Real Monasterio de la Encarnacion, Madrid!!!

Well with so much to see and little time, I wanted to show my young men sons the heritage of my youth and later many years of visiting my beloved Madrid. There is so much to see , even me did not realise it before… Now is time to plan for next trip already lol! This is a wonderful spot that on previous visits did not have the will to take many pictures even if inside is prohibited; nevertheless it is worth visiting as one of the jewels of architecture and history of my Madrid! Hope you enjoy it as we did walking to it!

Well it’s time to tell you about the Real Monasterio de la Encarnacion or Royal Monastery of the Incarnation. In Madrid of course! It is located at the plaza de la Encarnacion, 1 less than a km from Puerta del Sol easy walk or metro line 2 to Opera.

The Royal Monastery of the Incarnation is a convent of Augustinian nuns gathered in Madrid . The institution, to which ladies of the high nobility belonged, was founded by Queen Margaret of Austria, wife of King Felipe III, in the early 17C. Due to the artistic collections it houses, it is, together with the Descalzas Reales (see post Aug2018), one of the city’s most prominent temples. It was built between 1611 and 1616, although reformed several times later.

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A bit of history I like

The great promoter of the creation of the monastery was Queen Margarita, which is why the monastery was known among the people of the city as the Margaritas. History tells us that the reason for the construction was to perpetuate the memory and the commemoration of a historical event: the ordinance made by King Felipe III, her husband, of the expulsion of the Moors that were still in Madrid. The monastery was built in the place occupied by the houses of the Marquises of Pozas, from whom the king bought them, due to its proximity to the Royal Alcazar ( Palacio Real) , since thus the kings could enter the church directly through an existing passage. This passage was built at the desire of the queen so as not to cause discomfort, since she frequently visited the monastery. Inside it had several rooms with paintings. The king himself laid the first stone of the monastery, an act that was done with great solemnity and under the blessing of the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas. Months later, on October 3, 1611, the queen died without having seen this work completed in which she worked so hard. On July 2, 1616, day of the Visitation, the monastery and its church were inaugurated.

During the 18C and 19C the history of the monastery continues, full of anecdotes. Thus, for example, it is known that Manuel Godoy, minister of Carlos IV, went every day to the Mass of the church of the monastery taking a walk from his residence, the Palace of the Marquis de Grimaldi (former Ministry of the Navy). In the 19C the religious and composer of Madrid Lorenzo Román Nielfa was a music teacher at the convent, leaving his musical library as a legacy for the Incarnation monastery, which contains works by masters of the 16C and 17C. The monastery was opened to the public in 1965 after a papal dispensation was obtained, to be able to open it for a few hours, and to publicize the artistic works it contains.

A bit on the architecture I like

The highlights the main facade, of severe Herrerian lines. The cover is one of the works that has most influenced Spanish architecture, preceded by the compass, or exterior patio, shows the shields of Queen Margarita and a relief of The Annunciation in marble. The Church has a Latin cross plan. Also interesting is the pre plaza that precedes the front parvis of the church. In the 18C the interior of the church was renovated. The architectural part is carved in jasper, marble and golden bronze. Throughout the entire nave, a series of canvases with the theme of the life of Saint Augustine can be seen, which are complemented by the frescoes in the vault of the main chapel. In the center of the main altarpiece, the painting of the Annunciation can be seen , framed by two pairs of Corinthian columns, and on both sides the images of Saint Augustine and his mother Santa Monica.   The tabernacle has small statues of the Holy Doctors that adorn it, as does the relief of the Savior that the little door has.

