Iglesia de Santiago Apostol
by Fiona Flores-Watson
The Iglesia de Santiago Apostol is one of the oldest in Almeria city, and was founded by the Reyes Catolicos (Catholic Kings) in 1494, just five years after they recaptured the city from the Moors.
It was located in an area which had a largely morisco population (Moors who converted to Christianity after the Reconquest) and so its role was to convince further North African Muslim Almerians to change their religion and become Christians.
Built between 1553 and 1559, it is Gothic-Mudejar in style, with one nave and various chapels, with stone pillars and arches, and a vaulted ceiling. Like Almeria Cathedral, it was designed by Juan de Orea under the direction of Bishop Villalan.
Look out for the relief above the door of the side entrance (considered the most important) - Santiago Matamoros (James the Moor-slayer). This shows the saint dressed as a soldier and riding a horse, "conquering" a group of infidels, represents the Christian triumph over the morisco population.
The church was strategically located in the busiest street in the city, near the Almedina district and close to Puerta Purchena, the main entrance to the city in the old walls which were destroyed in the 19th century.