Madrid has an important number of churches, but among the most beautiful and spectacular today we would like to talk you about the one that crowns the Paseo del Prado: San Jerónimo Church.
In the place where San Jerónimo church stands nowadays, it was located one of the most important monasteries in Madrid ” The Monastery of San Jerónimo el Real “, popularly known as ” Los Jerónimos “.
Founded by the Catholic Kings at the end of the XV with the aim of creating a convent for Jerónimos monks that would also serve as a room for their stays in the villa of Madrid, the beautiful church we observe at the top of the Paseo del Prado is just part of a much more complex building that occupied that same place.
It was during the successive governments of the Austrian Royal Family when the convent got a bigger dimension and importance.
Thus Philip II chose the place where was crowned in his youth as Prince of Spain to expand the original Royal Fourth of the Catholic Kings. In it he performed his spiritual and religious retreats. He was a very catholic man. In addition he emplaced his room just next to the presbytery (space that precedes the high altar of the church) allowing him to listen to the mass without leaving his room.
This idea of performing the spiritual retreats of the monarchs would be perfected by his grandson, Philip IV, who will decide to extend the stays of it to the point of turning the royal fourth into a palace. This palace became known as “The Palace of Buen Retiro” (The palace of the Good Retreat) that receive the name in honor to the place where his grandfather Philip II used for his spiritual exercises retreats. (Thus the name of the beautiful park of Madrid!)
He would also make retreats in this palace, although far from his grandfather’s religious-spiritual. His would come closer to worldly tastes, vices and pleasures as it would make him the nerve center of court activity and nobility for the celebrations, parties, receptions and loving palace mess.
And where is all this nowadays? Can I visit it? Unfortunately, the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 and the continued battles that were established in the palace of Buen Retiro for being the place chosen by the French to establish their headquarters destroyed most of it. The only thing that survived the fight of that great palace were : The House of Good Retirement and the Hall of Kingdoms that can still be observed at the left side of the church.
The cloister of the convent today is integrated as part of the Prado Museum, which after an important renewal effort hosted it among its walls, thus solving its enlarging needs.
Luckily the Jerónimos church managed to resist this contest and maintain its importance. Thus, witness the history and evolution of the city since the SXV, the Jerónimos Church has been the stage in which great and illustrious characters celebrated their most important religious acts.
Among them are the mass that was held at the beginning of the reign of Juan Carlos I as King of Spain after the time of the Transition or the wedding that joined Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg on 31 May 1906. In fact the staircase that precedes the entrance was made ex profeso so that the contractors could go down for it to be droven to the palace in the carriage that at the end of them awaited them, giving more pomp to the ceremony.
But not everything that starts well ends well. When the carriage of the newlyweds was about to arrive at the palace to continue the celebration, a bouquet of flowers thrown from the window of an inn made the celebration paralyze, that the organization became chaos and that time would be paralyzed for a few seconds.
If you want to know how a bouquet of flowers was about to stop a royal wedding and change the history of Spain… do not miss our Free Tour Madrid ! In Madrid de los Austrias – Old City we will tell you this and many other stories that happened in the oldest part of the city.
We are waiting for you with open arms at Puerta del Sol with our blue umbrellas as soon as possible! Meanwhile we’ll try to keep you entertained you with these kinds of stories.
Good vibes and stay at home! We will bring you closer to see a little more of Madrid! 🙂