What should you see in Melilla? Not to be missed

Melilla has a lot to offer you, a lot to teach you. Intercultural, historical, modernist and coastal. You run the risk of wanting to stay after visiting.
¿Qué deberías ver en Melilla?

Don’t forget that I’m waiting for you – Melilla said.

Don’t expect me to forget you – Said one person after visiting Melilla

Jennifer Aragon

This is what could happen to you too.

It is highly probable that Melilla will surprise you (for the better) and that it may be a place that will burn in your mind.

You may be wondering: What to see in Melilla?

I’ll tell you.

Unfortunately, when one thinks of Melilla, immigration and borders usually come to mind.

Honestly, that is a very poor vision of all that Melilla really is and represents. Well, this Spanish city located in the north of Africa has a lot to offer you.

A lot to whisper in your ear.

A lot to teach you.

With history, beautiful beaches, modernist architecture, a lot of cultural mixture, good food, etc.

But, above all, good people. We Melillenses are very welcoming people, and all we want is that anyone who comes from outside to visit our beautiful city feels at home.

And as I am a Melilla native (very proud of it) and a professional guide of the city, I want to show you here today, in this article, 7 unmissable places of my beloved Melilla.

So you can see how many experiences you can take home with you after your visit.

I will try, through my words, to draw in your mind the wonders of this welcoming city full of contrasts.

Shall we begin?

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Before we start, I’ll put you in context and tell you a little bit of history about Melilla.

Here we go.

Brief history of the city of Melilla

To visit Melilla is to take a trip back in time. A city with many years of history, founded by the Phoenicians under the name of Rusaddir.

Then came the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Muslims, among others. All peoples who have greatly influenced its history.

Until 1497 arrived. Here begins the Spanish era of Melilla. Exactly, on September 17, when the troops of Pedro de Estopiñán, disembark in what today is the old citadel and begin to repair and build a walled city.

They managed to reinforce the walls in a very short time to successfully contain the attacks of the population of the area.

To leave us as a legacy a fortified city with more than 500 years of history. And the best thing is that, today, we can contemplate that original wall in all its splendor.

An imposing fortress that will impress anyone.

Some history before what to see in Melilla.
On the wall of Melilla

You can learn more curiosities about Melilla in this article.

Now that you know a little bit more about Melilla, let’s go with the 7 must-sees you should see on your visit to the city.

What to see in Melilla? Not to be missed

Of course, the city of Melilla has a lot to offer you and you can visit much more than what I propose below. But these are essential places that have to be included in your travel plans to the city of Melilla.

Let’s go with the first must-see.

The Caves of the Conventico

This marvel, is a series of passages that are under Melilla the old and excavated in the rock. Something incredible and really difficult for the time it was.

To give you a different walk underground and take you back in time for a while. For you to feel what our ancestors felt.

These caves were used to store provisions and as a refuge for the population during a siege of the city by the Sultan of Morocco between 1774 and 1775.

On the left of the image, the large entrance door to the Cuevas del Conventico.

So think about this when you’re walking through them.

And the best thing is that they give access to the Cala de Trápana, a spectacular place (I’ll tell you about it in the next point).
The “door” of access to this beautiful cove, is a parabolic arch that props up a cave that is under the citadel itself. A magical place in its entirety.

The beautiful beaches of Melilla

Melilla has more than 3km of beach coastline surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

Some of its beaches, between spectacular cliffs. Others, in front of the city buildings. But all equally beautiful.

Melilla has a coastline and beautiful beaches and excellent weather during most of the year to enjoy them.

I’m going to list 5 of them that I think you shouldn’t miss.

Ensenada de los Galapagos: a beautiful and tiny cove located between the walls of the old city of Melilla, under the moat of Santiago. A curious thing is that it has been recently recovered. How? With a regeneration work with sand that was lost in the storms. The colour of the sand is golden and the water is very calm and clear. Its access is through the moat, in front of the boat square that pays homage to the fishermen. As it is further out, it is one of the quieter (and smaller) beaches. To quietly enjoy a cozy place and the Mediterranean Sea.

