Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid

Ok so with time on a Sunday evening time to write about something that was in Madrid after I left from my living time there, and saw afterward while visiting the city.  I have written bits and pieces on it in other posts ,but this one is entirely on it.

I am talking about the Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena, next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. As everything there it is monumental and richly decorated. As you lead along Calle Mayor from the Plaza Mayor and you reach the Royal Palace or Palacio Real you can just look to your left and can’t missed it.

This is Church of 104 meters long and 76 meters wide with a mix of architecture styles from neo classic in the exterior to neo roman in the interior and neo gothic in the crypt. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in his fourth trip to Spain in June 15 1993. It is the first Spanish Catedral consecrated by a Pope.

It has ever since closely link to the Spanish Royal Family. In November 8 2000, was buried under the altar of the Virgin Mary, the Queen Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans, first wife of king Alfonso XII, whose remains were at El Escorial until the completion of the Cathedral. On May 22 2004, it was the scene of the marriage of Prince of Asturias Felipe of Borbon with Letizia Ortiz . On August 20, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI became the second Pope to visit the Cathedral where he presided over Mass within the events of the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, also, the site of State ceremonies such as the funeral of former Presidents Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in 2008 and Adolfo Suarez in 2014 (the forerunner of the Democracy movement we see today in Spain.

There have been a desired to built a Cathedral here going back to the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. He chose Madrid as his capital. However, the Diocese of Toledo held that right and refuse to change it for many years. It was not until April 4, 1883 that king Alfonso XII finally laid the first stone of a Church of what would be later the Cathedral of Madrid. The idea was just to rebuilt a Church to replace the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena, the oldest in Madrid,  destroyed by fire in 1868. It was built on land ceded in 1879 by Royal heritage of the Queen Maria Mercedes (1860-1878) a devotee of the Virgin of the Almudena, that had died prematurely.

In 1885, Pope Leon XIII decide by a pontifical decree to built a diocese in Madrid so putting an end to the opposition of the archbishops of Toledo. The draft of the new diocese took place in the Church of Saint Isidore until the Cathedral was completed.

The exterior of the Cathedral has as a main nave dome a height of 32 meters a lot more than the 12 meters between the axe of its columns. The dome is gothic in style seen from the interior but baroque from the exterior. It is covered in stone and tiles with an octagonal drum and its four large windows with a small lantern below it. The dome is decorated with 12 statues representing the 12 apostles.

The two towers on the façade , the one on the right is known by the name of Mariana or of Gallegos (Galicians) as the bells were offered by the Galician’s. Both have Marianne names on each tower such as Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Santa Maria de la Paloma, Santa Maria de Atocha, and Santa Maria de la Flor de Lis. On the left tower that gives to the Calle Bailén you find the ringing carillon or bell.

The interior of the Cathedral can be said it is of Latin Cross design consisting of a nave and two wide side halls with three naves. A curve ambulatory with five radical chapels. The altar table is green marble and located in the center of the transept. To the right of it is the Episcopal chair, gothic lines carved in walnut in 1885. Behind the main altar ,you see the chairs of the presbytery with a crucified sculpture of Christ in baroque style done in 1620.

The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of the city has its altar in the transept of the right aisle, opposite the entrance by calle de Bailén. It is a high altar, which can be accessed by two side staircases with bronze handrail. The original sculpture, representing the Virgin with the child in her arms is an image of Gothic style carved in wood. It is positioned in the central niche of the altarpiece, done by the end of the 15C.

You will see about 18 portraits representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with gentle pleasant colors, most of neo gothic style. The image of the Virgin is elevated on a pedestal of silver from the 17C, with candles and glares of the same material. The central chapel on the ambulatory is dedicated to San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza ,whose image is of baroque polychrome carving from the 17-18C ; the funeral coffins are from the 13C. The Chapels on the aisle are dedicated to contemporary Saints such as Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, decorated with sculpture reliefs. Others are Santo Venancio Blanco, Santo Mari Micael of the Blessed Sacrament ; Marian de Jesus de la Providencia, San Maravilla de Jesus, San Angel de la Cruz, San Vicente de Paula, San Luis de Marilla, San Pedro Poveda, Santa Maria Soledad Torre, Santa Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus. All are organise and decorated with images in contemporary style furniture for the most part. At the food of the altar you have a chapel of petinance and the baptismal chapel in white marble from the 18C.

The Cathedral organ is located in the high choir at the foot of the nave back and was done with four keyboards ,pedal keyboard with mechanical and electrical links featuring 16 line pipes with the largest at 11 pipes high. 21 on line pipes for a playing keyboard , and a pedal with 3 more.

It is a must to see in Madrid and a great souvenir of your visit. Do not forget to see the museum(next to Cathedral) , and the Chapel of the Bishop (plaza de la paja s/n) , and the Crypt at Calle Mayor 90( need ask to see it at 12h or midday) , open Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 14h30 only. Normal adult admission is 6€. ticket office is in the main façade of the Cathedral facing the Palacio Real, metro Opera lines 2 and 5 or bus 3 and 148 stop at Calle  Mayor corner with Calle Bailén. More on the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish here: http://museocatedral.archimadrid.es/

The official webpage of the Cathedral is here in Spanish : http://www.catedraldelaalmudena.es/

The tourist office of Madrid has more in English here : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/catedral-de-la-almudena

Enjoy the Almudena and Madrid. You all have a great week ahead ! Cheers

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

 

 

 

 

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