Malaga’s 19th Century Architecture

Malaga was the first city in Spain to industrialize in the 19th century and many large fortunes were made at that time. Today one finds about one thousand 19th century buildings in the historic center that were constructed for prominent citizens of that time.

The architecture of the buildings of the 19th century of Malaga was simple, yet elegant. The buildings usually had 4 or 5 stories and their facades were quite symmetrical. On the upper floors there were long windows that stretched to the floor, similar to French windows. Each window had a very small balcony that had a width of between 1 and 1.5 feet, with a length of the window. There would be a waist high wrought iron grill on the balcony to prevent anyone from falling to the street. Many times the wrought iron grills were very elaborate in design and were beautiful. Unfortunately this wrought iron art is disappearing. Many times the windows would have wooden blinds to separate the apartments from the street. During celebrations, such as the Holy Week processions, people would be on these small balconies to watch what was happening on the street.

The houses of the nobles usually had a coat of arms over the main door, usually carved in stone. Some houses had galleries on upper floors. These were small balconies that would jut out of the façade and were made of glass and framed in wood. These would provide warmth in winter.

The facades of many buildings would be decorated with plaster forms in the shape of flowers, vegetation, faces of angels or geometric forms. This would add an element of elegance to the facade.

Some elegant streets with 19th century architecture:

1.     Calle Larios

2.     Calle Echegaray

3.     Plaza de la Constitucion

4.     Plaza del Carbon

5.     Calle Strachan

6.     Calle Bolsa

7.     Calle Granada

8.     Calle Cister

9.  Calle Luis de Velazquez

Many of these buildings are in danger of being demolished because many of them are in disrepair. There is no organization that tries to preserve old buildings in Malaga. When an old building is demolished, the new building that replaces it is usually a building with a minimalist design, which is a trend in Spain. Architects seem to be in love with minimalism. However an American author wrote that minimalism is for those people who have nothing to say. Architects need to design new buildings that are compatible with the buildings in the neighborhood, as a sign of respect for the neighborhood. Nineteenth century buildings definitely have something to say.

Tourists come to Malaga to see these 19th century buildings. They do not come to see minimalist buildings. They can see minimalist buildings in their own countries.