2.Cala de Trápana: on the other side of the viewpoint and very close to the beach of the Ensenada de los Galápagos is the beautiful Cala de Trápana. A cove where you can disconnect from the routine, sunbathe and forget about everything for a while. With crystal clear water (with nothing to envy to others), peace, tranquility and a spectacular rocky landscape around. In addition, the imposing lighthouse of Melilla at the top of the cove. It is not easy to access this place. Although this cove can be accessed only by the Cuevas del Conventico (but only to see it, not to swim) or directly to have a good time, you can get there from the sea (canoeing, paddle surfing, boat, etc…).

San Lorenzo Beach: an “urban” beach that is perfect for practicing sports on its sand. As for amenities, it has practically all the services: toilets, lifeguard, umbrellas and sun loungers for rent during the summer, etc.. It is a small beach, with golden sand and very calm waters. As a curiosity, it is located next to the south breakwater of the marina. Also, right in front of the promenade to allow you the luxury of a leisurely stroll watching this beautiful beach.

Beach of the Cárabos: here is the continuation of the beach of the city of Melilla and, like the rest, at the foot of the promenade. As a curiosity, it is named after the “cárabos”, which are (small) Rifian fishing boats. In them, they transported food and objects to sell them later. Another curiosity is that this beach, like the rest, has the blue flag award, an award given annually since 1987 by the European Foundation for Environmental Education to beaches and ports that meet a series of environmental conditions and facilities.

Playa de la Hípica: another urban beach with a length of 580 metres and easy access. A beach with calm waters, which is usually quite full in high season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relax there, quite the contrary. Let’s say that is one of the beaches of “all life” of Melilla, and although it has been renovated, retains the essence of its old huts and changing rooms because, as a curiosity, was a private beach of the military.

The modernist buildings of Melilla

Taking a walk and getting lost in the modernist Ensanche of Melilla to discover its buildings is a real marvel.

Believe it or not, Melilla, after Barcelona, is the second city in Spain with more modernist buildings in the whole country.

Thanks to the influence of Enrique Nieto from Barcelona (collaborator of Gaudí and disciple of Doménech i Montaner) who gave Melilla that daring and peculiar personality that we can contemplate today. It was precisely at the beginning of the 20th century that this man revolutionized the architecture of the city with the introduction of this artistic style. Without forgetting the military engineers who carried out so many architectural works in the city.

In the streets of Melilla you can see hundreds of examples that attract your gaze.

An “urban museum” of elegant facades adorned with floral motifs, curved forms, feminine faces, wrought iron and gazebos.

You can see this “urban museum” in the central area (also called modernist triangle) where there are no more and no less than 500 modernist buildings.

There is a kind of route of modernism, or rather, eclecticism, in Melilla.

I’ll tell you.

Walking through the Ensanche of the city, you find what is known as the Golden Triangle. It is so called because there you will find a large number of modernist buildings.
If you start from Plaza de España and go through the Avenida del Rey Juan Carlos I and the streets of Ejército Español and López Moreno, you will find spectacular and outstanding modernist buildings, such as the following:

  • The House of Crystals
  • The Melul House
  • Tortosa House
  • The Palace of the Assembly
  • The Reconquista building
  • The building of the newspaper El Telegrama del Rif
  • The Aqueduct building
  • The former Chamber of Commerce

 

And that’s not all. The modernist style, fused with other styles, was also incorporated into religious buildings in the city (which are also worth visiting):

  • The Central Mosque
  • The Synagogue of Yamin Benarroch, known as Or Zoruah
  • There are also other styles such as neo-Romanesque, neo-Gothic, neo-Baroque…

 

In this article I tell you more about how many cultures live together in Melilla. Hence, there are buildings of different religions in the same place.

As you can see, the city centre of Melilla has a lot of modernism to offer you. For this reason, I recommend you to walk through its streets to discover all these wonders of Melilla’s architecture.

