Open to the public for only twenty years, the Almudena Cathedral it is the main church of the archdiocese of Madrid and one of the most visited churches in the city.
Although the official inauguration is so recent, the history of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena - this is its full name - dates back to over a century ago. In fact, it took more than 100 years from the laying of the first stone to the completion of the work, and the first project for the construction of a cathedral in Madrid dates back to 1518.
The result of the various projects that have followed one another in the construction of the church, of rethinking and changes in the course of construction is a curious mix of architectural styles that divides visitors into two categories: some find it magnificent, others in bad taste.
The unanimous opinion, however, is that the Madrid cathedral you deserve to be visited for its uniqueness and for the fame it has, rightly or not, earned.
What to see at the Almudena Cathedral
THEexterior of the Almudena Cathedral, of neoclassical inspiration, it blends perfectly with the splendor of the surrounding buildings, first of all the sumptuous Palazzo Real.
This does not prepare tourists for the more sober neo-gothic style of theinternal, with numerous contemporary details that betray the recent construction of the church. Some visitors complain about the lack of a long tradition, which is expected to be found in other famous European cathedrals; others find the paintings on the windows of the apse of dubious aesthetic taste.
Interesting is the Cathedral Museum conceived as a path through ecclesiastical life through the seven sacraments. Inside are preserved the statues of the Madonna dell'Almudena and Sant'Isidoro l'Agricoltore. Not to be missed is also the crypt in neo-Romanesque style, completed as early as 1911.
You can climb to the top of the cathedral to enjoy one panoramic view of Madrid, as you leave the cathedral, turn the corner into Calle Mayor and a short distance away you can admire the remains of the first church of the Spanish capital, which was in turn built on the remains of a previous mosque.
The complex history of the Cathedral
Telling the history of the Almudena Cathedral in detail would be a bit too long: there are many setbacks that have slowed down the construction of the church over the centuries and the sources differ in tracing the historical evolution of this building.
A certain date is that of 1883, the year in which the first stone was laid, but two years later the church project was changed to a more ambitious one. Perhaps too much: the donations received for the construction of the church proved insufficient and the work dragged on for years without conclusion.
The situation was further complicated with the outbreak of the civil war and the works resumed decisively only from 1950, with numerous changes to the original project to meet the aesthetic standards that had changed in the meantime.
The Almudena Cathedral was officially inaugurated on June 15 1993 da Pope John Paul II during his fourth trip to Spain.
It was an exceptional event: for the first time in history the pope traveled specifically to consecrate a church outside of Rome. It can certainly be said that even the Cathedral of Madrid, like Rome, was not built in a day.