By all means, when you visit the Andalucia region of Spain, be one of the three million visitors to the Alhambra, but if you don't also visit the Alcazaba in Malaga, you will be missing a gem.
David and I enjoyed the Alhambra but we didn't appreciate the tedious bus ride, the crowds of people, and the difficult-to-understand guide. So, when our wonderful friends suggested we see the fortress-palace built by the Moors in the 11th century, close by in nearby Malaga and sure to be less crowded in the evening, we were excited.
Although now several blocks inland, this fortress was built when the sea lapped at its feet. The structure snakes up the hill, following its contours; the visitor path climbs ever upward leading us through defensive bulwarks, delightful formal gardens, unexpected fountains and reflecting pools, and through keyhole Moroccan doorways until, at last, we arrive at the palace.
We caught our breath here enjoying the detailed ceilings, the scroll work around the doorways, the display of pottery and ceramics, and the spectacular views of the city.
We realized that while the Alhambra was a bit more showy, the Alcazaba had almost as many fascinating architectural details and history, and, without the throngs of sightseers, our connection to this place felt far more intimate. David and I were glad we'd seen both sites.
Practicalities -The site is open every day but Monday and costs about 2.10 euros per adult with discounts for children and EU senior citizens.
Spain is obviously not a litigious country because the opportunities to break a leg are numerous. Watch where you step at the Alhambra and the Alcazaba as there are holes, uneven paving, slippery rocks, and open gulleys all over the place.