Archaeological dig set to get under way in Malaga's Plaza de la Merced

Work on the land near the Alcazaba in the historic centre.
Work on the land near the Alcazaba in the historic centre. / S. SALAS
  • The former Astoria and Victoria cinemas have been demolished and a study is needed before a new culture and leisure complex can go ahead

The demolition of the derelict Astoria and Victoria cinemas in Malaga's picturesque Plaza de la Merced, where Picasso's birthplace is, is now complete. The large plot of land that has opened up new views of the Moorish Alcazaba to tourists is being prepared for redevelopment but first, as is usual in Malaga with its 3,000 years of history, an archeological dig will have to take place.

Municipal engineers want to find out if a project for the site is viable. A group of business people from Cordoba want to include an underground theatre space, with a depth of up to 10 metres, in their plans for cultural and restaurant use for the site. Several floors above will house bars and restaurants and space for the Fundación Picasso birthplace charity.

Urban Planning councillor at Malaga city hall, Raúl López, said this week that excavations should begin in the next few weeks once the final pieces of debris from the old cinemas is removed from the site. Some underground pipes may also need to be moved as part of the forthcoming archaeological dig.

The work, once started, is due to take six months and go to a depth of five and a half metres. Among the remains expected to be found in the first layer are the ruins of the former Hospital Santa Ana. In a final phase, as the digging goes deeper, experts expect to find Roman and medieval remains. Depending on how important they are, they could influence the plans of the future auditorium project, Málaga All Space.