catedral de la almudena

London has Westminster Abbey and St Paul's, Rome has St Peter's, Paris has Notre Dame, and Madrid has...  Yes.  That's what most people would probably say.  On our third day in Madrid, we were walking around and getting a feel for the city, and we noticed a beautiful church next to the Palacio Real.  Turns out it was the Catedral de la Almudena, and Madrid's largest and most important church.  

As we learned more about it over the six months we lived in Madrid, we became increasingly fascinated by it.  The Catedral de la Almudena is actually quite new - construction began in 1883 and finished in 1993.  Building was stopped during the Spanish Civil War and started again in 1950, when styles and ideas had changed, and it was then that it was decided that the outside should match the palace next door.  The interior and exterior are done in almost shockingly different styles - the exterior is Gothic revival, and the interior Neo-Gothic and is actually quite modern.  It's quite unlike anything we've seen before in a European cathedral, and very beautiful.  So colorful, so unique, and so surprising.  

A few pictures from when we stopped by at night way back in October...

At the end of February, during one of the weekends we were sticking around Madrid and trying to see a few local sites, we went inside the cathedral and had a look around...

D - I really like the Almudena because it feels so different from most of the other major cathedrals in Europe.  After you see so many, they start to blend together somewhat, so if one sticks out to me for some reason, I usually like it!  I think the aspect of the Almudena I like best is the bright colors.  They really bring the church to life!

And a view of the Almudena from the back, which we got from a walking tour of Madrid we did over the second weekend of March...   

And then from the front, when we visited the Royal Palace the week of Semana Santa, just a few days before we left Madrid.  

Visiting the Catedral de la Almudena is free unless you want to visit the adjoining museum or go to the top of the dome to view the city.  We didn't do either as I believe it's €6, and we felt that was a little steep, since the museum is likely mostly (if not all) in Spanish and we had a chance to see the city from a few other spots and didn't think it was worth €12.  I would highly recommend stopping into the cathedral, though, if you're visiting the city and especially if you're visiting the Royal Palace.  Walking around the interior shouldn't take more than 10-20 minutes, depending on what sort of cathedral visitor you are, and it really is neat.  We enjoyed it a lot, and after we went inside, started recommending it to everyone we knew in Madrid, as I think it's often overlooked.