Special Guest Post! Almudena Cathedral: Beautiful and Impressive in the centre of Madrid.
No visit to the Spanish capital city would be complete without exploring the historic delights of Almudena Cathedral, which is located in the very heart of the city. Officially completed in 1993, with construction having started back in 1883.
Indeed, that only tells part of the story of this stunning building. King Philip II originally planned the cathedral, when he made Madrid his capital. The main seat of government had previously been in Toledo, a city that now seems incredibly small by comparison to the present day capital.
Those plans originated back in 1561, meaning that it took more than 400 years for them to come to fruition. Many worshippers and visitors would, however, doubtless suggest that it has been well worth the wait.
The cathedral has a Neo-Gothic design, which was not always popular. There were previous concerns that it would clash with the nearby Royal Palace, with the design having actually been altered significantly once construction was already underway. As a result, Almudena Cathedral contains some elements that take on a more modern appearance.
That location, close by the Royal Palace, means that these two important buildings can both be visited on the same day. Entry to the cathedral is currently free of charge, although a small donation is suggested, in order to contribute to the upkeep of this grand building.
The interior of the cathedral is considered by many visitors to be relatively simple, in contrast to other great churches in Spain. It’s notable, for instance, that it’s considerably more modest than the cathedral in Toledo.
That simplicity creates an enchanting atmosphere, providing a space for contemplation. The dome, at some 20 metres in diameter, towers over the building and seems to dominate the surrounding area.
Since most cathedrals and major churches in Spain tend to be medieval, a visit to Almudena Cathedral offers a relatively rare opportunity to view a truly modern cathedral. It’s interesting to examine the masonry closely and to understand the level of craftsmanship that is required to produce such outstanding results.
The construction also allowed for the inclusion of a number of striking stained glass windows, giving the entire building a distinct lighting effect. Looking up to the interior of the dome, from within the building, it’s possible to appreciate the sheer scale of the building.
It’s possible to scale the dome and to get a wonderful view of the Royal Palace and the city beyond. Some people would suggest that this is the very best view of Madrid.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the crypt represents the oldest section of the cathedral. It contains a 16th century image of the Almudena virgin and the crypts of numerous high profile Spanish families. It is undoubtedly a real highlight of any visit.
The cathedral also has a small museum, which tells the story of the construction of the building, provides information on the surrounding area and also offers details of local archaeological finds. Visitors should note that there is a charge for accessing the museum, but it’s certainly worth the entrance fee, for those wishing to learn more about this extraordinary structure.
The cathedral itself is entered via a relatively low profile side street. Many visitors mistakenly believe that it’s possible to access the building from the side of the structure that is closest to the Royal Palace. You can save yourself time by following the signs, which direct visitors to the correct entrance.
If you’re planning a visit to Madrid, then you may be intending to rely on public transport. This can work well within the city, but should you intend to visit its surrounding areas, arranging a car hire in Madrid will certainly prove beneficial. Having access to a car is a real necessity, if you are hoping to spend time in Toledo and other significant towns.