Santa María la Real de La Almudena is Madrid’s Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid.
The seat of the Church used to be located in Toledo, when the city was the capital of Spain. In 1561, King Philip II made Madrid the new capital of the country, and the first plans for Santa María la Real de La Almudena started to be discussed. The idea was to make the Almudena Cathedral the largest one in the world. The construction of the cathedral was postponed for over three centuries due to the costs associated to the expansion of the Spanish empire and the opposition from the archdiocese of Toledo, who wished to remain the seat of the Church.
Santa María la Real de La Almudena
Finally, in 1879, construction of Santa María la Real de La Almudena began, on the site where a medieval mosque used to stand. Francisco de Cubas was the architect responsible for the design of the Gothic Cathedral. The building of the Cathedral started with the crypt. When the Civil War exploded in Spain, the construction of the Cathedral came to halt, being picked up only in 1950. The new phase of construction was lead by architects Fernando Chueca Goitia and Carlos Sidro. The architects respected Francisco de Cuba’s original choice of Gothic style for the cathedral, but decided to also add a touch of Neo-Classicism to the exterior, so that it would better match the Royal Palace.
Construction of Santa María la Real de La Almudena stopped again in 1956, due to a lack of funds and support from Madrid’s City Hall. It was only in 1984, with the help of public and private institutions that works at cathedral started again. Santa María la Real de La Almudena was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993, upon the cathedral’s completion.
Today, Santa María la Real de La Almudena is one of the most important landmarks in Madrid. It is 104 m long and 76 m wide.
Visitors can not only explore the cathedral, but also the museum, which tells the story of Santa María la Real de La Almudena, and also receives temporary exhibits. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 2:30 pm.
Santa María la Real de La Almudena is located at Carrer de Bailén, 8-10. It is open from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm.