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Above: Inside the Carmen Thyssen Museum in MalagaThe new Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga could be considered a personal masterclass in Spanish art history. George Prior reveals why this museum is putting the Costa del Sol on the cultural mapA decade ago, Malaga, the Costa del Sol's capital city, was a place where art lovers stopped - or whizzed through - on their way to southern Spain's other historical towns and cities.But in recent years, it has reinvented itself, becoming an artistic hub on the national and international stage. The ancient port city, whose skyline is dominated by a fortress built by the Phoenicians and a 16th-century cathedral, now holds its own in Spain's cultural tourism stakes against the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada and Bilbao.Indeed, the opening of several major museums and galleries has done for Malaga what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao: they have turned it into a serious art destination. This transformation has been so successful that art is now a major tourist attraction for the city, which is now actively marketing itself worldwide as a "cultural, artistic and historical experience".One of the most signifi cant steps in Malaga's evolution has been the 2011 launch of the much-anticipated Carmen Thyssen Museum, located in the heart of the historic quarter.The collection, which includespieces by Pablo Picasso, Antoni Tàpies (who sadly died in February) and Joan Miró, is housed in the magnifi cent Palacio de Villalón, a 16th-century town mansion, situated close to the city's main square, Plaza de la Constitución. The fi ve-storey, 5,500 square metre property, complete with a grand, internal Renaissance patio-courtyard, was once the home of the powerful Fernández de Villalón family, a dynasty of 'conquistadores' in the 18th century. More recently, since the 1940s it has been used as apartments, a fabric shop, and offi ces. With many of the original features - such as ornately carved wooden ceilings and period windows and tiles - plastered over in Regional renaissance 42 NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2012 THYSSEN