Travel blogs have lauded this former Madrid hospital for the labourers as one of the most eccentric yet beautiful edifices in the city. I definitely agree with them. Its name is long, Hospital de Jornaleros de San Francisco de Paula; this alone makes you feel it is special. Hospital de Maudes for short, its impressive white-and-brownish hued facade and stately towers give off a royal vibe.
At least once a week, I never fail to take a short eight-minute (as how I timed it) walk that starts from El Corte Ingles at the corner of Paseo de Castellana and Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde and ends at Cuatro Caminos, or vice versa. And when I do, this building located midway always earns from me a long, bewildered gaze.
Is Hospital de Maudes really a hospital or a church?
I am at a loss about the true “identity” of the Maudes Hospital. Is it really one, when if viewed from afar, it appears to be abandoned? It doesn´t look busy like any typical hospital rendering medical services.
And so I thought I needed to do some sleuthing by visiting the building myself. Going there is easy — Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos, a busy roundabout, is four Metro stops away from Valdeacederas station, which is a few blocks from my place.
Upon reaching the Glorieta, I turned to Fernandez Villaverde and walked its sidewalk down to the spot where I could take some long shots of the building. I also had to take pictures from close range, which meant walking back to the glorieta in order to cross Villaverde street and access the opposite sidewalk.
As I approached the building, I realized it wasn’t a hospital but a church. However, since it was mid-afternoon, the gates were closed and the main front doors shut. I was almost sorry about the glum surroundings.
After taking pictures, I walked to the back of the building, and discovered that this portion faces a street called Calle de Maudes. It became clear that it was named after its location.
A large sign, “Comunidad de Madrid” is posted on the facade, and this got me more confused. Is it a hospital? A church? Or did they turn it to a government agency of sorts?
I noticed a security officer was around, walking and checking the premises, occasionally stopping in front of the gate to observe people passing by. I notice he looked at me as I took pictures from the outside, but he didn’t seem to mind my presence and continued his unhurried gait around. All the while I took shots, I waited for him to venture near the grilled fence.
Finally, he did. This signaled me to field my questions about the building, to which he graciously responded.
Parroquia Santa Maria del Silencio
He explained that the original building was constructed to serve as a hospital, providing medical and health services to the laborers of the city.
Eventually, the property was divided, the part facing Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde now serves as a church, known as the Parroquia Sta Maria del Silencio, the Parish church for the deaf. (This church primarily serves the spiritual needs of people with hearing disabilities.) The other half located along Calle de Maudes Site operates as a government office.
I thanked the security guy profusely for his efforts to enlighten me as far as Hospital de Maudes’s current function is concerned. [I couldn’t remember the number of times I uttered “Como” and “Mas despacho, por favor” as he spoke entirely in Spanish].
Now, I see the building differently, having learned about its history and function as well (a noble one at that). I don’t think of it now as a beautiful building gone to waste but a Palacios masterpiece that has more than served its purpose.
Notice how the towers of the buildings have a strong resemblance to those belonging to the Palacio de Cibeles, mainly because both buildings were creations of the same Spanish architect, Antonio Palacio
Facts and trivia
1. Antonio Palacios, the Spanish architect of Hospital de Maudes and Cibele Palace, had a significant part in the construction of a number lineas of Metro de Madrid, designing the entrances to the stations.
2. Year 2016 marks its centenary, since construction was finished in 1916. A beautiful website, Palacio de Maudes, is dedication to its 100-year celebration.
3. The government agency currently housed at the Maudes part of the building is the Consejería de Transportes, Vivienda y Infraestructura, or the Ministry of Transportation, Housing and Infrastructure.
4. The owner of the land on which the building was built is Dona Dolores Romero. She ordered the creation of a hospital specifically meant to welcome city laborers needing medical attention but didn’t have the financials means to pay for it. The hospital was tasked to admit and retain patients up to their full recovery and restored ability to return to work.
How to reach Hospital de Maudes
Hospital de Maudes is found in one of bustling neighborhoods of Madrid, a few hundred meters away from the Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos. Immediate streets are Bravo Murillo and Paseo de Castellana, both of which intersect Calle Fernandez Villaverde, the street where it is found. Important landmarks nearby are El Corte Ingles and the the Governnment office, Nuevos Ministerios.
Nearest Metro Stations: N. Ministerios, Bravo Murillo
Autobus paradas: C1, C2, 149, 40, 5, 27
(If you have to upload or embed the map of Hospital de Maudes on your own blog or website, don’t search the key phrase Hospital de Maudes, but go for “Santa Maria del Silencio” instead, which is how they refer to the building on Google Maps.)