At Toma & Coe we love the province in which we’re based – Málaga. Often seen as just the Costa del Sol, there is so much to discover, explore and enjoy beyond the beaches. These are five of our favourite plazas in Málaga.
There’s nothing wrong with a relaxing day on the beach, but step away from the shore and you could find yourself in a corner of Spain packed with history and beauty. We’ve chosen five of the best and most attractive plazas in Málaga province.
Plaza Ochavada, Archidona
In the north of the Málaga province, in the heart of Andalucía is the pretty rural town of Archidona. In the town’s centre is Plaza Ochavada, a unique square for many reasons.
Octagonal in shape, each side has a different architectural influence. The man responsible for the design was a local architect, who had been inspired by the Renaissance in Italy’s Siena. A huge civic undertaking, it employed hundreds of local people in its construction.
The far side of the plaza is built into the hillside which means some of the properties are caves. One of those is what we consider one of the best restaurants in Andalucía – Arxiduna. Completely underground, there are no windows except for the façade which creates a wonderful atmosphere – as does the food!
Fifty kilometres from Málaga city, Archidona and the nearby Antequera are worthy of a day trip.
Plaza de los Naranjos, Marbella
Dating back to 1485, the Plaza de los Naranjos sits in the old town of Marbella. Following the Christian conquest of the city, the plaza was created to be the centre of the town.
Edged by three historic buildings – the Casa Consistorial, the Casa del Corregidor and the Ermita de Santiago – and typical white Andalucian buildings, during quiet hours it is one of the best plazas in Málaga. In its heart is a Renaissance fountain, and the orange trees after which the square is named.
Capturing the essence of the old town, the square has plenty of bars and restaurants. However, they do tend to be a tourist trap where price is concerned, and whilst it is worthy of a visit, eating elsewhere would be advisable.
Plaza de la Merced, Málaga
Originally called Plaza del Mercado and later Plaza de Riego in memory of the liberal General, the square’s current name derives from a church and convent. Built in 1507, the building did not survive the burning of the convents in 1931 and was demolished in 1964.
In the centre is a neo-classical obelisk from 1842 to commemorate the “49 victims, who for their love of patriotic liberty were sacrificed in this city on 11th December 1831”. Surrounded by jacaranda trees, whose blooms make the square even more delightful in the spring and early summer, a statue of an older Picasso sits on a bench in the north corner. Behind the statue is the house where he was born.
Stretching across the back of the square are bars and restaurants where you can enjoy anything from a three-course meal to tapas and watch the world pass by.
The Plaza de la Merced is just one of many reasons to visit Málaga.
Plaza del Socorro, Ronda
This is one of the most important plazas from a political consideration in Andalucía.
Remodelled in 2019, the statue of Hercules was moved from the fountain closer to the stylish old Casino. To one side of the plaza is the church of Socorro of Ronda. Facing it is a variety of bars and restaurants generating a lively atmosphere.
It was here in 1918 that Blas Infante unveiled the flag and emblem of Andalucía whilst standing on the first-floor balcony of the ‘Circulo de Artistas’. The pillars of Hercules is the ancient name given to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. Hercules is seen seizing and taming two lions, each representing the power of animal instinct, above the legend: “ANDALUCÍA POR SÍ, PARA ESPAÑA Y LA HUMANIDAD” (Andalusia by herself, for Spain and for Humankind).
The history of Ronda is inextricably intertwined with that of Andalucia.
Plaza Almijara, Cómpeta
Known as ‘the pearl of the Axarquia’, Cómpeta sits in the mountains to the east of Málaga. The Plaza Almijara sits in it centre with the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion on one corner.
The most symbolic monument in Cómpeta, the church’s 35-metre Neo-Mudejar tower catches the sunlight with its gold decoration. The earthquake of 1884 destroyed the original minaret. Inside the church are frescoes by Vélez-Málaga artist Francisco Hernandez. Along the side of the church is a series of tiles highlighting the history and traditions of the town – known as the Paseo de las Tradiciones.
Bars and restaurants mean this plaza has a buzz all day. The town’s feria week takes place across the town and in past years the foam party held in Almijara has been a highlight.