The facade of the convent, which still opens in the mornings even though the nuns have left.
/ CARLOS MORET
Good news for anybody out there who might wish to purchase an old building in the centre of Malaga City and live in it without changing it too much. ‘18th century convent for sale in the city centre. Interested parties should contact the Dominican nuns’. They have not, in fact, placed such an advertisement in the newspapers, although they might well have done, because the Dominican nuns have put the building they moved out of two years ago on calle Andrés Pérez up for sale. They were forced to leave it due to falling vocations. The successful sale of the building could mean that they will return to the city, but so far, they have found no serious buyers.
The convent has to be sold with certain conditions attached, which complicated its sale. It is officially protected, which means that its basic architecture cannot be changed, thus restricting eventual plans as a hotel and many other commercial uses, and its use is restricted, preventing its possible conversion into apartments.
For this reason, the nuns suggested to the City Hall that they buy it for conversion into a public building, and although the proposal is being studied, no reply has yet been forthcoming. The nuns have been travelling from Cordoba and Antequera over recent weeks to discuss the proposal with representatives of the Malaga City Hall.
The City Hall is not entirely convinced about the price of the building. The nuns are asking six million euros, without including the church in the deal for the moment. This church is still open to the public in the mornings, although there are no nuns in the convent. They have reached an agreement with the Brotherhood of Wine-makers for its use, whether or not there are nuns still living in the building.
The Malaga City Hall offered to purchase part of the building some years ago and contribute to its conservation, and they are now studying the possibility of incorporating some of the adjacent building in any final deal, which would make the entire building more attractive for them to buy. An analysis of this option has concluded that the only adjacent building available is on the corner of the new square created by the building of the Gordón and Pericón passageways, already owned by the City Hall. They plan to build a new nursery, a citizens’ participation centre and offices for the Department of Equality on this site, and have received European funds in recent days to carry out the project over the coming five years. If they purchase the convent, the project will be amplified to include the patios which were used by the nuns over the past two centuries.
Although the nuns hope that the building will be acquired in its entirety by the City Hall or some other public institution, they are willing to negotiate with private companies and individuals as well. It could be turned into a hotel, they suggest, or a residence for old people, even with the building restrictions placed on it by the government protection order.
End of an era
The Dominican nuns abandoned the building in the summer of 2006, when most of the older community members had finally died of old age. The community was then reduced to a single nun and a few novices, who were unable to carry on the increasingly difficult task of caring for the building. The order’s superiors ordered that it be shut down and all its works of religious art be transferred to the Dominican monastery in Antequera. The remaining nun will also live there until this building too is sold in the near future.
The Dominican nuns set up the Convent of La Aurora María in Malaga in the year 1720, on calle Puente. According to the Historic-Artistic Guide to Malaga by Rosario Camacho, they received a donation of a number of houses on calle Andrés Pérez in 1759, which they knocked down to build their new convent. This was where they moved to in 1787, and where they remained until two years ago.
The convent has been known locally as the Convento de las Catalinas, given its proximity to calle Muro de las Catalinas. The building was designed with four interior patios and a small area of land used as a cemetery. In three years time, however, the mortal remains of the nuns in this cemetery who died in 2006 will be removed to a new resting place. In the meantime, the Dominican nuns will continue to search for a suitable buyer.