Church and hospital of San Juan de Dios
Another example of late 17th century architecture, combining a sober exterior with an exaggeratedly-Baroque interior.
Begun in the late 17th century in accordance with the design and directorship of Melchor de Aguirre, the building received its blessing as a church in 1716, although the hospital and convent were not completed until the end of the 18th century.
Its highly-simple exterior was built using sandstone taken from the Roman ruins of Sigilia Barba, with the exception of the porch, constructed from red El Torcal limestone.
Inside, the church is decorated with a wealth of lively white plasterwork which makes it a veritable jewel of Andalusian Baroque. This simple structure –Latin Cross ground plan, domed crossing and flat chevet bereft of side naves- is almost entirely covered by vaults and walls featuring undulating stucco work dominated by vegetable motifs, angels and a variety of fauna, some real, others of a more fantastic nature. The visitor will particularly enjoy the crossing’s pendentine-supported dome, where the profusion of decoration that characterises the whole of the interior is especially evident.
The central niche of the church’s main altarpiece, attributed to Josê Francisco Guerrero, houses an exquisite sculpture of the Inmaculada.
In the pictorial department, the highlight is provided by the extensive collection of artwork that decorates both the church and the sacristy, an interesting symbiosis of plasterwork and paintings primarily devoted to the life of San Juan de Dios.
Surviving elements of the original hospital building are the irregularly-shaped central patio, constructed in the 18th century though later renovated, and the “Imperial”-style staircase.
The hospital exterior was restored in 1986, thus recovering its original "framework" design.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jesús Romero Benîtez, Guîa Artîstica de Antequera