During your visit to Madrid, Spain’s capital, one of the most outstanding churches you will find is the “Parroquia de San Ginés“ (San Gines Parish).
You will find this church halfway between Puerta del Sol and Plaza de la Oriente on Calle Arenal.
There is almost no way to miss it, as this church exterior maintains the characteristic brick and masonry façade of the Madrid temples. However, its neoclassical interior may very well surprise you.
San Gines’ church may be familiar to you as it is right next to the San Gines passage, where the famous and historic San Gines chocolate shop in Madrid is, a traditional meeting place on Madrid’s New Year’s Eve.
But you already knew that. 😉
This church is a temple built in the middle of the seventeenth century. Specifically in 1645.
Once upon a time, another church was at that exact location dedicated to the same saint San Ginés de Arlés but demolished after being in ruins.
This previous church was built in 1106, while Castille was reigned by Alfonso VI.
D. Bernardo de Cluny, first Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, consecrated this Church outside the town walls in honor of San Gines, martyr of Arles, on the banks of the Arenal stream.
In 1156, King Alfonso VII granted San Gines a privilege by which the village of Salvanes, with its mountains, fountains, meadows, and pastures, was donated to the Saint.
The Codex of Juan el Deacono, from the 13th century, cites the Church of San Gines as one of those that San Isidro visited on his tour of the temples of the Villa and its suburbs.
In 1358 Pope Innocent VI of Avignon, on the occasion of a sack and sacrilegious robbery, sent a Bull to the Parish of San Gines granting indulgences to all who collaborated in the redress.
Two years later, D. Juan González, Chaplain of King Pedro I, carried out an important reconstruction work by placing the royal coats of arms on its walls.
The interior’s neoclassical style is due to a reform carried out in the middle of the 18th century by architect Juan de Villanueva (among others).
After one of the many fires that the church has gone through throughout its history, this reform took place.
King Carlos II, on Good Friday, 1676, delivered, for the main altar of the Parish, a set of Cross and six chandeliers, which have participated in various exhibitions of exceptional goldsmith work.
In 1826 at the request of King Fernando VII, the royal organ builder Benito Vaquero completed the construction of the new organ, recently recovered.
The last significant reform was the one carried out in the middle of the 20th century.
Architects in charge raised the walls’ plastering to bring out the bricks and thus recover the aesthetics of the Madrid churches of that time.
At the same time, the main façade of Calle Arenal was also completely renovated.
What to See
When you visit the church of San Gines of Madrid, the first thing that will possibly catch your attention is the plaque commemorating various events of prominent figures who passed through the church, as the baptism of Quevedo or Lope de Vega’s wedding.
Inside its three naves, you will find numerous chapels with altarpieces, most of them neoclassical in style.
Perhaps, the most prominent is the Chapel of the Holy Christ of Redemption, which, due to its configuration, will seem like a small church attached to that of San Gines.
In it, you will be able to appreciate the different colored marbles that cover the ceiling, as well as the numerous frescoes distributed along its walls. In San Gines, there are numerous and outstanding artistic works, such as the painting The Purification of the Temple, by El Greco, or the sculpture of the Fallen Christ, by Nicholas Fumo.
Towards the middle of the 20th century, the temple was in a very deplorable state of conservation. After a laborious restoration, in 1982 the Parish of San Ginés was declared one of Spain’s National Historic-Artistic Monument.