Crypt of Buenavista Malaga
Hours: 10 am to 1 pm. Closed at weekends and on bank holidays.
Admission: € 2.-
Make time to walk to this remarkable basilica, just outside Málaga’s historic city centre.
You can walk here in less than ten minutes from the Plaza de la Merced.
What in 1487 was the site of an encampment of the Catholic monarchs’ army during their battle against the Moors, and subsequently was transformed into a monastery of the Order of Minims, is now an extraordinary church.
There is a lot to see in the basilica ‘Santuario de la Virgen de la Victoria’. The monumental, yet restrained exterior belies the lush, Baroque world of its interior.
The basilica was commissioned by the Counts of Buenavista and was completed in the year 1700.
A crypt containing several tombs was built in the underground space. This crypt was intended to serve as a family tomb, but it was never used as such. The Buenavista couple died childless in Madrid, but not without leaving behind these extraordinary sights for visitors to enjoy.
Both the walls and the ceiling are painted black and adorned with plastered skeletons, skulls and bones. These represent the various stages of death. The marble statues on the tombs represent the Buenavista couple.
A three hundred year old staircase, tiled with the original tiles, leads up from the vault to the basilica chapel and altar where the atmosphere changes immediately.
The ornate chapel, lavishly decorated with gold leaf, looks nothing like the rather macabre crypt. Here you will find the statue of the Holy Virgin of the Victory (La Virgin de la Victoria), who is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Malaga.
Next to the chapel is a room full of valuable relics associated with the statue of the Virgin. A heavy silver crown, jewellery and man-sized silver candlesticks are on display. However, the most striking exhibit is without doubt an extraordinary mantle, studded with precious jewels, and donated in gratitude by Anita Delgado, a once famous flamenco dancer and singer from Malaga. She credited the healing of her ailing son to the Holy Virgin.
The church can be visited providing a service is not in progress.
Every year on 8 September, the statue of La Virgen de la Victoria is moved to the Cathedral of Malaga.
From here, the statue is carried through the city in procession on a heavy float, along with all her possessions.
The procession is organised by the Hermandad de la Victoria (Brotherhood of the Victory). It moves slowly through the streets ultimately returning to the foot of the Basilica, eliciting the fascination of Malagueños and tourists alike.