12 June 2019

One of the oldest, and
one of the newest
churches in Málaga

The Church Sacred Heart is in a small corner near the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Málaga (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

As I moved between Málaga and Córdoba last week, I visited two churches in Málaga – one that is one of the newest churches in the city, and one that is among the oldest churches in Málaga.

The Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón or Church Sacred Heart is tucked into a small corner of San Ignacio de Loyola Square, just behind the Carmen Thyssen Museum in the Old Town of Málaga.

This Neo-Gothic church was built for the Jesuits in 1920, and was designed by the architect Fernando Guerrero Strachán.

Between them, two members of the Strachan family were responsible for some of the most emblematic buildings in Malaga built at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

Fernando Guerrero Strachan (1879-1930) was the nephew of another prominent architect Eduardo Strachan Viana-Cardenas. He was known as ‘the Gaudí of Málaga’ and was a pioneering architect. He left Málaga a wonderful legacy of beautiful buildings, with a long list of 72 catalogued buildings.

His works include Málaga City Hall, the Calle Larios, Hotel Miramar, the Banco Hispanoamericano building on the Alameda Principal and the Neo-Baroque Ayuntamiento Building. He was also the Mayor of Málaga between 1928 and 1930.

His son, Fernando Guerrero Strachan Rosado (1907-1941), was the architect behind the City Hall, the original Rosaleda stadium and the restoration work on the Gibralfaro Castle and the Alcazaba Fortress.

Between them, the father and son designed countless other stunning façades either created from scratch or refurbished for their clients.

An ornate rose window sits above the arches of the main doors (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The elder Strachan’s design for the Jesuit Church of the Sacred Heart was inspired by the cathedrals in Ávila and Burgos in northern Spain. This elegant church was built in the neo-Gothic style.

The eye-catching façade in soft biscuit stone, topped with two spires and covered in Gothic-style tracery. An ornate rose window sits above the arches of the main doors. This cream and yellow façade is a long way from the dark stone used previously for churches.

Inside, the interior of the church is just as impressive as the exterior, is refreshingly bright and airy. It is built on a basilica plan, divided in three naves and covered by a rib vault. The crossing on an octagonal plan has a star-shaped vault. The choir is at the end of the central nave, which is higher and wider than the side aisles.

Oranges growing in the courtyard of the Sacred Heart Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The Neo-Gothic High Altar is the work of the the artist Adrian Risueño. A sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the work of the artist Antonio Maumon and dates from 1940.

Paintings on either side of the High Altar depict the Jesuits Saint Ignatius de Loyola and Saint Francisco de Borja.
The narrow stained-glass windows are by the renowned French firm of Mauméjean in Pau, and feature scenes from the lives of the saints.

The tower of Santiago Church on Calle Granada (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

On the other hand, the Santiago Church or Church of Saint James the Apostle on Calle Granada is the oldest church in Málaga. The church was founded in 1490, it became a parish in 1505 and was built in 1509 on the site of a former mosque.

The central entrance in the Mudéjar style is all that remains of the original façade, but the building retains Islamic, gothic and baroque elements. The square tower in the same style was conceived as a separate minaret and was attached to the church in the 16th century.

The central entrance in the Mudéjar style is all that remains of the original façade of Santiago Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Inside, the church has three naves and valuable works by Alonso Cano and Niño de Guevara, as well as significant items that include a 16th century chalice with a star-shaped foot and a six-sided body. The main altarpiece dates from the 18th century, and came from the church of a Dominican convent.

A sign outside reminds passers-by that the artist Pablo Picasso was baptised in this church on 10 November 1881.

Symbols of Saint James and the Camino to Santiago at the door of the Santiago Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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