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Gibralfaro Castle in Málaga, Spain

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

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Last week I wrote about the Alcazaba Castle in Málaga, Spain. As I mentioned, it’s only one of two castles protecting the Mediterranean harbor. Up the hill from the Alcazaba, on top of the Gibralfaro Mountain, is Gibralfaro Castle.

The summit was originally home to a Phoenician lighthouse, hence the name in both Arabic and Greek, gebel-faro meaning “rock of the lighthouse”.

In 929 AD, Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Cordoba, built the first castle here. It was later expanded in the 14th century by Yusef I, Sultan of Granada. He also connected this fort to the Alcazaba by adding a double wall down the slope to make one continuous fortification. You have to buy a ticket for each, though. Poor old Yusuf is spinning in his grave.

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The interior courtyard. Note the sentry box, which is identical
to ones I’ve seen in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands as
well as in Morocco. Click the links below to see those.

The castle remained in Muslim hands until 1487, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella attacked Málaga as part of the final phase of the Reconquista. It took three months to starve the defenders into submission.

After that, the fortifications were renovated and improved several times, and now it looks a bit like some of the Spanish colonial forts I have seen in places like Lanzarote and Morocco. Compared to the bulk of the mountain, the long, sinuous circle of walls looks rather small until you’re actually standing atop them. It has a commanding view of the harbor and city (you can see right into the bullring) and its cannons would have been able to hit any spot in the area.

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A small museum housed in the former arsenal and magazine explains the history or the fort and the daily life of its garrison, as well as showing off an interesting collection of uniforms and model soldiers. The soldiers were all 15mm scale and behind glass so I couldn’t get any decent images of those, sorry. There’s a model solider museum in Valencia I hope to get to sometime, though. I’ll blog about it when I do.

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Halberdier, 16th century, with Italian-style morion helmet

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Arquebusier, 17th century. The twelve preloaded charges on his
bandolier belt were popularly called “The Twelve Apostles.”

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Uniform of the Regimiento Fixo de Málaga, formed by the
Marqués de Vado, 1793. Keeping this clean must have been
every soldier’s headache.

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An officer of the 19th century

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Infantryman of the early 20th century armed with a Spanish-made
Mauser, model 1893 and a Model 1913 bayonet. Such Napoleonic-style
uniforms were still common before the First World War.

 

All photos copyright Sean McLachlan.


Sean McLachlan is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and several other titles. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page. His latest book, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, is a neo-pulp detective novel set in Cairo in 1919.

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