After lunch at La Buha, I only had a few hours to see what I could of Madrid on foot because I was attending an event that evening. I decided to return to Catedral de la Almudena, or Almudena Cathedral, which is located directly across from the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Wait…I just noticed something: While looking up the Cathedral on Google Maps, I realized that I could have walked to Chocolatería San Ginés, for a very decadent taste of their Chocolate Con Churros. If you do nothing else when you read this, you must look at the cover of their website to see what I’m writing about! http://chocolateriasangines.com. If you ever visit Madrid, you must stop by and taste what I missed!
But I digress. Back to the Cathedral…
The Almudena Cathedral is assumed to be sitting on the same site of a medieval mosque that was destroyed in 1083. Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, designed this Cathedral until construction was halted due to the Spanish Civil War. It wasn’t until 1950 that construction resumed, and the exterior of the Cathedral was adapted from Gothic Revival to Baroque style by Fernando Chueca Goitia to complement the exterior of the Royal Palace, shown below.
Pope John Paul II consecrated the Cathedral in 1993 upon completion of the construction. There is a statue of the Pope on the grounds in honor of that consecration. The figure is shown facing in towards the Cathedral behind the iron fence in the bottom left corner of the image above, directly above the family walking along the sidewalk.
I love photographing cathedrals. (You’ve been duly warned!) Photographed from the nave towards the altar, the immense scale and detail of this Cathedral is exquisite.
Look at this ceiling below! I became dizzy trying to steady myself when photographing it. Gorgeous!
Of particular note are the brightly colored imitation Byzantine frescoes in the ceilings painted by Kiko Argüello, who was the founder of the Neocatechumenal Way. Pope John Paul II favored him, and the decision to allow Argüello to paint the frescoes was a highly controversial decision.
The frescoes were considered by some to be clumsy and amateurish. It was not so much the choice of using the Byzantine style depicting the resurrection, crucifixion, and ascension that created the controversy, but rather the decision of the Pope to use an “amateur” painter with whom he had close ties to over more traditional, established Spanish artists. Despite this controversy, I found the frescoes and the magnificent ceiling to be uplifting. These features made this Cathedral very approachable, setting it apart from others.
Have I ever mentioned that I have a thing for doors? Along my walk back to the metro to return to my hotel, I came across three doors in separate buildings, all distinct from one another.
Along my walk back, I was able to take a sneak peek inside Restaurante Botín, certified to be the oldest restaurant in the world. This restaurant was built in 1725 and has been operating ever since. They need to hire a new cleaning crew after seeing the newspapers left on the floor near the front entrance!
I love the colors of Madrid! Most importantly, however, I would like to see these round concrete balls in the U.S. protecting pedestrians from cars. Try hitting one of those with your vehicle. You would soon learn to be more careful after your car hit the first one!
And last but not least is this very charming menu displayed in a pretty window box.
16€ (less than $18) for a meal including bread, drink, dessert, and coffee? Yes, please! Unfortunately, I had to pass this little cafe to attend my event for the evening. As I approached my hotel, I was very excited for the night to begin, yet sad upon realizing that I missed seeing so much of Madrid. Another visit, perhaps?
I knew instinctively that the evening would be the beginning of a grand adventure. More on that in my next post!