Due north of Plaza Mayor, San Ginés is one of Madrid’s oldest churches: it has been here in one form or another since at least the 14th century. What you see today was built in 1645 but largely reconstructed after a fire in 1824. The church houses some fine paintings, including El Greco’s Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple (1614), which is beautifully displayed; the glass is just 6mm from the canvas to avoid reflections.
The church has stood at the centre of Madrid life for centuries. It is speculated that, prior to the arrival of the Christians in 1085, a Mozarabic community (Christians in Muslim territory) lived around the stream that later became Calle del Arenal and that their parish church stood on this site. Spain’s premier playwright Lope de Vega was married here and novelist Francisco de Quevedo was baptised in its font.