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This Malaga city guide to the sounds of Malaga, Spain was written by guest contributor Rafael Diogo.

When I visit a new city I want to get a feel for it as quickly as possible. Who lives there? What are they like? And most importantly, what does the city sound like? In my experience, one of the best ways to get a really good idea of a city’s character is by visiting the main food markets and listening to the multitude of surrounding sounds. By immersing yourself in the hustle and bustle of the market, you can hear local sounds that can tell you a lot about the culture, and mean that you can quickly feel in touch with a different society throughout a dynamic and vivid soundscape.

Malaga city guide

1. Malaga Central Market

The Mercado Central de Atarazanas is one of the most charming and lively markets I have had the privilege to visit in Spain. The mix of fresh fish stores, fruit vendors and small bodegas make it a place you could easily lose yourself for a full morning. The resulting binaural recording is a dynamic and lively soundscape, in which you can hear people shouting, laughing, and carefully inspecting their potential buys, as well as the sound ​of knives being sharpened by the ​vendors who try their luck singing ​chant-like calls ​to attract customers.

2. Salamanca Market

This tiny market slightly north of the old quarter offers a much more authentic experience as a neighbourhood market. Far less touristy than the now famous Atarazanas, it has 48 little stalls selling fresh produce and seafood. The architecture is splendid with its Arabian influences and it is a beautiful experience for any field recordist due to the distinctive echoes that reflect a unique reverberation throughout the interior of the market. Unique indeed, this market has certainly a more authentic local flavour and is notably free of gastro bars, so the sounds throughout this binaural soundscape are centred on the vendors ​engaging the customers by inviting them in with cheerful greetings.

3. A typical Spanish bodega

Spain is famous for its wines worldwide and it’s always a rewarding experience to visit a local bodega and see what it sounds like. This soundscape captures a ​bustling evening bar where the locals are meeting up after a busy day to enjoy a glass of traditional vermouth in the company of friends. You can hear the lively atmosphere which is a typical here – the sound of guests raising their drinks and clinking of glasses as they drink to good health. The atmosphere is happy as the bartenders sing along to the flamenco classics on vinyl, making it a truly Andalusian experience. You can even hear the sound of the ‘la cuenta’ (the bill) being written with a chalk on the wooden table, a tradition they have maintained from the old days.

4. Palo beach

El Palo Beach, located in a traditional fishing district from which it gets its name, is one of the many beaches that have been regenerated along the coast of Malaga. This beach is covered by dark sand, and is approximately 1 km long and approximately 25 metres wide and generally has a moderate tidal surge. On this binaural recording, we can easily feel the tide and the gentle swell in the early hours of the morning. Due to the early hour, this recording makes El Palo beach seem much more quieter and calmer than it usually is, as the so-called beach bars are still starting to prepare their traditional sardines espetos to be roasted on wood in the sand of the beach. The sound of the sea, the smell of spits, and its characteristic atmosphere make this beach and this neighbourhood a jewel of the Malaga tradition that we should not miss.

5. From Alcazaba to Gibralfaro Mirador

This unique binaural recording captures the diversity of sounds heard on a walk between two famous landmarks in the centre of Malaga, from Nazari wall, which separates us from La Alcazaba de Málaga to the Gibralfaro viewpoint. In the lowest area of ​Monte de Gibralfaro, you will hear the sounds of tourists walking along the Nazro wall, bells chiming at the Cathedral of La Encarnación and the familiar seagulls around the the port of Malaga.

As you walk to the second viewpoint, a few meters above the Monte de Gibralfaro, the voice of a busking artist singing almost Gregorian chants can be heard in the distance. As we get closer to the tunnel the sound of the music reverberates inside the arch creating one of the acoustic highlights of this recording. As we hit the highest viewpoint, we suddenly hear the panoramic sounds of the cityscape at large and the beautiful song of a bird chorus on the background.