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Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de La Almudena)

Madrid’s only cathedral is a definite crowd-pleaser, with a mixed architectural style and breathtaking panorama of the city from its viewing platform.

Originally designed in the 16th century, Almudena Cathedral, or Santa María la Real de La Almudena, was only completed in 1993, and the resulting potpourri of design features from over the ages make it a remarkable stopping point on any sightseeing tour of Madrid. The combination of ancient and modern is interesting enough, but there's also a museum and viewing platform on-site to make your visit even more worthwhile.

As you approach the cathedral, you'll be struck by its impressively tall façade. You may notice that the neoclassical exterior of the building was designed to fit in with the style of the nearby Royal Palace. However, the neo-Gothic interior conjures a completely different atmosphere, especially when you walk down to the crypt, the oldest part of the cathedral. This offers a further contrast with the stained-glass, pop-art style windows and dazzling array of colour on the underside of the roof. Throughout the cathedral you can also enjoy artwork by artists both ancient and modern.

At 104 metres long and 76 metres wide, with the diameter of the central dome at 20 metres, there’s plenty of space to walk around. Soak up the sense of pomp and grandeur, and breathe in the ambience that surrounded Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano's royal wedding ceremony in 2004. A visit to this cathedral wouldn't be complete without going up to the dome and gazing out from the viewing platform; you're unlikely to find a better view over Madrid anywhere else in the city.

There are a number of specific features in the cathedral worth looking out for. One of these is the statue of Pope John Paul II which commemorates his consecration of the cathedral in 1993. The image of the Virgin of Almudena in the crypt is also an important piece, harking back to the 16th century, while the 15th-century altarpiece at the western end of the transept is also a must-see for all visitors. The on-site museum gives a detailed history of the cathedral and diocese. It also has clerical attire and other artefacts on display.

The cathedral is on Calle Bailé, next-door to the Royal Palace, and is accessible via the Ópera metro station. The cathedral is open every day but you should check opening hours if you want to go to the museum. Admission is free, although there is a fee for the museum and viewing platform.


Lodging Near Almudena Cathedral

See all 4,798 Properties near Almudena Cathedral
Hotel Riu Plaza España

Hotel Riu Plaza España

C/ Gran Via, 84, Madrid
    4.0 out of 5.0
     
     

    Located in Centro, this hotel is steps away from Calle de la Princesa, Gran Via Street and Teatro Coliseum. Royal Palace of Madrid and Lope de Vega Theatre are ...

    Hotel Riu Plaza EspañaAU$155

    Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the World

    Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the World

    Cuesta de Santo Domingo, 5, Madrid, Madrid
      5.0 out of 5.0
       
       

      Located in Centro, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Royal Theatre and Plaza de Oriente. Royal Palace of Madrid and Sabatini Gardens are also within ...

      Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá - The Leading Hotels of the WorldAU$603

      Melia Madrid Princesa

      Melia Madrid Princesa

      Princesa 27, Madrid, Madrid
        5.0 out of 5.0
         
         

        Located in Moncloa-Aravaca, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Calle de la Princesa, Gran Via Street, and Teatro Coliseum. Royal Palace of Madrid ...

        Melia Madrid PrincesaAU$135

        ME Madrid by Melia

        ME Madrid by Melia

        Plaza de Santa Ana, 14, Madrid, Madrid
          4.5 out of 5.0
           
           

          Located in Literary Quarter, this luxury hotel is steps away from Plaza de Santa Ana and Teatro Espanol. Congress of Deputies and Plaza Mayor are also within ...

          ME Madrid by MeliaAU$245

          Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by Melia

          Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by Melia

          Gran Via 25, Madrid, Madrid
            3.0 out of 5.0
             
             

            Located in Centro, this hotel is steps away from Casino Gran Via and Gran Via Street. Puerta del Sol and Teatro Rialto are also within 10 minutes. Gran Via Station ...

            Hotel Madrid Gran Vía 25, managed by MeliaAU$111

            Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid

            Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid

            Gran Via 31, Madrid, Madrid
              5.0 out of 5.0
               
               

              Located in Centro, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Gran Via Street, Puerta del Sol, and Teatro Lara. Plaza Mayor and Teatro Rialto are also within ...

              The First One Boutique Hotel

              The First One Boutique Hotel

              Calle Preciados, 44, Madrid, Madrid
                4.0 out of 5.0
                 
                 

                Located in Centro, this hotel is steps away from Plaza de Callao and Teatro Rialto. Gran Via Street and Lope de Vega Theatre are also within 5 minutes. Callao ...

                The First One Boutique Hotel AU$176

                Hotel Moderno

                Hotel Moderno

                Calle Arenal 2, Madrid, Madrid
                  3.0 out of 5.0
                   
                   

                  Located in Centro, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Plaza Mayor, Mercado de San Miguel and Royal Palace of Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum ...

                  Hotel ModernoAU$153

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