Church of Calatrava, Madrid!

Well here is another monument of my beloved Madrid that had passed in front many times but never got in. This is an omnipresent tourist area near Puerta del Sol , however, it stays off the beaten path to many. A worthy architectural and historial monument of Madrid and Spain.

Let me tell you a bit more on the Church of Calatrava of Madrid.

The Iglesia de la Concepcion Real de Calatrava or simply Iglesia de las Calatravas or the Church of  Calatrava is the only surviving part of the old Concepción Real convent, of the commander nuns of the Order of Calatrava, located at the beginning of one of the most important streets in Madrid, Calle de Alcalá, a short distance from Puerta del Sol.


The history of the convent is inseparably linked to that of the Calatrava Military Order, founded in the 12C to defend the Christian possessions in the south of the peninsula from Muslim attacks, within the framework of the Reconquest. They soon had female equivalents, of a monastic character, in order to welcome the wives and daughters of those who went to war in the monasteries, and the vocation to help the mission of the Christian knights through prayer and penance. In this way the religious commendators of Calatrava arose, as a feminine branch of the Order of the same name. The nuns of Calatrava in Madrid had first occupied a convent in Almonacid de Zorita province of Guadalajara, a town closely linked to the history of the Order, but in 1623, seeking proximity to the Court, they moved the house to Madrid by order of king Felipe IV . The convent and church buildings were built at that time, soon becoming one of the most popular and crowded religious centers in Madrid. All that splendor lasted just two centuries.

Finally, although the convent building was destroyed, Queen Isabel II had it rebuilt in 1872. Already converted the convent church into a parish, luck wanted it not to suffer too much from the vicissitudes of the Spanish Civil War, keeping its interior almost intact. However, the lack of maintenance and institutional neglect led the monument to a state of serious deterioration during the last decades of the 20C. Finally, at the beginning of the 21C, an ambitious program was undertaken that included intervention both on the external part of the Church of Calatrava such as remodeling of roofs, cleaning of facades and recovery of the original plaster, and on the inside, which was completely restored. Currently, the church is open to visitors outside the hours of liturgical celebrations.

The Church of Calatrava responds to the convent typology of the Spanish Baroque, characterized by volumetric and decorative simplicity. On the ground floor, the church presents an intermediate solution between the basilica and the central layout. The preference of military orders for centralized spaces is striking, perhaps as a demand or need for certain rites or ceremonies that are known, such as the investiture of new knights. The influence of the Escorial models on the general sobriety of the building is evident; the original severity of the exterior, only broken by simple moldings and plaque decoration, was radically transformed in the 19C, when the king consort Francisco de Asís ordered the entire exterior of the church to be decorated in a romantic fashion, In this way, the façade main one, recalling Calle de Alcalá, presents today an ornate appearance, with grouped pilaster strips, scallops, cushioning, graffito, and a curious cornice with stiff taps, all in a Neo- Plateresque style that contrasts strikingly with the architecture. Omnipresent both outside and inside the church is the Cruz de Calatrava, very visible in the rose window that crowns the entrance, formed by a semicircular arch flanked by very flat pilasters with grottoes, the ensemble ending with a niche with a statue of the Virgin.


As passed several times by it each time there was service so not seen the inside yet. However, the interior of the Church of Calatrava is characterized by its luminosity and decorative exuberance The space of the main chapel is perhaps the most outstanding part of the church. The front of the same occupies a spectacular altarpiece made of gilded and polychrome wood, which makes a pendant with two smaller ones located on the transom studs. There is a wonderful retable master altar as well.

This one is one major one to see completely and now more than ever eager to go and see it. The architecture is nice and the history is huge so noted down. Hope you enjoy the brief introduction and do come to see  the Church of Calatrava in Madrid.

The official webpage for the Church of Calatrava is here in Spanish: Official Church of Calatrava

The tourist office of Madrid on the Calatrava Church in English: Tourist office Madrid on Church of Calatrava

Again, Madrid has a world to offer and see architecture and history of Spain, Europe, the Americas, do come and see it. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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