The first time I went to the Almudena Cathedral, I wasn’t expecting much. After all, Madrid allegedly pales in comparison with other major cities around Spain in terms of antiquity. In plain terms, it means Madrid’s sacred destinations are not that “OLD”.







Dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena, the construction of the cathedral began in 1883 but was completed a century later in 1993. The name Almudena comes from Almudaina, Arabic for “wheat-store”, because there was one close by.






The story goes that when the Muslims were about to conquer Madrid, the Madrileño Christians hid a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary behind a wall to spare it from being abused and profaned by the conquering Muslims. When King Alphonsus VI regained the city, the wall miraculously crumbled, revealing the statue of our Lady.






What the Church may have lacked in terms of architectural credit and historical significance, this Neo-gothic edifice made up for with its Neo-Romanesque Crypt which houses a 16th century image of the Virgin of Almudena. Kind of creepy inside the crypt, helped along by the background music as one moves from altar to altar, crypt to crypt. As I walked OVER some graves of presumably distinguished Madrileños, adorned with potted plants and flowers, I couldn’t help wondering if this “real estate” is priced highest on a per square meter basis in this corner of the world. (Disculpe, for this irreverence)






If you happen to be in the area of the Palacio Real, make sure to drop by the Cathedral, and then the Crypt. You can also buy some religious souvenirs on your way in or out, like what I got (that’s the photo of the 16th century painting of the Virgin of Almudena). Then before heading home or back to your hotel, you have the option to spend the rest of the day exploring the gardens around the Royal Palace or walk back to Puerta del Sol, passing the Opera. If you’re too tired, then take that metro ride from the Opera Metro Station.