Believe me when I tell you that this is a must-do activity.

The Central Market of Melilla and the Rastro neighbourhood

Another of the must-see places in the city of Melilla is the Central Market of Melilla and the streets of the Rastro neighbourhood, where there is a tremendous contrast of flavours, smells, clothing, etc.

To lose yourself in its corridors and get to know the true essence of the city. Because in there you know the day to day life of its people. What they eat, how their food and spices smell, what their habits are, what their food tastes like, their conversations with others, and so on.

I don’t know if you know it, but in Melilla there is a great variety because up to 5 different cultures coexist in a city with only 85.000 inhabitants. This is what I tell you in this article.

That’s why you will find shopkeepers from different cultures. Each one with its own customs and ways of doing things. It is the magic of this small city, the interculturality that exists.

Returning to the previous thread, the Central Market of Melilla, is a place to open your five senses, enjoy everything around you and know the reality of the place.

One of the things you can also find out in there, is how much life is worth (approximately) for the average Melillense by looking at the prices, something very interesting from my point of view.

Here you can find fresh fish from the Mediterranean, all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables from the peninsula, spices from Morocco and even lamb.

Gathering in the same place, an incomparable mixture of smells.

An always active market. Always alive, it acts as the commercial heart of the city and beats every day from 8am to 3pm.

I think you’ve already guessed it, but I recommend you to visit and walk around this peculiar market and its Rastro neighbourhood.

Fountain of the Bombillo in the Rastro neighbourhood

The parks of Melilla

The city of Melilla also has parks where you can stroll, enjoy the tranquility, the fun of parents and children, etc..

And of course, enjoy the shade of the trees and palm trees and the peace that nature itself provides.

I am going to recommend 5 parks in Melilla that you can enjoy alone or with your family:

  • Hernandez Park: a beautiful historic garden and the oldest in Melilla, which is located in the heart of the city, where it is worth walking around, get lost, relax, disconnect, read a book, enjoy the sunset and has a variety of plants and exotic vegetation and ancient palm trees. In addition, you will see some statues of eminences such as Lope de Vega, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente or the local Fernando Arrabal.
  • Jardines del Agua: near the mouth of the Rio de Oro River in the Mediterranean, you will find this park. A park composed of a set of water fountains, palm trees and a very curious statue. A charming and relaxing place to stroll and end up arriving, for example, to the nearby beach of San Lorenzo. At night, the water jets of its fountains are combined with lights, a beautiful sight to see.
  • Pinares de Rostrogordo: a protected natural space, full of pine trees, in the mountain, in the upper part of Melilla, where you can have your barbecue. The lung of Melilla, with about 350,000 square meters. It is a Mediterranean style forest that opens to the sea and borders with Morocco, where nature and man’s action coexist harmoniously. Melilla’s favourite place for weekend picnics. It is also an ideal place for hiking or sports.
  • Lobera Park: a park with about 80 years of history. It is about 2 hectares in size and is located in the centre of the city. It is a very beautiful park with vegetation (especially pine trees), sculptures by local artist Rafael Picazo, a pond, a bandstand, stairs, waterfalls (artificial) and pergolas, bridges and terraces at different heights.
  • Parque Forestal Rey Juan Carlos I: it is the largest park in the city, on the outskirts and rather close to the airport of Melilla. A place where you can enjoy and be in contact with nature, find peace and quiet or even practice sports. Lakes, walking paths, and trees that shelter you from the Melilla sun. It can even be the ideal place for a picnic.

Key points

I’ve already shown you several must-see places in Melilla and now I’m going to focus on showing you several urban places that you shouldn’t miss during your visit to my beautiful city.

Start at Plaza España:

Plaza de España

It’s a must to visit the Plaza de España, the most important square in the city at the moment and the nerve centre of the city.

The peculiarity of this square is that it is located right between the old town and the new urban center of Melilla and that it is the vertex of the modernist Golden Triangle.

