Delete
The church of San Antonio de Padua is located next to the road leading into the village from the Ronda-Gaucín road. SUR
Serving just 300 inhabitants, why is the church in Alpandeire so big and known as the 'Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda'?
Religion

Serving just 300 inhabitants, why is the church in Alpandeire so big and known as the 'Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda'?

A small, rundown place of worship, funding from the local priest and a local, wealthy lady, along with others in the community, came together to make this build happen - along with Malaga architect Antonio Ramos

Friday, 29 March 2024, 07:56

Compartir

Why is the church in Alpandeire so big? The building, dedicated to San Antonio de Padua and located next to the entrance to this village in the Genal valley in the Serranía de Ronda, is striking for its sheer size and lofty proportions, particularly as it is located in a village that nowadays amounts to barely 300 inhabitants. When it was built in the 18th century around 700 people lived in Alpandeire, birthplace of the revered Fray Leopoldo. Even that population total begs the question as to the size and characteristics of this building, a monument to the patronage of the rich and has thus been renamed the "Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda". The local theory is that the plans were mixed up and that this church was not the one intended to be built there.

Sergio Ramírez, professor of Art History at the University of Malaga (UMA), has published an article on the church based on his research, in which he discusses how the project was conceived and he praised the Malaga architect Antonio Ramos as the project lead. Ramos was also the master builder of Malaga cathedral and, according to Ramírez, he remains an unknown figure as far as the rest of his work is concerned. "Beyond his work on Malaga cathedral during the 18th century, he is still little known for his work on churches in the Malaga diocese" he said, calling for further research on this man's work, based on the Alpandeire church, especially because it has not been touched up since.

Karl Smallman

Apparently, the former church that the villagers had was very small, very basic and "did not even hold a quarter" of the population at the time, "dilapidated", "shored up", "at risk of collapse" and with damp problems in the lower part of the village centre. With this in mind, one of the villagers, Isabel Florentina Martín, a spinster involved in local religious affairs, and the priest, Alonso Gil Ordóñez, who came from a well-off family and who was probably the richest resident of the village when he died, put their monies into the project. They had a huge influence on the features of the church, and both were tenacious in their dealings with the relevant authorities, a determination that they were able to transmit to the rest of the neighbours, who became involved in their demands to renovate their church, this time in the upper part of the village. "Their contribution was crucial in the construction and the refurbishment of the church. The priest never got to see it finished," said Ramírez.

Karl Smallman
Imagen principal - Serving just 300 inhabitants, why is the church in Alpandeire so big and known as the 'Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda'?
Imagen secundaria 1 - Serving just 300 inhabitants, why is the church in Alpandeire so big and known as the 'Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda'?
Imagen secundaria 2 - Serving just 300 inhabitants, why is the church in Alpandeire so big and known as the 'Cathedral of the Serranía de Ronda'?

The author also pointed out in his article that Ramos took on the project directly, which was unusual for him: "He did not always take charge of his renovation projects. We do not know the reason why he took on this build in such a hands-on and personal manner, adding features that were not in keeping with what was required", said Ramírez, who stated that perhaps the fact that it was a new build, not on the remains of another church or other building, his hands were not tied and so he could demonstrate all his creativity, all this probably encouraged him to take the reins of the project.

The church comes with two mummies

The initial plans were rejected, describing the work as "misshapen and ridiculous", but the persistence of its benefactors and the voices behind them meant that work finally started and it was completed. The Catedral de la Serranía, which shares features with the Church of Santa Ana in Manilva and the Episcopal Palace in Malaga, among others, was made of inexpensive materials typical of the period.

Karl Smallman

It has architectural details of great beauty and in its crypt there are two mummified bodies, possibly of a married couple who were church benefactors, but it has not been ruled out that they are the remains of Florentina and the priest, although there is no information to confirm their identities.

Reporta un error en esta noticia

* Campos obligatorios