The most outstanding Building of the historical city centre is undoubtedly the Iglesia-Fortaleza de San Bartolomé (St. Bartholomew Church-Fortress), from the 14th to the 16th Centuries, with expansions in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The main work is framed within the Isabelline Gothic style. Its importance and history motivated its declaration as a National Artistic Monument in 1931.
Its history began in the 1304 with the Building of the current Presbytery. However, due to the population growth and the attacks from Barbary Corsairs since the 15th Century, it was advisable to enlarge the fortress. Hence in 1513, the works began under the supervision of the Navarro master builder, Domingo Urteaga.
It is a large Gothic nave headed by an apse, with three chapels on each side framed by the buttresses.
Subsequently, diverse structures (Old and New Sacristy and the “Capilla de la Comunión” (Communion Chapel)) were added to the sides of the apse. In the North union between the apse and the nave, there is a bell tower completed in the 17th Century which was also used as a watch tower.
It has a groined vault ceiling. Above the chapels, a gallery or triforium extends, with small Ogee arches that open into the interior nave and large windows facing the exterior due to its defensive purpose.
The main construction element is the local “tosca” sandstone, where few decorative elements remain in its interior. There are also few decorative architectural elements in the exterior; we highlight the heraldic coat of arms above the access gates, the floral decorations of the voussoirs and the balls of the entrance doors.
The complex is finished with battlements and equipped with arrow slits, spans for mortars and two parapet balconies over the gates and others have disappeared which formerly comprised a rail in the building’s upper section. It perfectly fulfilled its two objectives: To cover the religious needs of the town and defend the population against the attacks by the Barbary Corsairs.
The substratum of the current cement pavement conceals an unknown set of funeral crypts and vessels, probably from the 16th Century.
The church can be visited from 10:30 am. to 12:30 pm. from monday to friday. In the afternoons, saturdays, sundays and bank holidays will be open 30 minutes before the mass.