The Almudena, Madrid´s  Cathedral

Due to the way in which it was built, the cathedral of Madrid, the Cathedral of La Almudena has received critics. Some claim it has no real style. This can be well true, but its dimensions and some of the things we find inside it make it with no doubt one of the top attractions in Madrid!


Unlike most cathedrals, the orientation of the Almudena is North-South (instead of East-West). The reason for this is connected to the Royal Palace. The temple was originally conceived as part of the Royal Palace complex. As a matter of fact, its main facade faces the southern facade of the Palace.

Besides the Cathedral, you can also pay a visit to its museum, access the dome to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of Madrid. Another “secret” thing to do is to visit the neo-romanesque crypt in the lower part of the cathedral.

The Marques de Cubas, a famous character in Spain´s history, designed and started building the cathedral in the late XIXth century, but his project was modified by the architects Fernando Chueca and Carlos Sidro in 1944 to accommodate the dimensions of the Royal Palace. You can find below the top suggestions to visit the Cathedral of Madrid and also anecdotes about is history and how it was finalised in only 10 years!

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Best way to visit the Almudena Cathedral

There are many things to enjoy during a visit to Madrid and selecting what to visit becomes increasingly complex if you enjoy just a two-day trip to Madrid

The Cathedral is located just next to the famous Royal Palace. This makes visiting the Cathedral very convinient indeed.

Our recommendation is to start the visit to the Cathedral with the museum. To access the museum you have to go to the main façade of the temple (the one that faces the Plaza de la Armeria at the Royal Palace. You will find the Sacristy, and then get to the upper terrace of the from where you will enjoy the best views of the Royal Palace! On this floor, there are two long galleries where the museum’s artworks are exhibited.

After having visited the museum it is time to get to the dome. On the way to the dome, you will admire an impressive model of the first project for the cathedral. The architect Francisco de Cubas was responsible for this initial project back in the late 19th century.

From its outdoor terrace, you will get a good perspective of different areas of Madrid.

The visit to the Cathedral of Madrid would follow. The Almudena Cathedral was built in the neo-Gothic style. It has a Latin cross plan with a central nave and two lateral naves. The transept is wide and it is topped on one side by the chapel of the Virgin. One of the most popular things amongst local visitors is a staircase to get a closer glimpse of the virgin.
Something we particularly enjoy most about La Almudena is the contrast (a very unusual one in Spain where most of the important cathedrals date back to Gothic times) between the neo-Gothic architectural style and the colorful decoration. The four most important elements inside the Cathedral are the Abside, the stained glass windows and especially the great Altar of the Virgen de la Almudena, and the chapel dedicated to San Isidro and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza. San Isidro is the patron of the city of Madrid. The city enjoys the traditional San Isidro festival during the month of May in honor of its patron.

The final step during your visit should be the crypt. To access the crypt you will need to access it through the entrance at Cuesta de la Vega. The crypt was the first element of the cathedral.

History and anecdotes

Although the Almudena Cathedral that we find today is a very modern building for cathedral standards, its history is rooted deep in time. It dates back to no less than the year 711 when, due to the Muslim invasion, the legend says the few inhabitants that occupied the area (it was certainly not Madrid then!) hid in one of the stones of the city wall an image of the Virgin whom they called “Santa María de La Vega ”, or also“ La Concepción Admirable ”. It seems that this was made at a small old temple located where the cathedral stands today. During the Arab invasion, that temple became a mosque, and four long centuries had to pass before Alfonso VI reconquered the territory. According to legend, the King called a procession through the area where it was believed that the image of the Virgin had been hidden. Miraculously, stones collapsed and exposed the image.

The construction of the Cathedral began in 1883 (late when we compare this date with most Spanish cathedrals)  At that time Alfonso XII was king. It took however 110 years to get it finished. The cathedral we find today is very different from the original project of Francisco de Cubas (his neogothic project can be enjoyed in the model exposed inside the cathedral) . The marquis of Cubas died in 1911 and a new project for the cathedral had to wait to 1944. The architects in charge designed a cathedral that would co-exist in better harmony with the neighboring Royal Palace. The height of the original plan was considerably reduced but construction did not start till 1950 (those were not easy times for Spain!) By 1983 there was still lots to do and at the time an effort was made with the creation of a consortium that gathered both private and public institutions. The cathedral of la Almudena was consecrated by Pope John Paul II during one of his trips to Spain. A statue of John Paul II is located next to the eastern entrance.

