The Iglesia de las Salinas has been slowly decaying since its construction in 1907. The century-old church lies the coast of Almería in the Cabo de Gata natural park. A combination of ocean winds and salt in the air–the church’s name comes from the fact that it sits next to a salt processing operation–have been literally eating away at the stone construction. The process has worn down the facade, making it appear much more advanced in years.
However, recently the process of decay has accelerated, hastened by neglect and periodic vandalism. A faded billboard from 2007, the 100th anniversary of the building’s construction, promises rehabilitation “soon.” The church is under the control of the Roman Catholic Dioces of Almería, which so far has not followed through on their promises to protect the site.
Then on Monday morning March 7 workers at the salt plant saw the church doors wide open. They entered and found a “terrifying” site–the interior walls and floor were covered with black and red symbols and drawings evoking the devil. Remnants of candles and other materials seemed to suggest the space had been used to perform a satanic ritual. The Bishop of Almeria held an emergency meeting denouncing the “profane” act of vandalism.
The lengthy process of obtaining construction permits for the location, only meters from the coastline and in the middle of a natural park, has also delayed the renovation. But within twenty four hours of the discovery, the Andalucian environmental authorities promised the approvals were being fast-tracked and the local government of Almeria promised $150,000 euros towards the project. Sometimes it takes an encounter with the devil to finally get things moving.