15/18 minutes.

Walking it takes 30 minutes

There is a bus to go to Gibralfaro?

Yes, there’s a public bus of the EMT nº35; you can take it at the stop of Alameda Principal or at Parque de Malaga.

The price of the bus is 1,30 € (one way) and you will arrive until the entrance door of the Castle. You have to go down to the last stop on the top of the mountain.

Advantages to go by bus to the Castle of Gibralfaro

First of all, going by bus it’s cheap and you don’t have to wait a lot of time. Moreover, if it’s too hot or rainy the bus is a good option. Reach the Castle will be so much easier.

Disadvantages to go by bus to the Castle of Gibralfaro

You will miss a beautiful path through the mountain and some incredible views of the city, Moreover, the spirit of the adventure is completely lost. 

Sometimes the bus takes a lot of time to arrive and especially during the weekend you can wait for 20/25 minutes plus the other 15 minutes to reach the Castle. 

Our Recommendations

If you don’t have enough time, it’s a hot summer day or you have some physical problems, we recommend you to go up by bus and walk the way down.

Can I go by car to the Castle?

Yes, there are two options to go to the Castle by car: 

Option A: take Calle Victoria, Calle Ferrándiz and later Camino Gibralfaro. We don’t recommend this one since sometimes there could be traffic jam or a school exit. 

Option B: Paseo de Reding, Paseo Salvador Rueda and later Camino Gibralfaro. Even if it could take a little bit of time, this is the best option since it’s more difficult to find traffic jam.

What to visit in the Castle of Gibralfaro?

We will give you some useful tips to visit the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro in order to enjoy your vacation as much as possible!

  1. If it’s possible, visit the Alcazaba one day, and the Gibralfaro the next. This way you can visit them at your own pace, without it feeling rushed.
  2. If you don’t have enough time to visit both monuments, we recommend a visit to the Alcazaba. The fortified palace, elegant gardens, and breathtaking panoramic views cannot be missed. Of course, if you have more than one day, the castle is also a must!
  3. Regarding the walk up the castle, if you are adventurous enough, we recommend you to walk up the Mundo Nuevo and walk down for the Gibralfaro viewpoint. This way, you will make a circular route and see more things!
  4. We suggest our guided tour of the ALcazaba. As with many other monuments, the visit changes completely depending if you visit on your own or with a guide. Our guides can give you the historical background, secret information, and hidden legends that will amplify your visit!
  5. Watch the sunset from the viewpoint of the Gibralfaro.