King Alfonso XII laid the first stone of the Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena) in 1883, yet the neoclassical structure, built atop an old church that itself was built atop the city’s first mosque, wasn’t consecrated until 1993. Compared to Europe’s other major cathedrals, this one is uniquely modern, with touches like pop art–stained glass windows.
As one of the city’s most prominent religious monuments—though not one that’s much loved by all madrileños—this cathedral features in most city sightseeing tours, whether walking, biking, or Segway. The cathedral is also home to a museum with galleries dedicated to the history of the church and its patron saints, Santa María de la Almudena and Saint Isidro Labrador. Visitors can climb to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views of the city below. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Almudena Cathedral is a must-see for any first-time Madrid visitor.
- Entrance to the cathedral is free, but there’s an admission fee to visit the crypt and museum.
- Remember to dress respectfully—this is an active place of worship.
The Almudena Cathedral is well connected by public transportation. Take the Madrid metro to Opera station, or catch buses 3, 39, or 148. When to Get There
The cathedral is open for cultural visits Monday to Saturday. Those who wish to attend mass can do so three times daily Monday to Saturday, or five times on Sundays and festivals. The Virgin of Almudena
The cathedral’s crypt—the oldest part of the structure—houses a 16th-century wooden statue of the Virgin of Almudena. According to lore, local Christians hid the statue of Madrid’s female patron saint during the Arab invasion. When Christians reconquered Madrid in 1085, part of the old Roman wall opened up to reveal the statue, which was flanked by two lighted candles.