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Monday of last week we spent the day in Málaga, forgetting that in Spain Monday is the day when all museums, galleries and other interesting buildings stay closed. The Picasso Museum was amongst them, but the Casa Natal de Picasso, the house where Picasso was born, was open and so we headed over in that direction. Quite apart from the current exhibition in the house, we were delighted by another discovery. In my Rough Guide to Spain the only reference to the Plaza de Merced, is as the street address of the Casa Natal. This was something that did not surprise me when we visited the house some years ago. The plaza is in a less salubrious quarter of Málaga, down at heel with a few dilapidated benches, mainly occupied by equally dilapidated men and women, each armed with a supply of cans or bottles to see them through the day; not a place to hang around for too long!
Or, at least, that is how it used to be. Since our last visit the plaza has had a complete restoration. Trees have been cut back, the space has been opened out, the surrounding buildings have had their crumbling stucco renewed and a bright coat of paint, and there is a cluster of attractive bars and restaurants surrounding the central square - plus a large number of bright, clean concrete benches. Plaza del Merced has become a place to come and spend time.
And that is at it should be because it is also home to a monument to General José María Torrijos and 48 companions who were executed for their rebellion against the totalitarian King Ferdinand VII in 1831; their bodies are buried beneath the monument, and they are considered to be martyrs. If you can read Spanish, you will find more information at http://www.malagahistoria.com/malagahistoria/decimononico.htm. The photo at the head of this post is taken from this site.