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Hidden Mudéjar Treasures in the Church of Santiago


The Mudéjar Tower and Gate of the Church of Santiago on Granada Street are two hidden treasures of Málaga city.





Located on Granada Street is the Church of Santiago, the first church built in Málaga following the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs to the city.




Mudéjar Tower


The Mudéjar Tower, or Arab Minaret, was erected around the 16th century. It is made up of four sections, the first of which is free of any adornment and is flanked by wide pilasters, connecting with a barely protruding cornice. It features a window on its front for ventilation and interior lighting, which is its only hole and decoration. The second body contrasts this, displaying on three of its four faces, delicate diamond patterns made with sectioned bricks. These spring from six small columns topped by capitals of the same material.


All the geometric adornment is flanked by delicate pilasters that also end in terracotta filigrees. At the bottom of the same section is a small hole for interior ventilation, carved from sectioned brick, which does not interfere with the ascending diamond pattern. The third body is separated from the previous one by a cornice that, despite its slight overhang, allows the observation of 12 pyramid-shaped elements per side. This inset rectangle is smaller than the previous one and lacks decoration, but this lack of adornment is complemented by a double tondo of brick edges, inside of which is another small narrow and vertical hole for ventilation. Shorter than the one below, this body ends in a twisted string-course that was also made in baked clay.


The fourth and final section serves as a bell gable, since its four faces open as many semicircular arches where the bells are held. Its cover is a hemispherical dome adorned with glazed tiles and ceramic balls in traditional green and honey yellow colours of Hispano-Muslim pottery, and ends in a bulbous ceramic structure, around which a weathervane rotates.


Take a loving pause at each of its elements, you're sure to find new reasons to appreciate its archaic beauty, its perfect arrangement, the harmony of its structure and, above all, the delicacy of its craftsmanship.





Mudéjar Gate


The now bricked up main gate of the church is of Mudéjar style. It's constructed from a template brick, opens with a pointed arch with a conopial archivolt framed by an alfiz that descends to the ground. The spandrels are decorated with geometrically patterned tiling forming eight and ten-pointed knots in white, red, blue, and green, similar to those in the Tower of the Infantas of the Alhambra or the Royal Chapel of the Cordoba mosque. If you look closely at the top left there is a ten-pointed star, and on the right, an eight-pointed one. At the top, there is a medallion with the insignia of the Apostle Santiago.



As Rosario Camacho tells us, in the 18th century, this church underwent extensive refurbishments including a new sacristy, relegating the first to a side chapel, the Chapel of the Pillar, and new entrance doors to the side naves. They blocked the main entrance to move the choir from the centre of the nave to a raised position over it, supported on the wall of the facade, and gilded the altarpiece. In addition, they lowered the floor, covered the frame with a false plaster and reed vault with baroque ornaments, and also built a new presbytery vault.



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