Museum of the Cistercian Convent of San Bernardo ,Alcalá de Henares!

So let me swing back at my beloved Spain, and tell you a bit on a highly cultural city near my beloved Madrid. I have several posts on Spain, Madrid, and even  Alcalà de Henares but darn have not written a deserving post on this museum. Therefore, here is my take on it.

I would like to tell you a bit more on the Museum of the Cistercian Convent of San Bernardo for the long official name, simply for short a Religiuos Arts museum. It is located in Alcalà de Henares, in the region of the Comunidad de Madrid.

alcala de henares

alcala de henares

The Cistercian Convent of San Bernardo in Alcalá de Henares was founded in 1613 by Cardinal Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas. The Plaza de las Bernardas (square) formed by the Convent of the Mother of God, the Archiepiscopal Palace and the Convent of San Bernardo constituted during the rebirth an engine of urban transformation of this zone of the city, that previously was the Arab district during the Middle Ages.

Cistercian Convent of San Bernardo, was destined to a Cistercian community of nuns, popularly called “Bernardas “. The patron of the work was the Cardinal and Archbishop of Toledo Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas, a great reformer of artists and writers of fame such as Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Góngora and Miguel de Cervantes. The works began in 1617, in the old Plaza de la Verdura (vegetable), inside the Moslem district of the medieval Alcalá. Leaving the old Puerta de Burgos(gate) inside the garden of the convent and making disappear the old Calle de Segovia; So it had to build the current gate of Calle Santiago , which also has a statue of St. Bernard (San Bernardo).

The convent suffered many malfunctions in the fire of 1939, so several restoration works were carried out in the following decades. The closing of the Bernardas nuns was finished in 2000, leaving the building today as a Museo de Arte Religioso (religious art museum). In 2013 the Casa de la   Demandadera (house) and the lesser Cloister of the Convent of San Bernardo was restored, hosting an exhibition hall and the diocesan residence.

A bit on the construction

Its main facade, of curtain type with a central line decoration from top to bottom, separated in three bodies and finished in red brick, corresponds to the classic model of the Complutense Baroque, in which the use of the brick is combined as constructive material with the cover stone. In the central niche, on the door, appears the image of the titular Saint Bernard of Clairvaux surrounded by large shields of the founder Cardinal Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas and mirrors. The different bodies are traversed by an impost with three parallel and horizontal inscriptions describing the historical characters of the moment and the dedication of the convent. The church, with elliptical floors and six side chapels, of which the diagonals repeat the model of the great central space, covered by a superb dome with a false vault , equally oval, the largest in its kind made in Spain. The exempt Baldachin, where the tabernacle is located, is located in front of the main altar. At the closing there are two cloisters, the convent file and the chapter house.

In January 1997 the Museum of the Cistercian Convent of San Bernardo of Alcalá de Henares was inaugurated, with headquarters in the Convent of the Bernardas. It consists of an important collection of Italian paintings from the 17C, the work of master Angelo Nardi. It stands out in the Presbytery of the church an exempt altarpiece or baldachin made of wood stewed and polychrome, raised by Francisco Bautista, at the time the architect of the Collegiate Church of San Isidro in Madrid. The silver and ebony ark of Emperor Carlos V, ordered done by his son king Felipe II, with beautiful embossments representing victorious scenes of the emperor. The armchair of Cardinal Sandoval is a unique piece of its kind, in which the carpentry is mixed with the jewellery, enriched the piece with the inlay of rock crystals decorated as if they were gemstones. In the closing is guarded a beautiful size of the immaculate, by Antonio de Herrera Barnuevo.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Alcala de Henares on the Plaza de las Bernardas

Tourist office of Alcala de Henares on the convent museum

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on the convent museum

And there you go, all set for a nice visit on a beautiful architectural building and in a very nice square with full of things to see some already mentioned in my blog. Enjoy the Museum of Religious Art of Alcalà de Henares!

And remember, happy travels good health and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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