The Cathedral in Madrid

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A brief history

Today’s cathedral in Madrid is very new as it was only consecrated in 1993. And it has a curious history.

Toledo was the capital of Spain until 1561 and of course had a cathedral. In that year the capital moved to Madrid but the priority at the time was to expand the Empire. Incredibly work on a cathedral for the city only started in 1879.

Toledo Cathedral
The 13th century Toledo Cathedral (By Nikthestunned – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A Medieaval mosque stood on the site of the cathedral but it was destroyed in 1083. A small section of Arab walls still remain in the square below the Crypt.

View over Madrid from the cathedral
The ‘Arab’ square below the Crypt

The Civl War in the 1930s interrupted building work (which was very slow) which only restarted in the 1950s. The original plans for the main body of the cathedral were to create a Gothic building. But by now that was believed to be inappropriate. The plans changed to match the exterior of the cathedral to the exterior of the Royal Palace standing opposite the Cathedral.

The Royal Palace in Madrid
The Royal Palace in Madrid

Finally, over a century since planning started, the new cathedral and its crypt were consecrated.

Santa María la Real de la Amudena

Almudena is a feminine word which means ‘the city of Madrid’. So this long name for the cathedral just means it is named after the Virgin Mary and it is in Madrid.

Photography is not allowed inside the cathedral and so I have included a photo from a super blogsite: do visit I found the cathedral very stark and lacking in atmosphere – a strange building.

INside Madrid Cathedral
Interior of Madrid Cathedral (
Madrid Cathedral
The back of the cathedral from the busy main road leading to the Plaza Mayor
From the Cathedral in Madrid looking towards the Guadarrama
On the cathedral balcony and looking towards the Guadarrama
Madrid as seen from the Cathedral
Madrid as seen from the Cathedral
Sculpture on the roof of the cathedral in Madrid
One of the sculptures on the roof of the cathedral

The Crypt

The Crypt opened in 1911, long before the cathedral was completed. It is in Gothic style and quite different to the main body of the building. I like the crypt, which seemed to have more atmosphere and felt more like part of a religious building. I enjoyed wandering around this quiet space.

Inside the crypt of the Cathedral in Madrid

The Cathedral in Madrid is a must-visit but I did not particularly enjoy the building. Perhaps it is one of the those sites which grow on you as you revisit.

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