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The next room is the painting room, chaired by portraits of the founding monarchs, Felipe II and Margarita of Austria Styria, and among them, the Virgin of Milk, all of them original.  The monastery has an important collection of painting and sculpture highlighting the works of Lucas Jordán, Juan van der Hamen, Pedro de Mena, José de Mora (Dolorosa), and Gregorio Fernández (Cristo Yacente and Cristo tied to the column). In another room, contains a selection of sculpture and Spanish imagination, a phenomenon focused on the 17C, with works related to the passion of Christ. In the Hall of Kings, there are portraits of characters linked to the foundation of the convent Presided by the founding kings, Felipe III and Margarita of Austria Styria , next, his son, who was later King Felipe IV, and his wife Isabel de Bourbon. After Maria Teresa of Austria, daughter of Felipe IV, who was queen of France by marriage to Louis XIV, and is responsible for the advent of the House of Bourbon to the country, because her grandson, Felipe de Anjou, will be the first King Bourbon from Spain, like Felipe V (current today is Felipe VI) . The following picture is another daughter of Felipe IV, this illegitimate, so her destiny was to enter as a nun, as it was the norm of daughters born out of wedlock. The next portrait is of Isabel Clara Eugenia, daughter of Felipe II and his third wife, Isabel de Valois, so she was the founder’s sister, but only as a father, since Felipe III was the son of Anne of Austria, his fourth wife. Isabel Clara Eugenia is dressed as a nun, but never became one. The reason for being dressed like this is that she was widowed, and since then she didn’t take off her habit. The two paintings in the back of the room are of Felipe II and Anne of Austria.

In the Gallery of the Cloister , this is a space belonging to the Clausura, where the nuns walk, but for a few hours they give it up opening it so that it can be known in the outside world. It is all surrounded by paintings by Italian Mannerist painters on the Life of the Virgin and the Passion of Christ, paintings belonging to a complete series, donated to the monastery by Cardinal Antonio Zapata in 1616, on the occasion of the habit by his niece María del Nacimiento, daughter of the Counts of Barajas.   there are in the Cloister a couple of chapels that the nuns or their families founded for them. They are not chapels of worship, because the cult is always in the church, they are chapels for the devotions of the religious. The first is dedicated to the Mystic Lamb, and all the ornaments like candlesticks, the cross, the pavement .etc are from the 17C.

The next Chapel is founded by the Countess of Miranda, the mother of Aldonza de Zúñiga, and is dedicated to the Virgin of Loreto, with a 17C canvas depicting the Virgin of the Annunciation. There is a fresco painting, and images of saints, and a sculpture of Saint John of God, on the altar. The Chorus is the place where the nuns do the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, and where they make their prayers in common. From here, they listen to mass, behind the lattice that separates them from the church. The Reliquary  is perhaps the most enigmatic room and it could be said that it is sinister, since here more than a thousand relics of saints are contained in 700 teak, which are the containers, which we commonly call reliquaries.

The most important teak is the one that contains the blood of San Pantaleón, a martyr of the third century, who is coagulated, in a solid state, and of a dark color, but every year, on July 27, he liquefies, and acquires a color reddish, without scientific explanation. This teak is taken to the church, so that people venerate it, although before taking it out, the mystery is notarized. The mother blister of this blood, is venerated in Italy, in Ravello, where a viceroy of Naples in the time of king Felipe III, sent a part to Spain. In fact, in the Italian city, the same happens with blood, which is liquefied on July 27!   The Sacristy communicates through a lathe, with the sacristy of the nuns. There is a nun who has the position of sacristana, and she is the one in charge of having prepared all the liturgical ornaments that she brings to the priest by this lathe.

It is a Baroque Church, unlike the rest of the monastery, which is in the Herrera style, because the interior was reformed at the request of Bárbara de Braganza, wife of Fernando VI, who wanted to adapt it to the fashion of the moment.  The type of facade is the most characteristic of Madrid’s Baroque, all carved in Berroque stone, unlike the rest of the building that is rigged with alternating brick and flint. It is a rectangle framed by two large smooth vertical pilasters that holds the architrave topped by a pediment pierced by an oculus.

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A wonderful monument that needs more time and pictures. Ther is info at the tourist office here: Tourist office of Madrid on the Monastery of the Incarnation

National Heritage of Spain on ticketing for the Monasterio de la Encarnacion

And there you go another huge monument to be visited is a must at least once in your lifetime. Wonderful architecture details and full of history of Spain and even Europe. Hope you have enjoy my brief tour of the Monasterio de la Encarnacion in Madrid!

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

 

 

 

 

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