The Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena, known as the Almudena Cathedral, is for many an architectural jewel, while for others, it is an eclectic-style construction with a mixture of styles and periods.

But beyond that, carved into its walls and alcoves you can see history itself. Located in Madrid de los Austrias, next to the Royal Palace and close to other tourist destinations such as Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Theater, it is one of the 10 most visited places in Madrid that, of course, we recommend you to visit. 

The Almudena Cathedral starts in 1883

The first plans were drawn up in 1879 by the Marquis Francisco de Cubas, a famous architect of the time, but it was not until 1883, under the reign of King Alfonso XII, that its construction began, which would take 114 years to be completed.    

With the creation of the Bishopric of Madrid, in 1885 the project became a cathedral. It was then that the architect Francisco de Cubas , taking cathedrals such as Reims, León and Chartres as examples, embarked on a more ambitious vision, but due to low resources, construction took longer than expected.

In June 1993 it was completed and consecrated by Pope John Paul II on one of his trips to Spain, becoming the first cathedral consecrated outside Rome.

Architectural styles of the Cathedral

Madrid Cathedral has been a victim of both the passage of time and aesthetic whims, which has resulted in the different architectural styles seen today. 

Its first constructive stage was the construction of the crypt, in Neo Romanesque style. The exterior, specifically the main façade, clearly shows the neoclassical style , which highlights the time it took to build. The interior has a Neo Gothic style, with simple finishes.            

Likewise, the interior has decorative objects that emphasize the modern style, such as the large and colourful stained glass windows, which tones are enhanced by the gray of the structure.

What to see in the Almudena Cathedral

The Almudena Cathedral consists on three main naves and many side chapels.  A curious feature is its orientation, which is from North to South, unlike most cathedrals, which orientation is from East to West.

Interior of the cathedral

You will enter through a huge bronze portico, at the back, on the altar, you will see the image of Santa María la Real de la Almudena in a colourful altar. On the sides, two rows of robust ash gray columns. Go quietly through its naves, contemplate its spaces and chapels.

Inside the vault of the cathedral, you can find paintings by Kiko Argüello, a famous Catholic painter native to Spain who, with his Neo-Byzantine style, shows us some of the most iconic moments in the life and passion of Christ. These paintings, raised at the beginning of the dome, give it a touch of color that many more “traditional” cathedrals lack.

The organ is inspired by Gothic altarpieces, built by the builder Gerhard Grenzing in 1999. This amazing organ has 70 voices, which produces a deep and enveloping sound.

Museum and dome of the cathedral

Several pieces of incalculable artistic, historical and religious value are exhibited in the museum. Without a doubt, something that you cannot miss during your visit to the Almudena Cathedral. You can make use of the free audio guide, to listen to the explanations, using the Wi-Fi network on your mobile phone.

The ascent to the apse is impressive. Halfway up the climb, you will find the Mirador de la Almudena, from which you have a view of the Plaza de la armería del Palacio Real. Here you can also see an impressive model of the first project of the cathedral.

Arriving to the top, outside the dome, you can enjoy Madrid as far as the eye can see, in a 360° panoramic view. That is why it is one of the best viewpoints in Madrid.  

The crypt of the cathedral

The Almudena Cathedral is built on a beautiful crypt. In it there are about 20 chapels adorned with stained glass windows from the Maumejean house.

One of the most precious and oldest pieces is the image of Our Lady of the Flor de Lis, the Virgin in Madrid which was ordered to be painted by Alfonso VI, before the figure of the Virgin of Almudena was found buried. She had been hidden to protect it from the Moors at the time of the conquest.

For information on schedules and rates, or how to get there, you have this link on the Almudena Cathedral website.

What else to see in Madrid

You are in the downtown area, you have the Royal Palace and the Crypt as well as the Change of the Guard.  From this location you can start the post about visiting Madrid in one day. You might also be interested in these tips for your first visit to Madrid or some of the places you should not miss on your second visit to Madrid.

Our accommodations in Madrid

In this area we have apartments by months in the Centro area, apartments by months in the Retiro area and at a quieter and less touristic area you can consider the apartments by months in the Salamanca district.

For a short stay we have  apartments by days next to Calle Serrano and Paseo de la Castellana, in the Escultor Building and accommodation by category: list of apartments for companies or our list of apartments for students .          

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