Walking past the enormous Royal Palace on Bailén street, the church next door almost seems like a miniature building in comparison. It is only when you enter the cathedral that you realize the size of it. The ceiling is high above you, the aisles are spacious, and since there is a lot of light entering the cathedral, thanks to its location with an unobstructed western side, the feeling of space is all around you. While the building gives the impression of a classical Gothic cathedral, a closer, more careful look will reveal that this is actually a modern cathedral. Colourful patterns decorate the ceiling, some of the stained glass windows have a modern-art feel, and the apse has brightly coloured decorations strikingly different from what you find in most churches.
Still, the setting could well be a classical Gothic cathedral that you could see in many places. Looking around gives surprises, the mixture of conventional and older religious art with modern touches makes Almudena Cathedral a unique one. At the northern side, high up in the building, you can see an enormous modern organ. A little further, in the epistle-side transept of the cathedral of Madrid, you will find a 16th century altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena. This richly decorated, traditional altar contrasts sharply with the modern elements found elsewhere. It was originally made for a cathedral, but finished four centuries before the cathedral would finally be finished.
Unlike many other cities in Europe, the cathedral of Madrid is actually a new building. Once the site of a mosque and a church dedicated to one of the patron saints of Madrid, Santa María de la Almudena, it took several centuries before construction of the cathedral was actually started in the 19th century. Even then, it took some 100 years before it was completed, and the cathedral was consecrated only in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. In fact, if you think the statue in front of the main entrance looks familiar, it is: it is a statue of that same pope. He is also represented on one of the enormous doors decorated with sculptures, another example of modern-day version of classical religious elements.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Almudena Cathedral (Spain). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Almudena Cathedral. Read more about this site.