A beautiful space to contemplate part of the modernism of the city and is the place where you will also find the letters of MELILLA.
There is also the Palace of the Assembly and the front of the Hernández Park. Palm trees, gardens and a fountain inside (a tribute to the soldiers who fought in the Rif War), in the center of the square.

From Plaza España you will see the two main streets of the city centre of the metropolis: Avenida Juan Carlos I and Avenida del Ejército Español. Where you will find the most important shops in Melilla. The epicenter and arteries of the city.

Another square near (or rather next to) Plaza España that you can visit is the Plaza de las Cuatro Culturas. There you will see a monument in homage to the four most important cultures of Melilla, besides being able to contemplate the wall from the outside. Also a place where you can sit quietly and have a drink or a snack.

Less than 10 minutes walk from Plaza España, you can also get to the Noray Marina, to take pictures from there during the day and have drinks at night if you feel like it.

Also, right next to the marina, you have the promenade of Melilla, which will take you to see several beaches mentioned above.

The wall of Melilla

The wall of Melilla is a visual spectacle as a whole. But I think there are several key points of it, which your eyes can’t miss and they are as follows:

  • The lighthouse of Melilla, defensive cannons and the Lighthouse promenade
  • The towers of the wall (San Fernando, de Florentina, de los Bolaños, de las Cabras, etc.)
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Avanzadilla Square
  • Torre de la Vela
  • Santiago Gate (access to the first fortified enclosure of Melilla la Vieja).
  • Gothic Chapel of St. James (the only Gothic apse in all Africa)
  • Los Aljibes
  • Bastion of the Five Words and Bastion of the High Conception

Here below, I leave you the map with the key points of the wall of Melilla:

Curious museums that I recommend you to visit

Since Melilla is a city with a lot of history, we could not miss places or buildings where to preserve the history of the city through images, crafts, art, utensils, weapons, etc..

They are the Museums. Which, by the way, are free.

I present 5 time machines in the form of a museum that will transport you to a more ancient Melilla and all of them located inside the Melilla fortress (except one):

Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnology of Melilla

A fortified city like Melilla needed good warehouses where to keep the products and materials for its supply. That is why the warehouses of Las Peñuelas were built in 1781.

These buildings with a lot of history were in decay until 2007 when the restoration of the building began, recovering the original roof and adapting the interior to the new use as a Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnology of Melilla.

Not bad: history told inside a historic building.

Inside this very interesting Museum you will find the following sections (this could be done horizontally in some way, with an image or in sections of 4):

  • Prehistory and Neolithic
  • Phoenician and Punic Melilla
  • Mauros and Romans
  • Islamic Malila
  • Spanish Melilla XVI – XIX Century
  • Contemporary Melilla
  • Sephardic Culture
  • Amazigh Culture
  • Gypsy Culture

Melilla la Vieja Interpretation Centre

The Interpretation Centre is located in the Torreón de las Cabras. It is an exhibition space created to interpret and understand the construction and evolution of the fortified enclosures of Melilla.

You will see that the CIMLAV centre has two levels (upper and lower), as it houses the access lift to the old Melilla, thus avoiding the steep slopes.

As for the content of the Interpretation Centre, it is a magnificent space, very well kept, which explains the genesis of the fortress of the city.

You will find, in the center of the room and with a lot of presence, a wall that appeared among the remains of the embankment. A wall that you will see emerging from its foundation through the floor slab. Around it, you will be able to contemplate, through a display of images, the history of the walls of Melilla.

We could say that it is a very impressive space, like a kind of living museum of the art of the fortress of Melilla.

Military Historical Museum of Melilla

This museum is located on the bastion of La Concepción, the highest point of Melilla la Vieja, just above the rock formation of the Ensenada de los Galápagos. This means that here you can have spectacular views from the heights.

The space has three terraces to contemplate the best views of Melilla and its surroundings.

With very curious and well preserved historical pieces (armament, uniforms, etc).

