The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Antequera

Publicado: 07/07/2012: 5878

The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Antequera is situated in the square that bears its name, in the highest part of the city.

Founded around 1513 and completed during the second half of the 17th century, the convent reached its greatest splendour in the 18th century, up until its exclaustration.

It was then left unused, fell into disrepair and was demolished at the end of the 19th century. The church, which stands today, has witnessed extensive restoration works, including the preservation of a magnificent Baroque altarpiece – one of the most shining examples of this style in Andalusia. Today the church stands as if left dangling in the empty space, almost watching the river De La Villa. The modest appearance of the exterior of this church only serves to emphasize the grandeur of its interior in a style very much befitting the Baroque mood of its time, although this effect is in fact a consequence of the disappearance of the old convent.

A simple Mannerist entrance, consisting of a semi-circular arch between two Tuscan half-columns over plinths and crowned by a curved split façade bearing the Carmel coat of arms, leads into a church built at the end of the 16th Century and remodelled in the 18th, whose most prized possession is its imposing high altarpiece.

To the right of this entrance a small belfry with a single opening is all that remains of the Torre Del Gallo (Rooster Tower), destroyed in 1883. A prominent Mudejar-style coffered ceiling, completed in 1614, covers its only nave, rectangular in shape. The absence of timber joists allows for a better appreciation of the whole.

With minor exceptions, the church conforms to the style of a Moorish church from Granada, that is to say: a single nave, with a spatially well-defined main chancel and two  separate side chapels. A new side-chapel with a small cupola was added to the foot of the church in the 18th century, the chapel of the Cofradia de La Soledad (Brotherhood of Solitude), which houses a statue of the Virgen de Socorro (Virgin of Succour) gifted by the Catholic Monarchs to the church-mosque of San Salvador.

The main chancel is a modest space of square form adorned with high altars on three sides and roofed by a domed ceiling finished with stucco work. The high altar that stands in the centre is of enormous proportions. Erected some years before 1747, its beauty and splendour make it one of the most noteworthy 18th century Baroque altarpieces in Andalusia, amply demonstrated by its complex jointing of estipite columns, cornices, niches and faux curtains: as well as by its tracings of mixtilinear zigzag cross sections. Moreover, the absence of the gilding that would traditionally be associated with this type of work, further emphasises its intricate detailing, granting it uniqueness and beauty.

The designer of this altarpiece is unknown to us, however, we do know that Diego Marquez de la Vega and Jose Medina were the artists who created this collection of sculptures, masterpiece of superb carvings and moving composition.



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