Cathedral de Almeria
by Fiona Flores Watson and Saskia Mier
The Cathedral is a unique example of a cathedral-fortress from the seventeenth century, of Gothic construction and Renaissance façades.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1524, after the earthquake that destroyed the first in 1522, which was located in the Medina, above the Great Mosque. Its main characteristic is that of being a cathedral-fortress, because it was built both for both worship and as a defense against the attacks carried out on the city by the Barbary pirates. It is the country’s only fortified cathedral dating from this century. This characteristic can be seen on its main façade: the use of large buttresses and towers in its corners, massive walls and the decoration concentrated on its main portal, where the coat of arms of Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany, and that of the Bishop stand out.
Look out for the carving of a sun on the eastern wall, the Sol de Portocarrero, not a symbol typically seen on religious buildings, which is now used as the logo for Almeria province. The Renaissance north facade is an elaborate mid-16th century design, also by de Orea.
The cathedral shows many typically defensive features such as ramparts and artillery loopholes - the four circular corner towers, which look like they belong more on a castle, once held cannons, which could hold off Moorish invaders (see also the bell at the Alcazaba).
The magnificent Gothic interior is on a typically grand scale, with ribbed ceiling and soaring arches, featuring Baroque and neo-classical details. There are three naves and three chapels.
The Sacristy and the choir stalls stand out, Renaissance works built by Juan de Orea, and the Neoclassical Trascoro and Cloister, from the end of the eighteenth century. The Cloister, commissioned to J. Antonio Munar, is the best Neoclassical cloister of the Spanish cathedrals.
The Main Altar, remodeled in the eighteenth century, is presided over by the temple or tabernacle, and on its front, as an altarpiece, the paintings with scenes from the life of the Virgin and two ancient reliefs from the sixteenth century stand out in the center. Its most outstanding chapels are in the Girola, behind the High Altar: San Indalecio, El Cristo de la Escucha and the Virgen de la Piedad.
The Capilla de la Piedad has some superb paintings - the Anunciacion by Alonso Cano and Murillo's Concepcion Inmaculada, while dog-lovers will enjoy the Capilla de Santo Cristo where the Bishop Villalan, who founded the cathedral, lies in state in his marble tomb, complete with his hound at his feet. The choir stalls, carved from walnut, and the Sacristia Mayor with its fine stone roof, windows and arches, are particularly impressive. The stalls and bishop's tomb are both by Juan de Orea.
The broad pedestrianised plaza in front of the cathedral is very pleasant, with lofty palm trees and plenty of space to stroll, contemplate the basilica, and for children to run about.
Plaza del Catedral, 04001 Almeria
Saturday, 10:00-14:30hrs and 15:30-19:00hrs
Mass, Monday-Saturday at 20:00hrs
Mass, Sunday at 11:30hrs and 20:00hrs
Adult: 5 euros - includes audio guide.
Junior 13-17yrs: 3 euros
Over 65: 4.50 euros
Under 12: Free
Tel: 950 234 848