The city of Málaga, and especially the old city centre, is a metropolis on a human scale. Most of the city's monuments and other places of interest are at walking distance from the Plaza de la Merced.
In Moorish times, this square used to be a free market outside the city walls. During more recent times, the Convento de la Merced, the Convento de la Paz and the Hospital de Santa Ana were built here. Nowadays it hosts many open-air events, such as the annual Feria in August and the Spanish Film Festival. The obelisk in the centre of the square was erected in honour of general Torrijos and his followers, whose fight against King Ferdinand cost them their lives in 1831.
The house at the left hand corner of the north front was the birth place of the famous painter Pablo Picasso. It now houses the Picasso foundation, a centre of exhibition and research into Picasso and contemporary art. Down the street to the west, next to the market hall, you'll find the Teatro Municipal Miguel de Cervantes, the city's most important theatre.
Málaga's undisputedly most important monuments, which really deserve a visit, are the Cathedral, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. You can park your car in the Alcazaba Parking, at the east side of the square, and explore the city from there.
Just around the corner are the Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano), and the Moorish Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro, from where you'll have a great view of the city, the Bull Ring (Plaza de Toros) and the subtropical Paseo del Parque.
At the west end of the park, you'll find the Cathedral, reputedly the smallest in Spain. From here, you can roam the alleys of the old city, back to the Plaza de la Merced.