Not all the churches here are magnificent and filled with great art. Some are in ruins. This is the Iglesia Madre De Dios, the Chuch of the Mother of God.
As you can see, there is scaffolding around the bell tower. It’s there not just to restore the facade, but to keep the tower itself standing.
Parts of the walls seem intact…
…but you can see more of the major problems with the structure in this picture.
With the roof in this condition, this building needed immediate emergency repairs, which were started in 2015.
The exterior scaffolding and support system is easy to see…
…but you have to imagine that inside is another set of scaffolding at least as extensive to support the crumbling roof. It’s not possible to enter the building for pictures, but I did find one with some googling.
This photo seems to show the beginning of shoring up the roof. There are large piles of scaffolding still to be assembled.
This church is associated with a convent that has a history going back before 1600. The low point was the looting of Cordoba by the French in 1808. Everything of any value was taken, and the space was converted into barracks and stables. After the 2 year occupation, the restoration of the church was completed in 1819. Then another type of disaster struck. In 1821, all convents of fewer than 20 people were “suppressed.” I suppose this means they were legally dissolved. At any rate, the convent began selling all of its possessions.
It’s hard to untangle the story, but in 1864 the use of the church was ceded to the city by its owner, the Bishopric. These days, the city would like to return it, but the law apparently requires that it be returned in good condition. Like so many projects, the restoration is hard to finance. The initial emergency work was contracted on a bid of 160,654 euros. The total cost of restoration is projected to be a million euros.
The little I’ve read suggests that church/state relations in Spain have a very complex history, far beyond the shallow research I do for this blog. For example, in a previous post I wrote about the religious paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts. Most of that art was confiscated from religious institutions over many years. Basically, the government needed money, and they simply confiscated land and property, mostly from the Church, and then auctioned it off. This sounds purely evil, but its overall impact is more complicated. A huge amount of wealth was concentrated in one part of a society with a large and very poor lower class.
The entire issue is very complicated, but it’s one reason that so much religious art is no longer in churches, and also a reason why some church buildings are in such bad condition.