It’s the one of the newest attractions in Malaga and one of the best places to get a view of the city. We’ve climbed the 200 steps up to the roof of Malaga Cathedral and been rewarded with some amazing architecture close-hand as well as some stunning 360 degree vistas.
Malaga Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the city’s finest monuments and probably the one locals feel most affection for. Known as La Manquita (the one-armed lady) because only one of the two projected towers was built, the Cathedral features as a must-see on any visit to Malaga. Until very recently you could only see inside, but as from May this year you can get up close and personal with the cathedral from above.
Maybe it’s because the guide mentioned them so many times before we set off, but somehow the advertised 200 steps aren’t nearly as strenuous as we expected. Admittedly some of the older and larger members in our group are panting a bit when they get to the top (and high heels are a definite no-no for this visit), but otherwise the climb to the roof is very doable.
On the way up the stone spiral staircase, we catch a glimpse of the interior of the cathedral. This turns out to be a particular highlight because at 9pm on a Friday evening the vast nave is completely deserted and the low lighting gives it a magical feel.
The guide has told us about the roof restoration before we finally emerge into the dusk but I don’t think anyone is prepared for the beauty of it – a vast expanse of terracotta domes that stretch from one end of the cathedral to the other. They glow orange in the fading daylight and the black chimneys on some of them remind us of Gaudi’s magnificent roof in Casa Milà in Barcelona.
Tower that is, tower that may be
Up-close the tower is magnificent and there’s something special about hearing the clock bells chiming the quarters when you’re just underneath it. But more interesting is the restored section between the tower that is and the stump of the tower that may be.
To make sure the new stone matched the old, the restoration team brought the stone from the quarry in Almayate, some 30km to the east of Malaga. Almayate has provided all the stone in the cathedral since the first foundations were laid in the year 700 and the quarry was specially opened for the latest restoration work.
Plenty more restoration work lies on the horizon because the guide tells us that the plan is to complete the Cathedral to its original plans. These are certainly ambitious and involve building smaller towers around the perimeter of the cathedral, adding 3-metre-high sculptures to all the pillars, and building the other main tower. Here, everyone wonders out loud if La Manquita would be the same if it wasn’t one-armed and several people object totally to the idea.
But the real reason for climbing up to the Cathedral roof is to take in the views of Malaga. And we aren’t disappointed. Highlights here are:
Malaga Old Quarter – you get a great perspective of the old quarter’s layout from above. Stand-out landmarks inevitably feature Picasso – the Picasso Museum tower and Plaza de la Merced where he was born, plus a lovely view of Plaza del Obispo almost directly below, several church towers and a smattering of industrial chimneys.
Malaga Port – the Cathedral roof is probably the best place to see the mix of industrial and leisure at the port. The container and cargo cranes plus cement silos dominate the west side while to the left, it’s yachts and power boats plus Malaga’s lighthouse.
Alcazaba Fortress and Gibralfaro Castle – you can see both these Moorish monuments in their full glory from the Cathedral roof. And we’re surprised to see how big the Alcazaba Fortress looks from above.
How to visit Malaga Cathedral Roof
All visits are guided (English spoken) and in groups of up to 50 people. Tickets are available in the Palacio Episcopal (Bishop’s Palace) open Tues-Sun 10am-8pm
Day visits: Tues-Sun 10.30am-2.30pm
Evening visits: Fri 30 mins before sunset
Price: €6 day visit, €10 evening visit
Booking: Advised especially for evening visits. You can book in person or via email email@example.com