Authentic Roman theatre: a guide to Malaga’s past

Malaga is one of Spain’s most beautiful sun-drenched cities – but its attractions extend far beyond beaches, shops and restaurants. My favourite thing about Malaga is its incredible history, and in my opinion there’s nowhere better to discover this than at the Roman Theatre.

This is the oldest building in the entire city and its structure and scale makes it an absolute must-visit. Conveniently, it’s close to a number of other attractions, like the Alcazaba Fortress, so you can pack quite a lot into your trip here.

El Teatro Romano – its discovery

One of the things I find most remarkable about the Roman Theatre – known in the local tongue as El Teatro Romano – is the fact that despite its size and historical importance, it wasn’t actually discovered until 1951. Stumbled across during the construction of the Casa de Cultura, the theatre had laid buried for centuries.

When it was discovered, the building of the Casa de Cultura ceased and archaeological work began. Earlier work on the Casa de Cultura was then torn up so a full excavation could take place, and the theatre was restored as well as possible.

Founding and the Alcazaba Fortress

Created in the 1st century BC during the empire of Augustus, the theatre was used until the 3rd century. After that, it fell into disrepair – but later it was appropriated for a wholly different purpose.

You see, it was discovered by the Arabs when they settled in Andalusia, and they used it as a resource for stone. Between 756 and 780 AD, they took parts of the theatre – including column shafts and capitals – to use in the construction of the famous Alcazaba Fortress, which the theatre now lies at the foot of.

If you have time to visit the fortress too (something that’s well worth doing), you can pick out these Roman elements today, particularly in the arches over the doorways.

Your visit

It’s free to visit the Roman Theatre, which is of course good news if you’re on a budget. And speaking of money, don’t forget there are more ways to save than simply by visiting free attractions, including staying in self-catered accommodation and getting a good deal on hiring a car at the airport, which you can find out more about through companies like Auto Europe.

Turning our attention back to the theatre, you can learn more about its history and excavation at the visitors centre (where you can also see some of the archaeological discoveries made). The theatre itself is awe-inspiring – at 31 m in radius and 16 m tall, it is visually imposing and it’s incredible to think how long it has stood for, not to mention how many years it lay hidden beneath the earth.

As a quick tip, if you’re planning to visit Malaga during the summer months it’s worth checking out what shows will be on during your stay. You see, the theatre is used to stage open-air concerts during the warm season, and seeing a performance here is a truly incredible experience.

The building seats just over 200 spectators, which, when you think about it, isn’t very many. So, it gives you the unique experience of going to a concert somewhere striking, imposing and hugely historic, while also being a relatively intimate venue.

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