This blog post was originally posted on April 4, 2016 and was updated on June 22, 2017.
El Perchel is not what you would call a “tourist attraction” in Malaga, but then again, that’s exactly why you should visit.
It's one of the oldest neighborhoods in Malaga and was one of the first areas people lived outside of the hispano-arab walls. In fact, the neighborhood gets its name from the “perchas” (hangers) the fisherman used to dry their fish. It was a marginal neighborhood, a fact which wasn’t helped by the constant smell of fish.
That being said, there's now a sense of pride and authenticity in saying you're from “El Perchel,” or that you are a “Perchelero" (literally, a person who is from El Perchel).
Very little is left of the historic buildings in this quintessential Malaga neighborhood. Many of them have been torn down to make room for new apartment buildings, and the typical patios are all but non-existent. But what does ring true is the unmistakable sense of community and history that you feel when walking down Calle Ancha del Carmen. El Perchel is one of the neighborhoods in Malaga that gives you a feel for just how many centuries people have been living in this city.
What to see in El Perchel
The Church of San Pedro
Construction began on this church in the year 1629 under the supervision of the same architect who worked on the Malaga Cathedral, Pedro Díaz de Palacios. However, the church was left unfinished until 1943.
One of the main processions in Holy Week, the Expiración, belongs to this parish, and the band that follows the procession is one of the best in Malaga. Throughout the year, you can hear their concerts, and if you enjoy band music, this is a great opportunity to experience Malaga in a different way!
Address: Avenida de la Aurora, 8
The Church of El Carmen
Founded in the year 1584, the original, poorly constructed church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1680. It took the better part of the next century to complete the restoration, only for the new building to suffer a fire in 1931. During the Spanish Civil War, this church was used as a storage facility. It was later restored, and is currently one of the most well-known churches in the neighborhood.
Address: Calle de la Plaza de Toros Vieja, 23
Mercado del Carmen
For more than 140 years, this market has been a place for the people of Malaga to buy freshly caught fish brought in that same morning from the port. The old market was closed in 2010, but the new, renovated Mercado del Carmen boasts the same top-quality seafood, as well as a bar where you can sample the catch of the day.
Address: Calle de la Serna, 45
See Also: The complete guide to the best markets in Malaga
Convent of San Andres
Found just next to the Mercado del Carmen, this 16th-century convent has long fallen into a state of disrepair. However there are plans to restore and renovate the fascinating ruins pending an archeological study of the area.
The traditional houses and cobblestone streets
Duck behind modern Calle Cuarteles for a minute, and head one or two blocks over to see the few traditional houses that still stand in El Perchel. This is one of the neighborhoods in Malaga that used to be full of “casas correlones” (buildings with huge patios where people would socialize and hang their laundry.) Today, there are only a few of the old homes still standing, but if you walk down cobblestoned Calle Ancha del Carmen, you get a feeling of what the neighborhood used to be like. Make sure to look up, as some of the balconies are still adorned with plants and tile work.
Noteworthy Celebrations in El Perchel
There are several Holy Week processions that begin and end in the neighborhood of El Perchel, including the Misericordia (popularly known as “El Chiquito”), La Esperanza, La Expiración, Mena, Estrella, Zamarrilla and Dolores del Puente.
These typical apartment buildings with a large shared patio in the middle are opened to the public on special occasions such as Christmas or spring to show off the flowers and the traditional courtyard.
Procession for the Virgin del Carmen
This procession for the Virgin Mary, considered to be the protector of seafarers, begins on land. After visiting the cathedral, there's a portion where the image of the Virgin is taken out in a boat across the water. The official feast day is July 16, but sometimes the date for the procession is changed to the weekend.
Where to eat in El Perchel
This is your classic neighborhood churros and hot chocolate stop. The place only makes tejeringos (churros made in the traditional Malaga style), hot chocolate and coffee. They're very good at what they do, so this is an obligatory stop.
Address: Calle Cuarteles, 54
Read More: More great spots to enjoy churros in Malaga
Bar at the Mercado del Carmen
Selling the freshly caught seafood from the market, this bar has some of the most delicious fried fish in Malaga. Try the shrimp skewers or the "boquerones fritos" (fried anchovies). They're especially delicious when you eat them outside with a view of the old Convent San Andrés.
Address: Calle de la Serna, 14
Pescaítos Nuestra Señora del Gran Poder
Located next to the Church of the Virgin del Carmen, Pescaítos Nuestra Señora del Gran Poder is a great neighborhood bar where you can sit outside and enjoy your food and the atmosphere. Order some plates of fried fish to share, or a classic “campero” (a sandwich famous in Malaga that's something like a round panini). Here, they make a delicious shrimp campero with alioli sauce.
Address: Plaza de la Misericordia, 10
The tapas at this bar change daily, so make sure to ask what’s good. They'll also offer you wine and drink suggestions to go along with your food. Keep an eye out for the huevos de codorniz (quail eggs), molleja (sweetbreads), or the solomillo de cerdo (pork sirloin) with caramelized onions.
Address: Pasaje San Fernando, 3
Keep Exploring: More great ways to get off the beaten path in Malaga