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Monastery of las Descalzas Reales

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Lluís Enric Mayans
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In an itinerary of the places of kings and nobles in Madrid, the Monastery of las Descalzas Reales, a hidden treasure behind an austere Plateresque façade in the tourist heart of Madrid. Passing in front of the palace it is difficult to guess the richness of what is hidden inside, a heritage of paintings, tapestries and sacred images of inestimable value.

This palace was originally the home of the kings Charles I and Isabella of Aviz and the birthplace of their daughter Giovanna, who later converted the palace into a convent and would never leave it: her body is in fact buried inside the monastery, in a chapel decorated with a funeral sculpture by the artist Pompeo Leoni.



But who are the Descalzas Reales (Scalze Reali)? It is a group of seventeenth-century noblewomen who chose to retire to this convent following the example of Donna Giovanna, bringing with him a rich trousseau thanks to which today we can admire many works of art. Among the noble guests of this monastery there were also Giovanna d'Asburgo and her sister Maria, who died here in 1603.

Visit to the Monastero de las Descalzas Reales

It is possible to visit the Monastery of the Scalze Reali only with a guided tour, currently only available in Spanish, but it is worth paying the ticket because there are so many wonders that await visitors to the Monastery of the Descalzas Reales.

Already at the entrance you will be amazed by the magnificent Renaissance staircase leading to the upper cloister: raise your eyes to admire the frescoed vault by Claudio coello, an important Spanish artist of the seventeenth century who also worked on the decorations of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial.


During the visit you will be able to enter many of the 33 chapels inside the monastery, the total number of which is perhaps a reference to the age in which Christ died. The interior of the building was renovated in the XNUMXth century, but the enclosed part still retains the structure and many decorative elements of the original Plateresque palace.



The highlight of the monastery's artistic heritage is an extraordinary collection of tapestries woven in Brussels in the seventeenth century on designs by Rubens, of such quality that it took four craftsmen a year to produce a single square meter of tapestry. The tapestries were commissioned for the monastery by Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, Governor of the Netherlands and daughter of Philip II.


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