Guide to Malaga Cathedral
Malaga Cathedral is one of the biggest attractions in the city and a monument you simply can’t miss. It might only have one completed tower, but you’ll see it practically from every corner in the old quarter. In this guide to Malaga Cathedral, we look at its history, the best things to see while you’re visiting and where to find the best views of it.
Malaga Cathedral features quite a lot in our video – see how many times you can spot it below!
Like most cathedrals in the cities in Andalusia, Malaga Cathedral was built on the site of the main mosque. Today, there’s isn’t much remaining of this Moorish place of worship, reputedly one of the finest in Al-Andalus. Apparently, its 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. However, this took some time. Centuries in fact because although construction started in 1528, it didn’t finish until 1782.
The Cathedral, built with stone from quarries in the Axarquía region to the east of Malaga, started life as a Gothic temple under the design of renowned architect Diego de Siloé. But, the city quickly abandoned this project and didn’t take it 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. This situation that continued until the late 18th century when building work was declared complete.
The mystery of the missing tower
Except the Cathedral had only one tower.
There’s no official reason why the second tower wasn’t finished. The most reliable sources claim the money was used to fund the American war of Independence. Other sources say 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. Notice the intricate carving that adorns the entire stalls. You can visit Pedro de Mena’s house, now home to the Museo Revello de Toro art museum. He lived in the city from 1658 to 1688.
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.
Malaga Cathedral Views
The Cathedral is visible from all over town. Here are our top five 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 first thing at the weekend (see times below)I.
- 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.
Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 2-6pm
€8 Cathedral only, €12 Cathedral and rooftops combo ticket.
Free entrance on Saturday 8.30-9am and Sunday 8.30-9.30am
Before you rush off to visit the Cathedral…
Sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter. All you need to know about what’s on and what’s new in the city in your inbox every other Friday.