Take a look at Malaga Cathedral and it’s obvious there’s something missing. And that something is huge: a main tower. Since building work on the Cathedral stopped in 1782, the city has debated completing the second tower but never taken the plunge. But a recent move from the Malaga diocese has taken the debate a step further. In this blog post, we look at the pros and cons of another tower on Malaga Cathedral.
Malaga Cathedral’s incomplete design
Not for nothing do locals call the Cathedral ‘la Manquita’ – the one-armed lady – because the largest monument in Malaga has just one tower. The start of the second is there on the south side of the façade but nothing more.
The Cathedral also has a very plain roof because like the second tower, the four turret-type towers designed to go on the top were never added. All in all, Malaga Cathedral is missing about one third of its original design. That’s a lot of stone!
Why has Malaga Cathedral just got 1 tower?
By the mid-18th century, work on Malaga Cathedral was well underway. Funds were in place for its completion but construction came to a halt in 1782 and was never resumed.
Popular legend has it that the Church used the funds for finishing off the Cathedral as a contribution for financing the American War of Independence. According to the urban myth, the money for finishing off the design helped the Spanish and French troops fight against the British.
In reality, the money paid for building roads to Antequera, Granada and Vélez-Málaga from the city. A much more useful purpose for Malaga’s inhabitants, although perhaps a less romantic one!
Did you know? The best way to see for yourself what’s missing from Malaga Cathedral is to take a rooftop tour.
Reasons for adding another tower
Malaga diocese has recently produced a long document detailing why the work on the Cathedral should be finished. The report even goes as far as stating estimated cost – between €5 and 11 million. It also says it would take at least 5 years to finish.
The main reasons for completing Malaga Cathedral include:
Solve water leaks – if you’ve visited Malaga Cathedral when it’s raining hard, you may have seen buckets under the leaks. Repair work on the roof is apparently urgent and the diocese believes that completing the second tower is one way to do so.
To perfect an imperfect creation – on a less practical note, the Church claims that as it stands Malaga Cathedral is imperfect. Without the second main tower and 4 smaller towers, the Cathedral cannot aspire to be a ‘work of perfect creation’.
Better visibility – with 2 high towers rather than just the 1, Malaga Cathedral would be more visible, particularly from the Port. At the moment, the monument is obscured by Finishing the Cathedral to its original design would increase its profile in the city and enhance its value as a tourist attraction.
Did you know? 1 of the best places to get a full view Malaga Cathedral façade is from El Corte Inglés rooftop terrace.
Reasons not to add another tower to Malaga Cathedral
Not everyone agrees that Malaga Cathedral should get its missing tower. The main arguments for not building the second include:
Better use of the money – €11 million is a lot of money by any accounts. Malaga has countless projects where the money might be better spent. In 1782, they decided building roads was better than a tower and 235 years later better use of public money remains a valid argument.
More authentic – the regional historic heritage institute (Instituto andaluz de patrimonio histórico in Spanish), one of the main critics of the Malaga diocese report, argue that not building the second tower means Malaga Cathedral is more authentic. They claim that the Cathedral’s true historical value lies in leaving its design exactly as it is.
To keep a symbol – 1 of the strongest arguments against building a second tower comes from many locals themselves. They argue that La Manquita is a symbol of Malaga and a feature that identifies the city. Give the Cathedral a second tower and they claim it just won’t be the same.
Did you know? You can see the Cathedral tower from several streets in the old quarter – spot it from Plaza de la Constitución.
At Guide to Malaga, we think that Malaga Cathedral is magnificent as it is. We agree that adding another tower would make the monument more visible, but we don’t think it would make it any better.
But most of all, we agree with many locals – there’s something special about a Cathedral that’s unique. After all, not everywhere has a manquita!
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(Photo credits for Malaga Cathedral with 2 towers and plans, Diario Sur)