Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales of Madrid!!

One of the most emblematic monuments of my beloved Madrid and on a nice old neighborhood ,, this is my Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, a wonderful architecturally but hugely historical monastery. Right in the middle of the city you find this hugely important building for the history of Spain, and I like to tell you a bit more on it . Hope you enjoy it as I.

I came back as a visitor, maybe more curious of what I had around me, found out, there was a lot and of course with more money to enjoy these things. I came here and was completely amazed of the beauty, the history, and the care peaceful ways of this place. I came back with the family and each time is memorable; a must to visit in Madrid. If you like museums and go the golden triangle of Madrid, well ,do come here,point. I am talking about the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, with parking underground right across The Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your time in Madrid!!

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Let me tell you briefly the long history of this wonderful spot in Madrid.

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Visitation, located in Madrid and better known as the Royal Barefoot, is a monastery of cloistered nuns, Clarisas Coletinas, founded in 1559 by Juana of Austria, daughter of king Charles V and Isabella of Portugal , widow of Prince Juan Manuel of Portugal, sister of the King of Spain Felipe II and mother of the future Portuguese King Don Sebastián. It is located in the heart of Madrid, in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Celenque and Calle de Preciados. It is a 16C classicist building that houses in its interior important works of art. Part of the monastery is currently dedicated to museum that you can visit.

Here and in front of the building of the monastery was proclaimed on several occasions the Kings and hailed to the princess  of Asturias, raising for the occasion a plank and a canopy. In the 19C was placed in the middle of the square the source of the Mariblanca that was previously in the Puerta del Sol and that today is in the interior of the Casa de la Villa, (at the Puerta del Sol there is a replica at present). Today you can see two statues, one in bronze dedicated to Francisco Piquer in homage to his work of creation of the Monte de Piedad. Another dedicated to the Marquis of Pontejos (Joaquín Vizcaino).. See post on Puerta del Sol.

The chronicles mention that in 1339 the first courts in Madrid were held in this palace. (in the Plateresque courtyard of the cloister of the monastery, the shields of an unknown nobleman are preserved as testimony.) In the 16C, the former palace that had been mentioned belonged to the Imperial Treasurer Alonso Gutiérrez of Madrid, who on more than one occasion gave shelter to the emperor Charles I. In this House several children were born among them the smallest, Juana, who later founded in the same site this monastery of the Descalzas Reales (Royal barefoot).  Juana  of Austria was the founder of the monastery of the Royal barefoot. In 1559, the day of the assumption took place the grand opening party of the monastery, even though the church was still not built. There was a solemn procession in which king Felipe II and the whole Royal family participated. In 1564 the Church was completed and the Holy Sacrament was placed on the main altar on the day of Conception.

In 1580 the monastery accomodated Mary of Austria, widow of the Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg, who arrived with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Margaret. The Empress adopted the Community regime and her daughter professed as a nun Mary of Austria died on February 21, 1603, asking in her will to be buried at the foot of the altar of the garden prayer, in the low cloister, with a plain stone and smooth as a headstone. Thirteen years later Felipe III moved the corpse to a luxurious sepulcher made of marble and bronze, placed in the choir of the church.

.The Archduchess Marguerite of Austria, who became Sister Marguerite of the Cross, died there in 1633. She is buried in the monastery, as her mother the Empress Mary of Habsburg , daughter of Emperor Charles V and wife of Emperor Maximilian II as well as Princes Alphonse , François  and Gonzalve  of Bourbon, elders of the descendants of the kings of France.  In 1559, the day of the assumption the community of Coletinas entered at last in the monastery, in solemn procession. Throughout history were several nuns of Royal Blood, besides Juana of Austria and Mary of Austria.

These were: Infanta Margarita, daughter of Mary of Austria,  Infanta Ana Dorotea of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Rudolph II, who took the habit at the age of twelve and died in 1694 with eighty two years;  Infanta Maria de la Cruz and Austria, who died in 1715, with seventy four years,  Infanta Catalina Maria de Este, daughter of the princes of Modena, granddaughter of the Infanta Catherine and the Duke of Savoy, who took the habit at eight years of age in 1622 and died in 1628 without age of profess.

Margaret of the Cross, daughter of John Joseph of Austria, granddaughter by paternal line of Felipe IV and by maternal line of the painter José de Ribera. She entered the convent at the age of five and left its habits on September 17, 1681 coinciding with the second anniversary of her father’s death. On September 3, 1715 King Felipe V dictated a royal decree that granted the perpetual title of Grande de España to all the abbess of the Barefoot.:(Descalzas).

During the Spanish Civil War the monastery was deprived of its community. However, he was cared for and protected, putting its works of art safely. They fell on it some bombs which produced malfunctions mostly in the vault of the staircase and in the choir which was destroyed. The restoration was carried out during the same years of the war when, among other things, the deteriorated roof tile was changed by a new slate. After the war, the nuns came back. In the middle years of the 20C was built in the square of the barefoot an underground parking (I park here too) whose works affected the building slightly. On this occasion it was restored and consolidated, conditioning some of its dependencies to be visited on a tour.

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Some of the things to see inside the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales are

The Cloister of this monastery (or closing yard) is famous for the processions that take place in it during the Holy Week, especially the one of Good Friday, in which the holy burial leaves, with old music of the time of the foundation of the monastery. In this event procession a Christ recumbent of Gaspar Becerra that is carried to rods (without urn). They are used for the occasion (as in the procession of the Corpus Christi) rich liturgical clothes and sometimes hang in the walls of the four pandas of the cloister the tapestries with the theme of the Eucharistic Apotheosis, produced in the Flemish looms of Raes and Geubels. The courtyard has a total of sixty six pieces of marble. The shafts of the columns are cylindrical and slender and show an influence of the Sevillian palaces

The ornamentation of the great staircase, with mural paintings and on canvas, was carried out in different eras. The second section depicts the royal balcony, with the Kings Felipe IV and his wife Mariana of Austria, with the Infanta Maria and the Prince Felipe prosper, indicating that there was to be carried out before 1661, date of the death of the latter.

Capilla del Milagro , this Chapel of the Miracle, and decoration was done on the wishes of  Juan José de Austria, step brother of king Carlos II (you can see the inscription on site) that had a daughter born outside marriage in the Monastery, Margarita de la Cruz , sister profess in 1666(Marguerite of the Cross).

The majestic classic building houses a museum of major works of art . Among the many relics on display are putatively pieces from Christ’s Cross and the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian’s Caesar’s Money, tapestries woven to designs by Rubens, and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.  The museum collection also includes such rarities as portraits of Royal children of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the late 16C referring to Polish–Spanish relations that inspired Calderón’s La Vida es Sueño (Life is a dream). Portraits of the son and daughter of King Sigismund of Poland were painted by Martin Kober in 1596 and were sent as a gift to King Philip III of Spain. A wonderful historical arts museum that need to be seen!

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip ,and a must to see are:

The Madrid tourist office on the Monastery: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/monasterio-de-las-descalzas-reales

The National Heritage of Spain on the Monastery: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/visita/monastery-las-descalzas-reales

Again, see it and come back to tell me otherwise. The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is a gem to be seen by all. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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