10 Málaga Cathedral Facts to Know Before you Visit

Málaga’s rich historical and artistic legacy is encapsulated in its magnificent cathedral and is an essential part of any Málaga itinerary. Towering over the city’s skyline, Málaga cathedral is fascinating, inside and out.

Do you want to know more about why you should visit or how to make the most of your time there? Here are the key Málaga Cathedral facts that you should know before you go.

exterior of malaga cathedral with bell tower and orange tress

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Essential Málaga Cathedral Facts

1. It is built on the site of a former mosque

After kicking out the Germanic tribes in 711 AD, the Moors ruled Málaga for over 700 years. Their tenure came to an end in 1487 with the reconquest of the city by the Christians.

Like many other cathedrals in Spain – Seville cathedral and that in Valencia are good examples – Málaga Cathedral is built on the site of the mosque in the former Arab walled city. Other than the Patio de los Naranjos, a small courtyard of fragrant orange trees, little of the original mosque remains.

2. Málaga Cathedral was designed as an outward display of Castilian power

The Cathedral was intended to be bigger and better than the El Hammas mosque it replaced. There was to be no room left to doubt the power of the Catholic monarchs.

carved wooden door of malaga cathedral opening to sunny patio

3. The Cathedral has a (much) longer official name

The Catholic monarchs dedicated their newly built cathedral to Our Lady Santa Marîa de la Encarnación. The official name of Málaga Cathedral is Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación (or the Incarnation Cathedral).

I think that I’ll just stick with plain old Málaga Cathedral.

4. Málaga Cathedral was built in two phases

The first building phase started in the early 16th Century but work had to be stopped at the beginning of the 17th Century when funds dried up.

The reasons for this are unclear. Some say that these funds were donated to the American Revolutionary War, whereas other sources state that the funds were diverted to the construction of the road connecting Málaga to Vélez-Málaga.

Construction work resumed in the 18th Century and the Cathedral as we see it today opened for worship in 1782.

5. It is also known as the One-Armed Lady

Málaga Cathedral’s second tower, included in the original plans of architect Diego de Siloé, was a direct causality of these diverted funds. Due to the Cathedral’s unfinished state, it is known as La Manquita or “The One-Armed Lady.”

single bell tower of malaga cathedral
The one arm of the lady

6. Málaga Cathedral is a jewel of the Spanish Renaissance

Málaga Cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque-Renaissance architecture in Spain. It is a magnificent cathedral and not only because of its monumentality and height.

The fusion of architectural styles reflects its two phases of building activity. Plus, there’s a little bit of Gothic thrown in for good measure.

Inside the cathedral are three collonaded naves of equal height below a fabulous domed ceiling that soars 40 metres into the air. Coloured shafts of light flood in through its stained glass windows.

interior of cathedral with soaring columns and alcoves

7. It is the second-highest cathedral in Andalusia

The Cathedral’s tower stands 87 metres tall. After La Giralda in Seville, Málaga Cathedral is the highest in the region.

READ THIS NEXT: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Seville Cathedral

8. It is home to magnificent works of art

Your next few Málaga Cathedral facts focus on its artistic merits. The sheer volume of outstanding paintings and sculptures it houses is overwhelming.

The Gothic altarpiece of the Chapel of Santa Barbara, commissioned in 1524, is the sole survivor of the original phase of the 16th Century cathedral. It survived the ravages of the Spanish Civil War concealed behind a wall.

An ornate gilded altarpiece with statues of religious figures is one of the things that malaga cathedral is known for
Chapel of Santa Barbara, Málaga Cathedral

The painting by Alonso Carlo in the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary is one of the Cathedral’s greatest artistic treasures. Just look at the expression on the Virgin’s face.

painting of virgin mary by Alonso Carlo

9. Málaga Cathedral’s choir is one of the 17th Century’s finest sculptures

For many, the artistic highlight of Málaga Cathedral is its wooden choir. The great Baroque sculptor Pedro de Mena carved the wood wafer-thin in places to express the shape of a finger or the fold of a robe.

the famous carved wooden sculptures of religious figures are one of the malaga cathedral facts

It’s an extraordinary piece of workmanship.

The two magnificent 18th Century organs, comprising over 4,000 pipes, are still in good working condition.

10. The views from the roof of Málaga Cathedral are superb

It’s well worth paying a few more euros to visit the Cathedral’s roof.

Accompanied by a member of staff, you climb 200 steps to walk around the perimeter of the roof’s domed landscape. As well as offering a different perspective on the church’s construction, there are panoramic views of Málaga and its surroundings.

a view over the rooftops of malaga to the hills beyond
aerial view of rooftops of malaga spain

For better photos, visit the roof in the morning when the sun is in the east.

Even if you have only one day in Málaga, don’t miss its cathedral.

Tips for Visiting Málaga Cathedral

  • Málaga Cathedral is located at Calle Molina Lario, 9
  • The Cathedral is open daily, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm; Sunday 2 pm to 6 pm.
  • Escorted visits to the roof take 45 minutes and leave daily at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm and 5 pm.
  • In 2022, the general adult admission price was €6. To visit the Cathedral and the roof cost €10. Discounts are available for seniors, young people and students.
  • For further information, visit the Cathedral’s official website.