Almudena Cathedral, whose official name is Cathedral of Saint Mary the Royal of La Almudena, is the great catholic temple in the Spanish capital. Despite being the largest and most important church, it’s not the oldest. Far from it, in fact, since its construction was not complete until a few decades ago.
The work on the building began at the end of the 19th century, and throughout almost all of the 20th century it remained a work in progress, with different setbacks for economic reasons.
The result is a building that mixes different styles, since its exterior appears to have a Neoclassical influence, but once you enter its spacious interior, you’ll see that it’s a Neo-Gothic temple where all of the details have been carefully laid out to evoke the old gothic cathedrals.
And finally, one of the areas that was first opened to the public was the underground crypt, whose architecture is a good example of the Neo-Romantic style.
Despite being a relatively recently work, the large internal nave and the different chapels are adorned with pictures, portraits and sculptures that are much older. Some of the art was even made in the 15th century.
The size of the temple is tremendous, reaching a length of 100 metres and a height of up to 72 metres at its tallest point. That highest point is where the cupola is, which along with the main facade, with its double columns and two lateral tower, the most emblematic element of the building.
The main facade puts the temple in a north to south direction, something that is different from many Christian churches, which generally are oriented east to west. The reason for this orientation is the nearby presence of the Royal Palace, since Almudena Cathedral is next to it and is linked to it via Plaza de la Armería.
Its location is not coincidental, since the Almudena replaced another church in that area, which also had been dedicated to the patron saint of Mari, and also its worship is closely linked to Spanish royalty. In short, after a visit to the monumental Royal Palace, entering the Almudena Cathedral is the perfect complement.