Date of Visit




Malaga Cathedral

Malaga Cathedral grew from the original cathedral which was converted from the Aljama mosque following the conquest of Malaga by Castilian forces in 1487. The cathedral was to be constructed around the mosque with work being carried out from 1528.  Today it contains some beautiful architectural features and artwork in numerous side chapels around the body of the church.


The cathedral in Malaga is dedicated to Our Lady of the Incarnation and came into existence following the conquest of Malaga by Castilian forces in 1487 when the Aljama mosque was converted into a cathedral. The construction of the new cathedral took place in 1528, this included the conversion of the mosque’s minaret into the bell tower. It was planned to construct another tower, but this was never completed due to lack of funds when money allocated for that was diverted to support the American War of Independence, consequently, the cathedral is known as the one-armed lady (La Manquita). Construction work resumed in the 18th Century and the Cathedral as it is today opened for worship in 1768. Today the area that was the Aljama and the original cathedral corresponds to the sacristy, and this has an external doorway leading to the interior.


Entry can be made through the front façade, with its three doors, or through the side doorway, which is used for visitors.  



On entry, visitors are immediately struck by the beauty and the grandeur of the interior with its three colonnaded naves below a domed ceiling 40 metres high. The naves contain side chapels running around the walls and behind the altar, these contain a large number of outstanding paintings and sculptures.  The grand columns consist of a large base with a pillar and half Corinthian columns. 

The ceiling is decorated with elaborate plasterwork and paintings, depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. 


From there a square pillar supports the arch of the vault.  The vaults themselves are decorated with an elliptical pattern with obelisks and palm trees.  Placed on a number of the columns are the Stations of the Cross.


The main chapel has a beautiful altarpiece containing a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus.


To the front of the altar by the two pillars of the main arch are two pulpits. These were made out of red marble between 1674 and 1676.


The choir is in the central nave starting at the transept and is connected to the main altar by the via sacra. The seating was made by three different sculptors between 1633-1638.  Additional decorative works were added between 1658-1660.


On completion of the choir, seven niches at its rear were framed by arches and left, as it was planned to place altars there.   Nothing was done on these until at the beginning of the 19th century the groups of figures were produced. Carved in marble these depict St John the Evangelist, Mary holding the body of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. 


The cathedral has two organs dating from 1778.  The cases are Baroque in style with Rococo ornamentation and Corinthian columns with gilded decoration. Approximately 22 metres in height with over 4000 pipes, they also contain figures and angels. 


Nearly all the stained-glass windows are modern, as they date from 1880.


The Chapel of St Raphael shows a statue of St Raphael in the centre above the altar. The altar was nearly destroyed in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) but was recreated after the war with the aid of photographs.


The Chapel of St Julian is named after the painting hanging on the right wall. Although the chapel contains a number of oil paintings, the most notable item is the painting by Miguel Manrique, the Banquet of the Pharisee dating from 1635. This was brought to the cathedral in the 19th century. 


The Chapel of St Barbara is the oldest in the cathedral and is the only one dating from the original building. The Gothic altarpiece in the chapel was commissioned in 1524. It survived the Spanish Civil War by being concealed behind a wall. The figure of St Barbara made in 1765 shows her in chains in the centre niche, together with the tower in which she was locked in.


The Altarpiece in the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi is not the original one. That was destroyed in the Civil War and was replaced by this one from the Convent of St Clara de Plasencia in 1945. The altar is Baroque in style dating from the 17th century. In the centre is the statue of St Clara, below that is a statue of St Francis of Assisi, which was added later.  The chapel contains two sepulchers of archbishops from the 16th century.


The Chapel of Christ of the Shelter contains the main altar and two situated on the lateral walls. The main altar has a crucifix, while on each side are the figures of Mary Magdalene on the left and St Teresa de Jesus on the right. Above the side altar are paintings dating from the 17th century.  


The Chapel of the Pilar was originally called the Chapel of the Well and dates from the 16th century. Following the damage in the Civil War, a new altarpiece was made and installed in 1946.


The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was created in the 18th century with an altarpiece of gilded wood painted in blue and white.  This was destroyed by fire in 1936, although the painting above, which dates from the 17th century, was saved.  The current altar dates from 1944 and was modeled on the original, although it was not painted or gilded. 


The Chapel of the Lady of the Rosary displays a large valuable painting installed in the cathedral in 1779. The painting is by Alonso Cano and dates from 1665. On either side of the altar are gilded wood cabinets holding statues of St Blas and St Lorenzo. Additional altars are on the wall on each side.


The Lady of the Incarnation Chapel contains the mausoleum of two bishops. The one from the 16th century on the left, and the one from the 18th century on the right. The old altarpiece dating from the 16th century was replaced in the 18th century with the current one.  Created from marble the altarpiece contains three blocks separated by Corinthian columns. On the central blocks are statues of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel.


The St Sebastian chapel was originally a dressing room and not destined as a chapel, but in 1883 an altar was constructed.  The chapel suffered a great deal of damage during the Spanish Civil War but was reconstructed in 1940 with a new neo-baroque altarpiece with large wooden Corinthian columns, which were made to look like marble. 


The Christ of Victories Chapel was until 1889 not a chapel but the dressing room for the canon and an entrance to the Chapter House. Following the Spanish Civil War, many of the dead were buried in the crypt and the chapel became known as the Chapel of the Fallen. In 1945 it was given a new altarpiece with the four evangelists of St Mark and St John on the left and St Matthew and St Luke on the right.  The crucifix dates from the 1630s and is from the Malaga convent and was saved from the burning of the churches in the 1​​​​930s. The half figure of the Dolorosa dates from the 1670s.  


The cathedral has a small museum and a gift shop selling souvenirs.




              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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