Almudena Cathedral- Video

Other attractions near The Almudena Cathedral

Due to its strategic location, the Almudenada cathedral is close to some of the city´s top attractions. We have copied below four of the sights that make sense to include in your itinerary. we recommend you pay a visit to our Madrid travel guide to discover more ideas to make the most of your trip.

Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de Oriente- Madrid

The Plaza de Oriente is one of the most beautiful squares in a city where there are many plazas, and many of them are fantastic. The Plaza de Oriente is next to the imposing Royal Palace of Madrid. Many people pay a visit to La Plaza de Oriente simply on their way to the palace, but it is worth spending a bit of time in this fresh and historical icon of Madrid. This beautifully laid

Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel- a foodies paradise in Madrid

The Mercado de San Miguel Designed by the architect Alfonso Dube y Diez, the Mercado de San Miguel was inaugurated on the 31st of May 1916 but now totally re-done by Juan Manuel Alarcon. This market has all types of food from the land and the sea, and you can enjoy eating it in the magical interior with metal, crystal and ceramic frames. It is beautiful, but many locals believe it has become too touristic and

Madrid Rio

Madrid Rio- Madrid

Madrid Rio. The park with the best views in Madrid Madrid Rio´s very long path starts in the Puente de Los Franceses and runs a few miles until you reach the Matadero area. A large number of trails makes it very pleasant to walk, and by the time you’re done walking one trail or another, it could add up to about 10 kilometers. It offers breath-taking views of the Madrid Royal Palace and the Almudena

La Esquina del Real

La Esquina del Real – French restaurant in Madrid next to the Royal Palace

La Esquina del Real – Review La Esquina del Real is an excellent French restaurant in Madrid at a fantastic location.. This cute little restaurant, run by chef Jesús, is reminiscent of a Parisian bistró. If you want to enjoy good French cuisine in Madrid, La Esquina del Real restaurant is a perfect restaurant. La Esquina del Real opened in 91 by the hand of the renowned chef Marcel Margossian tanned in French and Swiss

Other Cathedrals located near Madrid

Madrid is located at less than 1-hour drive of some of the most amazing medieval cities in Spain. As a matter of fact, many visitors to Madrid enjoy day tours to Toledo and Segovia, where 2 fantastic Gothic cathedrals are found. Toledo and Segovia are unique, but there are many other fascinating day trips you can enjoy from Madrid. We would recommend at least enjoy one of these day trips to get the most of your visit. These trips are recommended especially in case you stay more than 2 days in Madrid, or in case your visit is not the first one to the city!

Cathedral Segovia

Cathedral of Segovia

The old cathedral was totally destroyed in the revolt of the Comuneros. Charles V ordered a new cathedral with a different ground plan to be built on a higher site. Building of the late Gothic cathedral began in 1525. It is known as the “Lady of the Spanish cathedrals‘ owing to its elegance, slender lines, and restrained austerity. The ground plan was drawn up by Juan Gil de Hontañón, who was simultaneously building Salamanca Cathedral.

Catedral Primada

Catedral Primada- Toledo

La cathedral Primada of Toledo is the Town´s major monument and one of Spain’s cathedrals best examples of pure Gothic style. It contains an outstanding art museum with paintings from El Bosco or El Greco, to name but a few. Any visit to the city of Toledo should include time at the Cathedral. The visitor center is opposite the entrance and tickets can be bought there or get them included in one of the daily

Q Which restaurants are near Catedral de la Almudena

Gastronómico Corral de la Morería – Tablao Flamenco
El Tormo
La Esquina del Real
El Mandela
Algarabía
Dos Cielos Madrid
Ouh Babbo

Q What to do near Catedral de la Almudena

Palacio Real
Plaza de Oriente
Mercado de San Miguel
Plaza Mayor de Madrid

Q What hotels are near Catedral de la Almudena

Posada del León Oro

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