I took the bus into Málaga at the end of the morning to visit the church and use the fast broadband to upload photos of last Thursday's fiesta, and rummage through some online files to retrieve old information to work on. The cenetery fates were locked and the gatehouse closed, as the place is not open to visitors on Mondays, but I had the chaplain's keys and could let myself into the cemetery and the church, to work undisturbed by tourists.
Jobs done, I set out to go to a part of the Old Town where I hadn't been before, following the valley road down below the ridge on which the Gibralfaro fortress sits, above the Alcazaba Palace. I bought myself picnic lunch of turkey rolls and sat to eat them in a park opposite a small church, which later I visited.
This church is the first station in the Way of the Cross Via Calvario, as it's called here. There's a Cofradia de Monte Calvario that takes care of Via Crucis ceremonies, and this is one of its places. Next to the church, a devotional souvenir shop and next to that, a bar/restaurant. The church was open, and loud processional music was being played within. In front of the altar a large image of Our Lady of Sorrows, visited by devout passers by popping to pray. In a niche on the south wall, close by stood Jesús Cautivo, though not getting the same attention as his mother, I noticed. There was a crucifix too, somewhat smaller, tucked in behind, at the side of the high altar. The altar was illuminated by two dozen pairs of candles in tall candlesticks. All part of the festivities for Mary's birthday last week perhaps?
I thought I'd follow the way of the cross but couldn't find stations Two and three in the next street. I came instead to the Sanctuario Real de Neustra Señora de la Victoria, a huge magnificent church set in the lower reaches of the hillside with a open plaza climbing up to the entrance, perfect for spectacular liturgical theatre events. Behind the church, and actually joined to it, a large modern hospital complex. The church's ministry of healing expressed today in glass and concrete.
Further up the hill behind the hospital, I found station four of the Via Crucis, the Camino de Monte Calvario, and followed the path to the summit along the side of a valley filled with fragrant pine and eucalyptus trees. At the top, magnificent views over the city, a fine large 17th century Calvary chapel and behind it a large modern building without signage. It may be a day centre, a retreat house, an old people's home. Hard to tell. Our tourist signs still in place declare that there is or once was a Capuchin Sisters convent up here. But what now?
I came down the hill and found a network of small back streets in among apartment blacks, possibly quite old from the irregular street plan. Some of the houses looked run down. Some were being renovated and facades given a lick of paint. Remarkable was the amount of high quality street art on most workable surfaces. Not the ubiquitous comic strip pop art style graffiti, but portraits of heads and faces, with lovely gazing eyes. Some creative people are taking a lively interest in this barrio. I wonder if it attracts tourists?
I emerged from this zone of old streets close to one of Málaga's recommended tourist venues, the stylish modern Mercado Merced and the Teatro Cervantes adjacent to it, a national institution. It's Málaga's version of London Covent Garden. Half the market is given over to the usual range of fresh foods. The other half comprises an open plan area of small bar/restaurant outlets selling speciality gourmet foods and drinks to eat or take away. Madrid has one, so Owain tells me, and I've visited another in Cordoba.
La Merced is I believe the colloquial name for the barrio dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes - definitely not a sponsorship deal with a German car giant - the English is Our Lady of Mercies. There's a barrio in Ronda with a similar dedication as I recall.
From here it was just a fifteen minute walk through shopping streets with many restaurants spilling on to street, and along Calle Molina Larios to reach the ferris wheel and a bus back to Rincon. Calle Molina Larios has shed its summer sun canopy since I was here ten days ago I noticed.
Such an interesting variety of places to see in just a few hours of an afternoon walk about town.