This guide to Malaga Cathedral gives an overview of one of the biggest attractions in the city. You can’t miss the Cathedral, visible from practically every corner, high and low. Look for a glimpse of the tower as you walk in the streets in the old quarter or stand in Plaza de la Constitución.
Like most cathedrals in the cities in Andalusia, Malaga Cathedral was built on the site of the main mosque. Little remains today of this Moorish place of worship, reputedly one of the finest in Al-Andalus whose orange tree patio once rivalled those in Cordoba and Seville, both still standing today.
When the Catholic Kings Isabel and Ferdinand conquered Malaga in 1487, one of the first things they did was order the demolition of the mosque for construction of a Christian church. This took time, though and again, like most cathedrals, Malaga’s took years to build. Construction started in 1528 and didn’t finish until 1782.
Built with stone from quarries in the Axarquía region to the east of Malaga, the Cathedral started life as a Gothic temple under the design of renowned architect Diego de Siloé. Construction work didn’t get off to a good start – the project was quickly abandoned and not taken up again until 1550 when the Renaissance and Baroque styles took over.
Malaga Cathedral was consecrated in 1588 although the first masses were held in an unfinished building, a situation that continued until the late 18th century when building work was declared complete. Except that the Cathedral had only one tower.
There’s some dispute about why Malaga Cathedral façade has just the one tower. The most reliable sources point to the money for the second tower being used on financing the American war of Independence. Other sources claim it was spent on the road from Malaga to Antequera. Whatever the reason, well over 200 years later, there’s still no second tower and Malaga Cathedral is known as ‘La Manquita’ – the ‘one-armed lady’.
Guide to Malaga Cathedral Highlights
Size – this is a large cathedral with three naves and endless columns. Look out for the extensions to the columns, added to give the interior extra height.
Choirstalls – a stunning work of carpentry designed by Pedro de Mena (the Museo Revello de Toro art museum occupies de Mena’s house while he lived in the city from 1658 to 1688). Notice the intricate carving that adorns the entire stalls.
Iglesia del Sagrario – outside in the Cathedral grounds, this Isabelline chapel is also incomplete, but has a lovely Gothic portal and stunning altarpiece.
Façades – perhaps Malaga Cathedral’s best side is the one facing the Plaza del Obispo. This is a feast of columns and marble crowned by statues of Malaga’s patron saints, St Ciriaco and St Paula. You also get a good idea of the stone façade from Calle Cister as you walk towards the Alcazaba Fortress and Roman Theatre.
Malaga Cathedral Views
The Cathedral is visible from all over town. Here are our top 5 spots for Cathedral gazing:
- From above – visit the Alcazaba Fortress and/or the Gibralfaro Castle for great views of the Cathedral from up above.
- From afar – walk to Muelle Uno and then look back at the city. Malaga Cathedral’s one tower sits perfectly ‘on top of’ the pergola sculpture.
- Glimpses – when you’re in Calle Larios and Plaza de la Constitución, look out for sneak peeks at the tower from side streets and across the rooftops.
- Side view – take the lift up to the top floor of AC Palacio hotel to the roof terrace for exceptional views of Malaga Cathedral sideways on.
- Front view – visit the terrace at the Gourmet Experience at El Corte Inglés department store for a full frontal view of the Cathedral.
Tips for visiting Malaga Cathedral
- Don’t miss the views of the city from Malaga Cathedral rooftops. Read our guide to Malaga Cathedral rooftops.
- Grab a table at one of the bars on the Plaza del Obispo towards the end of the day and watch the main façade of Malaga Cathedral glow golden in the fading light.
- For a free visit, go on Sundays between 2 and 6pm.
- If you’re on holiday in Malaga at Christmas, don’t miss the Cathedral concert – but start queuing early to be sure of a seat.
Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm; Saturday 10am to 5pm; Sunday 2-6pm