Nerja's Nuestra Señora de las Angustias chapel opened in 1720 / e. cabezas

Over 100 years of attempts to get Nerja's Nuestra Señora de las Angustias chapel listed

Alejandro Bueno, who was the town’s mayor between 1926 and 1927, had campaigned for the building to be protected from as early as 1910

Eugenio Cabezas

The chapel of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, located in the centre of Nerja, is one of the town's most important religious monuments. Inaugurated in 1720, the building has undergone two major restorations: in the middle of the last decade to protect the valuable frescoes on its dome, and the most recent, completed in 2019, when the layers of lime and paint were removed and its original appearance restored. Inside it houses valuable paintings of religious scenes from the Granada school, painted in the 1730s.

A man called Alejandro Bueno, who was the town’s mayor between 1926 and 1927, had campaigned for the building to be listed as early as 1910. However, it never got the status he thought it should. Now the town hall is continuing to push for recognition and it hopes that in 2022 the chapel will be declared a BIC (property of cultural interest) by the regional Junta de Andalucía.

Francisco Capilla a professor of history and the researcher José Miguel Ortuño, have published a book 'Apuntes Históricos de la Ermita y Patronato de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias de la Villa de Nerja' (historical notes on the chapel and heritage of Our Lady of Anguish of the town of Nerja), in which they have revealed previously unpublished material that was kept in the personal archives of Bueno's family. "Alejandro Bueno is one of the most interesting characters in the history of Nerja. At the age of 18 he was already working as a clerk in the town hall and died as mayor," Ortuño explains.

The researcher points out that Bueno was "a great scholar and connoisseur of the chapel, which is why he managed to get the support of well-known personalities of the time such as the Spanish intellectual, historian and archaeologist Amador de los Ríos, to support him in his quest for the protection of the monument." Capilla points out that "in 1910 he published articles in a very popular cultural magazine in Granada, 'La Alhambra', and in several Malaga newspapers, defending the historical and heritage value of the chapel.”

A last resort

In Capilla's opinion, Bueno wrote his review in 1927 "as a last resort after a few years in which he had not succeeded in his goal.” He goes on to say, "In his work there are some inaccuracies and errors, which we have clarified and expanded on, in no case are they corrections, they are questions of dates and names that have been completed later," says the historian, for whom Bueno was "a pioneer in the defence of Nerja's cultural heritage."

As Capilla discovered and SUR reported in the summer of 2018, the Nerja chapel was built by Bernarda Alférez, a woman from Granada married to Luis López Enríquez de Alcántara, who in 1700 bought a mill known then as San Antonio Abad de Nerja. Alférez was tried in the 1727 inquisition for secretly practicing Islam. The chapel became the property of the town hall in 1853.

Nerja’s current mayor José Alberto Armijo congratulated Capilla and Ortuño for their work "which has brought to light these historical documents on the Ermita de las Angustias."

Armijo went on to say that an online meeting is planned for January with José Manuel Becerra from the Junta de Andalucía, to promote the declaration of the religious building for BIC status as part of Andalucía’s historical heritage.

The book was presented in the chapel last week. / sur