The Church of San Jerónimo el Real, popularly known as “Iglesia de los Jerónimos,” is actually a parish that arises from the heart of one of the most influential monasteries in the history of Madrid. It is an architectural jewel and a living testimony of its past.
The historical link of San Jerónimo el Real
The history of the parish is linked to the Monastery of San Jerónimo and, therefore, is closely linked to the history of Madrid for having been part of the life of the Court and the monarchy. Enrique IV de Trastámara founded in 1464 the Monastery of Santa María del Paso, on the banks of the Manzanares River, on the road to El Pardo, which stands as a witness to royalty and aristocracy.
Later, in 1503, and due to the insalubrity of the area, Queen Isabella the Catholic granted the monks a new settlement, east of the town of Madrid, marking its current location that we see in the photograph, and that marks the location of the original monastery, whose remains remain in the parish (the only Gothic building in Madrid) and in the recently restored convent (and incorporated into the Prado Museum).
Although the original monastery has suffered wear and tear throughout the nineteenth century, the Church of San Jerónimo el Real emerges as a guardian of Madrid’s historical memory.
Hence, we include it in the basic itinerary to visit Madrid in one day.
Exploring the church of San Jerónimo el Real
The Jerónimos Church stands out for its unique exterior in Madrid, which, despite transformations and restorations, has maintained its style over the centuries. Located in a slight relief, its majesty rises above the city. It is of late Gothic style, and its structure is built on a Latin cross plan with a central nave, transept, and five chapels on each side.
As you can observe, it was rebuilt largely during the nineteenth century; the façade and the twin towers framing the main chapel attest to this work. A significant milestone was the construction of the monumental staircase in 1906, on the occasion of the wedding of Alfonso XIII with Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg.
Its beauty lies in its antiquity, its style, and its history. Since 1925, the church of San Jerónimo el Real has been a national monument and shelters valuable works of art inside, such as “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Francisco Rizi.
The Cloister of the Monastery of San Jerónimo el Real is nicknamed “The Cube of Moneo” for its external appearance. Its actual appearance is due to its restoration and its incorporation into the Prado Museum through a tunnel designed by Rafael Moneo. The entrance to the museum allows you to access and admire this cloister.
In consequence, you have more information about the incorporation of the Cloister to the Museum in this link to the Prado Museum.
The Monastery in the history of Madrid
Despite not being the capital of the kingdom at its foundations, Madrid housed the royal family in the monastery, as they spent long periods in the city. It was in that epic that the enclave began to become popular and began to be called the Prado de los Jerónimos, which finally ended up becoming what we know today as the Paseo del Prado.
The Church of San Jerónimo el Real has been the protagonist of transcendental and important events in Spanish history, from oaths of heirs to the crown, such as Felipe II in 1528 or Isabel II in 1833, to the wedding of Alfonso XIII in 1906 and the coronation of Juan Carlos I in 1975.
To know more, and if you want to know the schedules and how to get there, you can access this information on the portal City Council of the Community of Madrid.
Exploring the surroundings of the Jerónimos Church
The surroundings of the Church of the Jerónimos house a rich heritage of Madrid, such as Buen Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace, the Prado Museum, the Puerta de Alcalá, and the Plaza de Cibeles. We recommend this itinerary for visiting Madrid in 1 day, these tips for your first visit to Madrid, or the top 10 most visited places in Madrid.