If you’re a first-time traveler to Madrid, there’s no way that you will miss the numerous churches and monasteries scattered all around the city. One of the most popular, not only because it is located in the tourist-magnet Centro, but adjacent to the majestic Palacio Real, is the grand Cathedral de Almudena. The most popular iglesia in the early days until the Almudena was built, along Calle Arenal and near the Plaza Mayor, is the history-rich Real Iglesia Parroquial de San Ginés de Arlés.
Yet another nearby church near the Monte de Piedad Building, is the Plateresque-designed Monastery of the Descalzas Reales. It is certainly a must-visit, if only for the beauty and magnificence of both the intricate interior and solid facade of the edifice. A visit of the monastery is sure to make your tour of Madrid a meaningful one.
Former Royal Palace
Did you know that the edifice’s name literally means the Monastery of the Royal Barefooted, and that it was given the Royal title because it was a former residence of Empress Isabel and Emperador Charles V of Portugal. At present, its vast area houses a small church and an orchard.
History of the Monastery
Originally built for the Nuns of Poor Claire order as far back as 1559, it eventually admitted and cared for spinster women or widows. It was said that every woman who was taken in to the convent had to pay a dowry. This allowed the monastery to gain a huge amount of wealth, allowing it to become one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
What to Find Inside
If you’re an art lover, you would surely love to take a look on the interior of the Monastery as there must be tons of valuable art items, particularly paintings and religious artifacts. A beautiful palace in its own right, the monastery displays a great deal of Plateresque style, combined with Renaissance touch, particularly in its interiors. Renowned painters and artists like Luini and Tinian have their paintings adorning various parts of the convent and chapel.
Nearby Sites and Attractions
After a visit of the Monasterios de las Descalzas Reales, shopping might be in order next. A stone’s throw away is the El Corte Ingles, along Calle Maestro Victoria, and a host of many other shops and boutiques within the areas of Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza Callao. And if you haven´t gotten your fill of things that are royal, visit the Real Casa de Correos in Puerto del Sol, the former post office and now the Ministry of the Interior, and the Royal Palace, the King of Spain’s Official Residence.
Need to grab something to eat? The perfect choice is the Mercado San Miguel, the food kiosks of which probably sells thousands of varieties of tapas. Other choices offering good eats are Museo del Jamon and Cerveceria Plaza Mayor Bar, both within the confines of the Plaza Mayor.
Hours of Visit
Tuesday – Saturday: 10AM to 2PM, 4PM to 6:30PM.
Sundays & holidays: 10AM to 3PM
Price of Admission
Wednesday, Thursday: 4PM – 6:30PM