Declared a Site of Cultural Interest (BIC) in 2001
The Santa María la Mayor Church is also home to Estepa’s Museum of Sacred Art, located on the Cerro de San Cristobal.
The Church sits inside the walled compound of Estepa Castle, next to the Santa Clara and San Francisco convents.
The temple is located on the highest point of Estepa where the city was initially founded. The Church began to be built after the city was conquered in 1240. This is very important because the Church was part of the defensive system as it is located next to the Castle.
The original building was a 10th-century mosque that was later replaced with a Mudejar church. In the 14th century, the Order of Santiago built a Gothic church in its place. It was expanded between the 15th and 16th centuries, although it was never finished as the Order abandoned the site. Following these events, the Marquisate of Estepa added Mannerist and Baroque ornaments.
Highlights include an image of St John the Evangelist, attributed to Juan de Mesa, and a Byzantine reliquary of the Lignum Crucis from the 12th century.
Due to the deteriorating condition, the sculptor from Jaén, Andrés de Ocampo, replaced the main altarpiece in 1578. This sculptor also made the altarpieces of the Santa Marta Monastery in Córdoba. Although the altarpiece is in Romanist style, it is practically unrecognisable owing to the baroque ornaments added in the 18th century.
Also noteworthy is the historicist-style square bell tower topped by an octagonal spire.