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Malaga City - History of Malaga Cathedral

History of Malaga Cathedral

by Chris Chaplow

On the 18th August 1487 Malaga was re-conquered by the catholic troops. Initially the Aljama mosque was converted into a cathedral and consecrated under the protection of Santa Maria de la Encarnación. The site of this is more or less where the present day sacristy, museum and gardens are located.

Soon the construction of a new cathedral was proposed on a north south axis. The main facade door was constructed in gothic style about 1510 and this is the sacristy door that today leads into the gardens.

In 1528 the Cabildo proposed a far more elaborate and larger cathedral in the renaissance style. Is  believed the master church builder  was Diego de Siloe. Work started at the rounded east end where the present main chapel is housed. The transept area was reached in about 1570 by master Diego de Vergara and his son completed the transept and main altar.

The new Bishop, Luis Garcia de Haro decided that the works had proceeded far enough and ordered the building of a closing off wall ( in line with the present cathedral museum) and in 1588 he consecrated the new cathedral.

Work during the 17th century was very slow but at the beginning of the 18th century  thing moved faster as cracks started to appear in the walled off construction.

Jose de Bada was appointed master mason and in 1720 he began work on the main facade which faces the plaza del Obispo.

To finance this work a special tax of a 'real de vellon' for each 12 kilo arroba of raisins, oil and wine loaded in Malaga port.   On Bada's death in 1756,  Antonio Ramos covered the central nave, joined the old and the new works and completed the North Tower. The cathedral as we know it today opened in 1786.  

In 1782 the Conde de Floridablanca had stopped financial support as the original amount authorized has been greatly exceeded. The resources passed to public works.  The plaque on the cathedral thanks Malaga for its 1780 donation to help the colonies against Great Britain in lieu of building the south tower.

In spite of this, paving was laid in the new naves, the organs were ordered and railings installed. The Napoleonic invasions stopped further work. The visit of Queen Isabel II to the city was impetus for a completion and whilst plans  are periodically raised and attract local headlines. There has not been any further progress to date.

In the early 20th century the housing that had been built up to the wall was demolished.    

In the civil war much of the patrimony was destroys or removed.  The choir and some chapels were bricked up to protect them.  The cathedral became a refuge for many and one thousand souls are buried in the cript.  Following the war the lost relics were replaced by those of other churches and reproductions.

In 1965 the Oratorio de la Fé was built and joined to the Postigo de las Abades.  In the early 20th century the roads around the cathedral were closed to cars so that pedestrians could better enjoy the location