SANTA MARIA LA REAL DE LA ALMUDENA


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Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid
March 11th 2012
Published: March 11th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a fan of the monarchs – be it the British, Swedish or Bhutanese.

So when Prince Felipe of Spain, chose to marry Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on May 22, 2004 at the Cathedral of Almudena, the church not only added another milestone event in its history, but it also increased dramatically the number of tourists and aficionados (like me) who wanted to take a glimpse of the cathedral where the Royal Weddingtook place.

The Virgin of Almudena (Virgen de la Almudena) is just one of the two patron saints of Madrid. The other one is St. Isidore the Laborer (San Isidro Labrador).

The Cathedral of the Virgin is located at Calle Bailen, 10. It is situated next to the Palacio Real. In fact, its main entrance faces the palace, which I think was one of the factors why the Prince chose the cathedral for his wedding.

A little bit of history… to better appreciate the place (and make you look smarter, too):

The very first written account about the cathedral was in 9th century. Upon the instruction of Mohammad I of Cordoba, a citadel was built near the palace, which is now the Palacio Real. That citadel is called Al-Mudayna, the Arabic term for citadel.

Legends say that in the year 712, the residents of Madrid hid the image of the Virgin Mary inside the walls surrounding the town from the advancing Muslim forces. When Madrid was reconquered by King Alfonso VI of Castile in the 11th century, the Christian soldiers had a vision of the Virgin Mary and attempted to find the statue. After days of prayer, a miraculous crumbling of the wall revealed the statue.

In 1561, when the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid, the seat of the church remained in Toledo. Madrid, the new capital, had no cathedral. Plans were made to build a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena on the site of the citadel that was destroyed in 1085. The construction, however, did not begin until 1879.

Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, designed and directed the construction in a Gothic revival style. The construction ceased completely during the Spanish Civil War and was abandoned until 1950. Fernando Chueca Goitia continued the plans of Cubas and matched the grey and white façade of the Palacio Real.

The cathedral was finally completed in 1993 in time for its consecration by Pope John Paul II.

Insider’s Tip: Plan your visit ahead. Check out the schedule below to coincide your visit to the church with the museum opening.

Church Schedule:
Church is open from 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (no break)
Mass: Monday to Saturday: 12 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sundays and holiday: 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m.

Summer Schedule (July and August):
Church is open from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (no break)
Mass: Monday to Saturday: 12 p.m., 8 p.m.
Sundays and holidays: 12 p.m., 8 p.m.

Church’s phone number: 91-542 22 00

The Cathedral’s museum is located at Plaza de la Almudena s/n, Madrid 28071

Museum Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and days of religious obligations
Ticket Prices: € 6 (proceeds used to support the Cathedral)
The tour includes a visit to the museum, chapterhouse, and sacristy plus a spectacular view of the city from the dome of the Cathedral.


Most of the time this inscription on top of the statue of Saint Peter in front of the Catedral de la Almudena is not being noticed by visitors. It is the statue’s fine detail that says, ‘Peter, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ – Matthew 16:19


Part of the Cathedral’s neo-gothic design are the enormous pillars and the intricate ceiling panels. The church’s organ is equally striking


The elaborate architectural design of the Cathedral’s facade

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