Madrid – Almudena Cathedral

Madrid hasn’t always been the capital of Spain, and it took some considerable time for the church to arrange to build a cathedral in the city. It built many in the Americas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but this one took it a little longer.

The construction work started in 1881 when the foundations for the building were started. Land was given to the church by the neighbouring Royal Palace, meaning that it had an important city location. So, the civil engineers got going to build the cathedral, and then the money ran out. It took until 1911 to construct the crypt, but that was sufficient for services to at least be held.

Work didn’t progress any faster after they finished the crypt. The Spanish civil war started and very little work was undertaken during that period, but in 1950 it was decided to speed things up again. So, it had taken 70 years for the civil engineers and the church to manage to build anything other than the crypt.

But, with the help of the local council, it all started happening again. The nave was covered and completed by 1961 and the city residents looked forwards to having a cathedral that they could be proud of. Then the politicians of Madrid City Council got themselves involved with the process, and then the project stopped again because it ran out of money.

It wasn’t until 1984 that work started again to complete the building, more than a century after they had commenced the construction. With a huge burst of energy, it was completed nine years later and in 1983 Pope John Paul II consecrated it.

The impressive bronze doors.

The exterior of this building is beautiful, this is the view from the Royal Palace side of the cathedral.

The cathedral’s grand nave, which is filled with light.

The altar of Virgen de la Almudena, which has an altar dating to the fifteenth century.

The organ, which was built and put together by Gerhard Grenzing.

The Gothic chest of Saint Isidro, which dates from the thirteenth century and came from the Archbishop’s Palace.

It’s certainly a very grand building, and surprising that it took so long for the work to be completed, although it was at least finished before the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, which they’re still faffing about with (although that’s a basilica and not a cathedral).

There’s no entrance charge, although a donation of €1 is requested, and a reasonable number of people seemed to be paying it. I particularly liked the display boards that gave some of the history of the building, it helped put numerous elements into perspective.

There were also private areas for those wanting to go to pray quietly or who wanted to go to confession. It felt very much a working cathedral and there was a relaxed and calm atmosphere to the interior of the building, although that was slightly marred by someone with the loudest camera I’ve heard in some time.

I didn’t unfortunately get the chance to visit the adjoining crypt on this occasion, I’ll have to hope that I get to come back to Madrid at some point in the future.