BASÍLICA DE VEGA DE MAR
- The first tombs were discovered in the beginnings of the 20th century. The basilica was not found until 1930.
- In 1930 the first archaeological research took place and the whole plan appeared.
- Between 1977 and 1981 it went through several excavation campaigns, all of them of short duration.
This basilic was excavated in the beginnings of the 20th century. Only the walls up to approximately one meter high are preserved. It is a clear example of the Visigothic churches of Northafrican type that were built in the south of the peninsula during the 6th century. Among others we can mention the ones of El Germo in Córdoba, Casa Herrera and La Cocosa in Badajoz and Torre Palma in Portugal. Unfortunately, as it happens with all churches of this group, only its plan has reached us, making it very difficult to figure out its complete structure.
The Vega de Mar basilic, located in San Pedro de Alcántara, on the Roman road that went from Cartagena to Cádiz, very near the sea, next to important Roman thermal baths and now surrounded by a wood of eucalyptus that make a beautiful surrounding, is square shaped, 11.5 m by side and divided in three naves by a series of pillars of irregular plan. Like with all the churches of this group, the first thing that calls our attention is the existence of two opposite apses; one semicircular to the east and the other one, that was the main apse, to the west; horseshoe shaped within a rectangle that forms two lateral rooms around it. The one located at the north has a magnificent baptismal font sculpted in just one stone block with the outside shape of a fish, of clear Christian symbolism, four-lobed in its interior with the seven steps that correspond to the seven grades of the mystery of the Holy Ghost, descibed later on by St. Isidoro: three descending ones, the central one and three ascending ones. Thisroom has two doors: one to the outside and one to the nave, according to the rite that stated that the new catechumen could not get in the church before being baptized.
The entrances were located at the northern and southern sides where there are remains of tha lateral porticos. The one in the north side has been used for burials. There is also a great amount of tombs of different periods, that go from the Empire until the seventh century, around the apses that contain rests of great interest; among which we can mention from a small pear-shaped glass bottle, of clear Roman tradition, and rests of "terra sigilata" pottery that, although of Roman origin, it went on being produced in the Visigothic period, to decorated marble plates, one of them with two conflicting fowls, another one with a Constantinian chrismon that is probably the most ancient one found in Spain. Also the fact of having found coins of the imperial period until Liuva II indicates that the basilic, at least the necropolis, was used for a long period.
The building is poor as with all the churches of this group, of small roughstone and brick with mortar of a quality that is very far away from that of the cruciform churches of the 7th century. However, in some areas, speciallly in the pillars, another type of construction may be noticed based on big and much better scuplted ashlars that, together with the fact that these pillars are located quite irregularly with respect to the basilica's plan, and the existence of tombs and coins of the previous period, makes us think that this 6th century building was built upon the rests of a former one, possibly a Paleo-Christian basilic, that may have been destroyed by the earthquake in that zone in the year 365.
Other interesting information
Access: Freeway A-7: Exit at 68.9 Km from Málaga by A-376; after 1,2 Km you reach San Pedro de Alcántara. The basilic is within a housing development near the sea, before crossing the Guadalmina river.
GPS Coordinates: 36º 28' 19,07"N 4º 59' 24,84"W.
Information Telephone: Delegación Municipal de Cultura de Marbella, c/ Hospital Bazán s/n. Telephone number: 952 28 78 50.
Visiting hours: Pick up the keys at the Oficinas de Turismo in San Pedro de Alcántara and in Marbella.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomo III
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L'Art Preroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
La basílica paleocristiana de Vega del Mar
Recosrucción teóorica de la basílica paleocristiana de Vega del Mar