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By Meg West - Thu 14th Mar 2013

Seeing as Easterís coming up, thought I might grab this holy opportunity and talk about one of Madridís religious monuments: Almudena Cathedral.

A brief history: Madrid took over as Spainís capital city in 1561, but the seat of the Church remained in the former, Toledo. This meant, somewhat controversially, that the new capital of the Catholic Spain had no cathedral. Although plans for a new cathedral were discussed as early as the 16th century, but it wasnít until 1879 that construction actually began. Dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena, the Gothic revival style cathedral was finally completed in 1993, which explains its modern interior design.

Call me sad, but personally Iím a big fan of this cathedral and itís a great visit for when friends come to visit due to its close proximity to the Royal Palace (two birds one stone?). Itís also free to enter although you are supposed to leave a small donation.

The Real BasŪlica de San Francisco el Grande is not only a mouthful, but also another of Madridís important churches. Again fairly new, it was designed by Francisco Cabezas and constructed in the second half of the 18th century. The inside of the cathedral was completed at the end of the 19th century, and could be described as somewhat eclectic. The church boasts a fairly extensive art collection, which includes the works of ZurbarŠn and Goya. From Tuesday to Friday you can visit between 11.00-12.30 and then from 16.00-18.30 and then on Saturdays from 11.00-13.30.

So if you ever feel like you should be doing something a little more cultural, why not check them out. As with most things in Madrid, the two are within a short walking distance of each other so you could easily visit both in one day. Enjoy !

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