The highlight is the model of the replica of the Plaza de Melilla, as it was in 1846. Here you will see the configuration of the square with its four enclosures and with accurate details (buildings, batteries, forts, etc).

Other pieces that might catch your eye are Queen Elizabeth II’s saddle and the German enigma cipher machine used for communications between the General Staff and the Spanish Blue Division.

Curious and at the same time very interesting.

Ibáñez Museum: Modern and Contemporary Spanish Art

This peculiar museum is located inside the Torre de la Vela in the heart of Melilla la Vieja. A beautiful building is the Torre de la Vela or Torre del Reloj.

The Ibáñez Museum will try to take you on a two hundred year journey through modern and contemporary Spanish Art in six rooms.

Throughout the length and breadth of the rooms, you will see exhibited part of the personal collection of García Ibáñez himself (to whose name the Museum is named) and a careful selection belonging to the artistic heritage of Melilla.

But not only that. You will also get to know the works of the main masters of Spanish Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Engraving and Photography.

Each of the six rooms has a theme or a headline and they are as follows:

  1. Goya and the 19th century
  2. Modernism, Noventayochism and early Vanguards
  3. Melilla Modernist Sculpture
  4. Avant-garde and abstraction
  5. Realism and Documentary
  6. Contemporary Melilla Painting

For you to enjoy the sense of sight and make your imagination fly to another time, other thoughts, other points of view.

Egyptian Museum of Melilla

Egypt in Melilla? Yes, it is. Surprising, isn’t it?

It turns out that the tiny city of Melilla has no more and no less than the 2nd most important Egyptian Museum in Spain, after the one in Barcelona.

With more than 250 original pieces from thousands of years old from the Egyptian world of yesteryear.

>>By the way, it is the only museum of those I have named that is located outside the fortress of Melilla la Vieja.<<

On the walls, you’ll find more than seventy information panels that talk about absolutely everything you need to know about what you’ll see and the ancient Egyptian world in general (even names of pharaohs in hieroglyphics).

This museum, spectacular, spotless and with an incredible presentation, has 3 floors:

GROUND FLOOR

In the Plant you will see general ideas of what Ancient Egypt was like.

FIRST FLOOR

On the first floor you will find sections dedicated to cuneiform, hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic writing (including a papyrus with demotic writing) and several envelopes and tablets with inscriptions in cuneiform writing, made in terracotta.

SECOND FLOOR

Here, on this floor, you will find such curious pieces as sarcophagus lids, funerary objects, jewellery, models, gods, weapons, animal mummies and much more. You can also find perhaps the most important piece: the grave goods of Querta.

While you’re in Melilla, why not teleport yourself for an hour and a half to the ancient and incredible Egyptian world?

Now you know much more about Melilla

Congratulations for having arrived here and thank you for wanting to know more about my beautiful city: Melilla.

I hope this article has been useful to you and above all that you have found what you were looking for.

And as a gift, for reaching the end, I give you a small general summary of the must-see in Melilla, to make it more visual for you:

  • The Caves of the Conventico
  • The beautiful beaches of Melilla
  • The Modernist buildings of the Eixample
  • The Central Market of Melilla and the surroundings of the flea market.
  • The city’s beautiful parks and gardens
  • Plaza España
  • Key points of the fortified city of Melilla la Vieja
  • The curious and interesting Museums of Melilla

In general terms, these are the must-see places in the city of Melilla. I hope you enjoy your visit.

By the way, if you don’t know how to get to Melilla or how to get around once in the city, I tell you everything in detail in this article.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, my name is Jennifer (from Melilla), I’ve been an official guide of Melilla for several years and I love my job.

If you want to discover the city in more depth and have a great time (they say I’m very nice), I offer you two options: the first one is to visit my services page and the second one is to contact me directly by email right here below.

Otherwise, I encourage you to write in the comments what you thought of this content or ask me any questions you have about my services as a guide.

See you in Melilla!

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