I had been to quite a number of churches in Madrid; some are built simply, while others are complex. They exhibit differences in varying degrees – in size, shape, design, structure – in their total architecture. But if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s the striking form and beauty that they possess. It’s evident that only the most skilled and dedicated craftsmen and builders constructed such magnificent, spirit-filled edifices.
Just take a look at the chancel where the altar is placed and the holy mass is performed. It’s typical in Madrid for the front area of its churches to be intricate and adorned in a meticulous manner. The altar itself is radiant from afar. It becomes even more during a mass service, when the florescent lamps that line up the narrow spaces behind nearby walls shine to offer steady illumination and the lighted candles atop its corners flicker with their unsteady, yellow flames. Now slowly walk the length of the nave from the entrance. As you go nearer, the more you become drawn to the enthralling sight of the altar, with its blessed exquisiteness as well as the serenity of the chancel that cradles it further amplified.
The Spaniards love their church. Like most other Catholic nations, Spain recognizes it as an institution vital in keeping communities intact and people in harmony. One thing I noticed, however, is that weekday masses are sparsely attended. This observation brings up a needling, sad question: “Why do many churches in Madrid have their pews collecting dust in most days of the week instead of enjoying the attendance of the pious?”
It’s not difficult to believe that not a few of them in some obscure corners of Madrid are abandoned to suffer a desolate state.
Notwithstanding, the situation isn’t all that rough like I perceive it to be. Come Sunday, churches become alive with all the religious assemblies, choir concerts, processions, and masses that usually happen on this day. And families, couples, friends do gather and attend. My guess is that Spain, as a modern, progressive country, takes much of the time of its people, keeping them from performing their religious responsibilities in order to meet their daily obligations at work and society.
A parroquia, iglesia, or a catedral? I’m confused as to when and why one is called as such. One thing is sure – there is no church in Madrid that has not taken my breath away. From the tens or probably even hundreds of them scattered in the city, I managed to make a list of my own eight beautiful churches – the inclusion of which is either because they strike me for their extraordinary charm, or because they’re the ones that I go to attend mass.
Let’s Talk Madrid’s Top 8 Churches
1.Parroquia de San Jeronimo el Real de Madrid
Set on top of an elevated land along Calle de Moreto, and facing the famous Museo del Prado,I have always been in awe with the beauty of Parroquia de San Jeronimo el Real de Madrid. The Church Atop the Hill – that’s how I’d like to call it – San Jeronimo is said to be originally a monastery in the 16th century. Continuous renovations gave its present Gothic appearance on its facade. The interior is something to marvel at. Its serene, low-lit ambiance is mesmerizing, and hence conducive for the prayerful to send forth his intentions. Overall, the church’s presence in the area is captivating. It is a strong rival to nearby structures and edifices such as the Plaza de Neptuno and the Prado Museum. The Parroquia de San Jeronimo Real de Madrid is not merely a church, but a major tourist attraction this part of the city.
Address: Calle de Moreto, 4, 28014 Madrid
Sunday Masses: Invierno – 10AM, 12Noon, 1PM, 2PM, 7PM; Verano – 10AM, 12Noon, 1PM, 8PM
For complete schedule of its regular daily opening and masses for both Summer and winter Seasons, please refer to the Horarios webpage at church’s official website. (This is applicable to succeeding featured churches)
2.Parroquia de Santa María la Real de la Almudena
If Cathedral de la Almudena is an art, it is one gargantuan city block of masterpiece. People often compare it to the St. Peter’s Basilica or Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia. Upon entering, you will immediately be amazed by the Gothic-Neoclassical interior that its builder must have focused on to perfect. Especially impressive are the fine details of the altarpiece and ceiling. A frequented part of the Cathedral is The Blessed Sacrament, where masses are held everyday. Indeed, the cathedral’s architectural design is one to fuss about. This is the reason why Almudena is among the favorite churches of tourists. A statue of Pope John Paul II stands in the midst of its yard. With arms wide open and outstretched, he seemingly invites people to visit La Almudena.
Address: Calle Bailen 10, 28013 Madrid
Sunday and Holiday Masses: 10:30AM, 12Noon, 1:30PM, 6:00PM, 7PM
Website: Cathedral de la Almudena
3. Parroquia de San Antonio de Cuatro Caminos
The San Antonio Church, along the busy Bravo Murillo, is a Franciscan church founded by the Capuchin friars. It is a popular church among Filipinos and other churchgoers of various nationalities. The church has a simple facade, but boasts of a decent interior of white and pink. There is a second level, an elevated floor just above the altar area and overlooking the pews and faithful below; here is where you will find the statue of the patron saint. The walls on both aisles, left and right, treat visitors with oversized written scriptures. Displayed also are sculptures and paintings of San Antonio and other religious figures.
The Parroquia is known to be dedicated to Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of of Miracles, a proven powerful intercessor. Countless devotees attest to instances when their intentions and prayers were answered thru the San Antonio’s intercession.
