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Monuments in Almería

Almeria – Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion

Monuments in Almería

Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion

The Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is located at the Cathedral Square with Bendicho Square, in the Andalusian town of Almeria, just few minutes from the impressive Alcazaba of Almeria.

From the first day of the Reconquest, the Greater Mosque, erected at the foot of the Alcazaba, had been dedicated to Catholic worship, converted into a Cathedral Church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Incarnation. At the request of the Catholic Monarchs, the cathedral with its chapter was canonically and officially erected, issuing a bull by Pope Innocent VIII on May 10, 1486. ​​The old mosque-cathedral remained in its function until 1522, when a very violent earthquake almost completely collapsed its factory, leaving only the Main Chapel standing.

Given this situation, Bishop Fray Diego Fernández de Villalán, preacher of the Catholic Monarchs, will be the true promoter of the new Cathedral. Work on the new Cathedral began in 1524. The model chosen for the construction of the building is late Gothic, with a hall floor plan, ambulatory, three naves at the same height and a polygonal main chapel.

The Renaissance phase takes place in the third quarter of the 16th century and is linked to the work of Juan de Orea, an architect and carver who was hired in 1555 by Bishop Villalán for the construction of the Holy Week Monument. On this date the perimeter of the Cathedral was closed, with the exception of angle O where the tower was built. The three naves were totally closed and the Chapels of La Piedad and Santo Cristo were built. His work in the cathedral lasted until 1572 and basically consisted of the construction of the enclosure and choir stalls (1558-1561), Chapel of San Indalecio (1562-1564), completion of the Chapel of Piety, Sacristy (1566), North or main portal (1567), Portal of Pardons (1569), Sepulcher of Bishop Villalán in the Chapel of Santo Cristo and decoration of the transept lantern.

With the Bishop of Portocarrero, work on the cathedral is relaunched. The tower continues from 1604. It was conceived as the Torre del Homenaje of the fortress. Attached to the NW corner, it has a square floor plan and prismatic shape, solid and with few decorations. In 1613 the body of bells was completed and placed. The Chapel of the Tabernacle was built in 1606 and was expanded between 1721 and 1723. In this century the chapels on the south side were also built: Baptismal Chapel (current Prayer in the Garden), Chapel of San Lorenzo (current Jesus of Medinaceli ) and the Chapel of San Ildefonso. In the 18th century, the definitive image of the cathedral was outlined and important transformations were carried out: remodeling and decoration of the Main Chapel, construction of the Pulpits, Tabernacle, retrochoir and Cloister. The remodeling was carried out by decision of Bishop Fray Manuel de Santo Tomás in 1708. The Granada master José Sánchez was in charge of the work.

It consists of practicing semicircular arches in the walls, so that the Main Chapel is connected to the ambulatory. The tabernacle and the Trascoro were made according to the rules imposed by the Academy of San Fernando, which was the one who set the official guidelines for art at the time, in neoclassical style. The tabernacle was made by Eugenio Valdés in 1773 and the retrochoir was built from 1772 according to plans by Ventura Rodríguez. The cloister, made according to plans by Juan Antonio Munar, was completed in 1795. It is the purest example of Neoclassicism in the cathedral.

In the 19th century, the church and sacristy were paved with Macael marble and the chapter house was completed. In 1905 the Atrium of the Puerta de los Perdones was remodelled, building a new staircase, walls and gates. In 1913, restoration works were carried out on the cloister and the tower, which had been damaged by the 1910 earthquake. Since the 1960s, various works have been carried out on the cathedral. Work is being carried out on the exterior, regrowing some towers and repairing cornices and battlements. Work is being done on the unfinished Diocesan Museum, building a new room in the basement of the Tabernacle Chapel.

Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación - Almería

Travelling Information

Almería, the Roman Portus Magnus, come to be, centuries later Mariyat Bayyana (Bayana´s watchtower). It was the place where the harbour and watchtower of the Muslim city which bore that name could be found. Some kilometers up the Andarax River, near the present villages of Pechina and El Chuche. As time went by, Bayana declined, while Almería grew in importance, unteil in 955 Abderahman III ordered it to be walled, and to build its fortress (Alcazaba) and Main Mosque. The old, small settlement was organised as a medina, and so was born the definitive city of Almeria, which in 1469 was annexed to the Crown of Castile.

We can have pleasant walks along the newly pedestrianized streets in the old city, that will ley us to come into contact with the quarters which are heirs to that past, and their main historical remains, the Alcazaba (arab fortress), St. John´s Church, the Cathedral-Fortress, the Old Square or the Cable Inglés (Iron ore loading platform) being the most outstanding ones among many other interesting features.

Taking up the Way, our route follows the valleys of the Andarax and the Nacimiento rivers, to turn to Guadix and Granada along the old Roman and Muslim roads.

This Way from a Cathedral to another makes clear, that, even with such a different construction (as the needs and circumstances of Almeria and Santiago at the time of the building of each one of their Cathedrals were different), they were driven by the same political, social and religious feeling. In this view, to travel along the longest diagonal line on the Iberian Peninsula highlights the interest of this Mozarab Way of St. James.

We shall be rurrounded by semidesert ladscape, which make a stark contract to the green of croplands and riversides, and by loneliness of the old roads, inextricably linked to the riverbeds to make the true veins of our geography.

Doubtlessly, this cultural route, no matter each one´s religious beliefs, will help us to find our deepest being, alone or in our closest persons company, and meet a great number of people from the villages and the Way who, surely, will help us to accomplish our task.

Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación - Almería

Almería Town Hall

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