Renowned across Spain for its magnificent frescos, the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida, or the Royal Chapel of St Anthony of Florida, is one of Madrid´s most popular churches. Built in 1792 by Italian architect Filippo Fontana under commission by Carlos IV, the neoclassical style chapel is located in the city’s Moncloa-Aravaca district and draws visitors from around the world to marvel at its splendid interiors. Now designated a National monument, the chapel boasts number of notable features including a sculpture of San Antonio by José Ginés, but it’s the elaborate paintings that steal the limelight.
The breathtaking frescoes are the work of iconic romantic painter Francisco de Goya and narrate the life of the Saint through a series of painted scenes covering the ceiling and dome. The grand pictorials were completed in 1798 and took just 6 months to complete, including depictions of the ‘miracle of St Anthony’; the ‘Adoration of the Trinity’ and a series of cherubs and angels. The works have become renowned as a masterpiece of Spanish art and are credited for showcasing glimpses of Goya’s early experimentations with expressionism and impressionism.
In 1928 a new chapel was erected next door and the original chapel is now preserved as a museum of Goya’s works. It’s a fitting tribute as the holy building was so important to the artist that his remains were flown back from Bordeaux upon his death, to be buried in the San Antonio chapel.