Location: Calle Bravo Murillo, 150 28020 Madrid
Sunday and Holiday Masses: 8AM; 9AM; 10AM; 11AM; 12Noon; 1PM; 7:30PM; 8:30PM
Website: Parroquia de San Antonio horarios
4.Parroquia de la Santa Cruz
This Church at Calle Atocha situated within the central area of Madrid is a personal favorite because one of its patron saints is St. Jude Thaddeus, the Saint of Impossible Cases, to whom I am a devotee. Tourists never fail to visit it, probably because it is just a hundred meters or so away from Plaza Mayor.
A beautiful edifice is highlighted by a lanky tower in the middle, which is said to be built initially to act as a watch tower for the community. It boasts of an exciting baroque style in its facade, giving the impression that a grand interior is waiting to be seen. And indeed, you will not be disappointed. Low-lighted, but not bleak, this adds solemnity to the quiet setting that’s meant to help church-goers focus on pursuing their holy intentions.
On the sides of the church are small chapels that display various saints such as Virgen de la Cinta and Virgen de los Siete Dolores. Taking pictures of the interior is prohibited.
Address: Parroquia de Santa Cruz. Atocha, 6 Madrid 28012
Sunday and Holiday masses: Invierno – 10AM, 11:30AM, 1PM, 7PM; Verano – 10AM, 11:30AM, 1PM, 8PM
Sitio horarios: Sta Cruz Church
5. Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
Immaculate Concepcion is a majestic, towering edifice of worship located at Goya, in the midst of the shopping district of Salamanca. A white church that features fine details both in its interior and facade, it is further accentuated by an impressive altarpiece that the Lady of Immaculate Concepcion deserves. It is dominantly white in color, complimented by the blue-hued dome, the windows of which offer sufficient lighting onto the altar and the surrounding areas.
Location: Parroquia Concepción de Ntra. Señora, Goya 26 Madrid 28009
Sunday Masses: 9AM,10AM,11AM (familias), 12Noon, 1Pm (Parroquial), 2PM, 6PM,7PM and 8:30PM
Website: Basílica de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
6. La Iglesia de San Sebastian
Along Calle Atocha where Parroquia Sta Cruz is also found is La Iglesia de San Sebastian. It is one of the highly visited churches at Barrio de las Letras, or the Quarter of the Muses. A casualty during the country’s civil war, the church is host to the remains of the famous playwright of Spain Lope de Vega. Located within the tourist area of Madrid, it is near Melia Hotel and Plaza Santa Ana.
Rich in Spanish religious history and art, you will find here the statues of Virgen del Carmen and San Antonio. Oil Paintings, like the Madre Maravillas and the Sta Teresita Maravillas de San Sebastian, are also housed within. Definitely, it one of the churches you must visit if you’re touring Madrid.
Address: Calle de Atocha, 39, 28012 Madrid
Sunday Masses: Invierno – 10AM, 12Noon, 7:30PM; Verano – 12Noon, 7:30PM
Sitio horarios: San Sebastian Horarios
7. Parroquia San Ildefonso Tribunal
Take a quick look at San ildefonso Tribunal Church, located at an old Malasana public square of the same name, and you will notice the simplicity of its facade. It presents no intricate lines nor details to boast of. On its right portion is an old, non-functioning clock, while in the midst is a circle-shaped window attached to which is a 8-pointed star. It evidently lacks in grandiose outward appearance that’s common in Madrid churches; still, this is compensated by its awe-inspiring Baroque altarpiece. The interior is more engaging because of its impressive high altar. The presence of a San Ildefonso painting punctuates the beauty of its chancel. Known as one of the oldest parroquias in Madrid, it entices tourists to drop by and spend some time inside this Catholic Spanish temple. San Ildefonso is near major Madrid tourist areas; like the Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, and the stretch of Fuencarral.
Address: Plaza de San Ildefonso, 28004 Madrid
Sunday masses: Invierno – 9AM, 11AM, 7PM; Verano – 9AM, 11AM, 8PM
Sitio horarios: San Ildefonso horarios
8. Iglesia de San Gines de Arles
Flaunting a combined Baroque-neoclassical design, Iglesia de San Gines de Arles of Calle Arenal is one of the oldest in Madrid, Spain. It is said that San Gines was the unanimous choice whenever a major city fiesta or important religious activity required a venue. It was considered the spiritual refuge of a majority of Madrilenos, until the Cathedral de Almudena was built and considered a more appropriate replacement. San Gines, however, continues to be a popular alternative site for many locals. Devotees flock to San Gines to ask for the intercession of San Judas Tadeo, the statue of which is displayed at the church’s right corner.
Address: Calle del Arenal 13 Madrid, 28001
Sunday masses: Invierno / Verano – 9AM, 11AM, 12Noon, 7PM, 8:30PM
Webpage Horarios: San Gines Mass schedules