Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena
Behind the cathedral apse and down Cuesta de la Vega is a short stretch of the original ‘Arab Wall’, the city wall built by Madrid’s...
You can almost imagine how the eyes of Felipe V, the first of the Bourbon kings, lit up when the alcázar (Muslim-era fortress) burned...
Iglesia de San Nicolás de los Servitas
Tucked away up the hill from Calle Mayor, this intimate little church is Madrid’s oldest surviving building of worship. It is believed...
El Rincón del Arte Nuevo
With more than 30 years in the business, this small venue knows what its punters like and it serves up a nightly feast of...
One of the grande dames of the Madrid restaurant scene, Casa Ciriaco has witnessed attempted assassinations (of King Alfonso XIII in...
Calle de Bailén · interesting places nearby
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena information
Paris has Notre Dame and Rome has St Peter’s Basilica. In fact, almost every European city of stature has its signature cathedral, a stand-out monument to a glorious Christian past. Not Madrid. Although the exterior of the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena sits in harmony with the adjacent Palacio Real, Madrid’s cathedral is cavernous and largely charmless within; its colourful, modern ceilings do little to make up for the lack of old-world gravitas that so distinguishes great cathedrals.
Carlos I first proposed building a cathedral here back in 1518, but building didn’t actually begin until 1879. It was finally finished in 1992 and its pristine, bright-white neo-Gothic interior holds no pride of place in the affections of madrileños (people from Madrid).
It’s possible to climb to the cathedral’s summit, with fine views. En route you climb up through the cathedral’s museum; follow the signs to the Museo de la Catedral y Cúpola on the northern facade, opposite the Palacio Real.
Just around the corner in Calle Mayor, the low-lying ruins of Santa María de la Almudena are all that remain of Madrid’s first church, which was built on the site of Mayrit’s Great Mosque when the Christians arrived in the 11th century.
And just down the hill beneath the cathedral’s southern wall on Calle Mayor is the neo-Romanesque crypt with more than 400 columns, 20 chapels and fine stained-glass windows.