Crypt of Santa Maria de la Victoria – Málaga, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Málaga, Spain

Crypt of Santa Maria de la Victoria

Bold black and white motifs of life and death add a dramatic flair to this 17th-century crypt.  

Just outside the historic district of Malaga, the Basilica of Santa Maria de la Victoria houses an extraordinary little crypt, decorated top to bottom with playfully macabre figures of skeletons and cherubs.

Built on the site where King Ferdinand re-captured the city in 1487, the building we see dates to the late 17th century. Also known as the Pantheon of the Counts of Buenavista, the walls of the crypt are decorated in an usually dramatic white-on-black baroque plasterwork style, giving the room an intense sense of the dramatic.

The tower representing heaven is impressive in just how ornate it is. It has a rare depiction of a heavily pregnant Madonna. Note that the crypt and tower can only be visited as part of a very interesting tour where you’ll learn about how the monks designed the crypt to remind people that the important stuff is on the inside. Just like their heavenly tower, from the outside the church does not look impressive but hiding inside is a gem that will take your breath away.

Also open in the same hours is the cloister which is not part of the tour and can be accessed freely. Walk to the left of the building and you will come to a corridor which leads to a stunning courtyard.  



Know Before You Go

The entrance is at the Garden Side of the Sanctuary. Guided tours (the only way to visit the Crypt and the Heavenly Tower) are from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 1:00, being subject to some exceptions depending on church celebrations such as baptisms, first communions, weddings, etc. Days celebrating special dates, like the Day of the Immaculate conception, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, etc. are also excluded.

As of July 2018 the parish priest is wanting to stop all visits if he can and the tower will also close soon to be renovated, so it may be closed until late 2019. It is truly worth seeing this marvel ASAP.

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