On your next trip to Madrid and you go to the Royal Palace, don’t forget to visit the Almudena Cathedral.
The Almudena Cathedral is the main ecclesiastical building in Madrid, which curiously has had the Cathedral title for a very short time.
This Cathedral houses the figure of the patron saint of Madrid, the Virgen de la Almudena.
Since Madrid became Spain’s capital in the 16th century, there was a need to endow it with a cathedral monument.
But it was not until 1993 when Pope John Paul II consecrated the building as a cathedral.
When you arrive at the Plaza de Oriente, and you are in front of the majestic Royal Palace, you will see the great dome and the two towers of the Almudena Cathedral on the left.
You will be surprised by the excellent uniformity that its neoclassical style shows in its architecture.
In 1950, the City of Madrid finally undertook the construction of the Almudena Cathedral current building; an architectural premise was that it should form a monumental complex with the Royal Palace of Madrid.
As a historical reference, it is essential to mention that the first intention to equip Madrid with a cathedral building consisted of reforming the then church of Santa María de la Almudena.
The church of Santa María de la Almudena was a building of medieval origin near where we now find the Almudena Cathedral.
Even now, you can see the archaeological remains of the medieval church of Almudena.
But this attempt collided with Toledo’s archdiocese’s resistance, which tried to prevent Madrid from being the seat of its diocese.
When in 1868, the medieval church of Almudena disappeared, all efforts became focused on building a great cathedral for Madrid.
In 1883, King Alfonso XII laid the first stone on land donated by the Royal Heritage. At the same time, it established the diocese of Madrid-Alcalá.
The Marqués de Cubas was in charge of the new Almudena Cathedral project. He proposed the construction of a large neo-Gothic architectural style building.
Now, the first thing built in 1911 was the Crypt of the Almudena Cathedral. You can access it from the adjoining Cuesta de la Vega street.
From then on, the works came to a standstill, and even more so after the Civil War.
In 1950 the project resumed and was entrusted to Fernando Chueca Goitia and Carlos Sidro. They decided to build the Cathedral’s exterior in the new neoclassical style, keeping with the style of the Royal Palace. At the same time, they decided to keep the interior construction in the initial project’s neo-Gothic style.
In 1965, the construction stopped and did not resume until 1983. This time, until the definitive consecration as the Cathedral of Madrid in 1993.
Almudena Cathedral Museum.
Not many people know about this, but although the museum is quite interesting in itself, it is the different views of Madrid you will enjoy by visiting this museum.
The guided tour begins in Chapter House.
The next room, the Sacristy, has a distinctive modern decoration, specifically from 2005, with scenes from the Old and New Testaments made with “Tessera Mosaics” that combine tiles, enamels, and stones.
In the Sacristy’s anteroom, you will see a painting of the Sagrada Familia made by Carreño Miranda in 1649, the most important work among the images preserved in this museum.
Then you go up to the first of the two galleries of the Almudena Cathedral Museum, which run above the side aisles of the Cathedral.
As soon as you reach the gallery floor, you will pass through the terrace of the main façade of the Cathedral, from where you will have excellent panoramic views of the Royal Palace and its Plaza de la Armería.
You will see an image of Santa María de la Almudena, patron saint of Madrid, highly ornamented with a dress and precious stones in this room.
Views of Madrid from the Terrace of the Almudena Cathedral
When you finish visiting the first of the museum’s galleries, you will go up to the Cathedral’s dome. At this point, the guided tour will end, and you will be able to step out onto the exterior terraces to enjoy several panoramic views of the cathedral surroundings.
Don’t forget …
Also, remember that next to the elevators, there’s an impressive model of the Almudena Cathedral’s original project.
This model at scale considered the construction of a great gothic cathedral in the perfect image of French cathedrals.