According to the legend, the image of “Santa María de la Almudena” dates back to the times of James the Elder and his arrival in Spain to preach the “good news”. However, the Madrid cathedral that honors this image is much more recent.
The Villa of Madrid became the capital of Spain in 1561 under the reign of King Felipe II. However, it is not until the 1800’s that the Diocese of Madrid is created, leading to the eventual construction of the cathedral.
The “Almudena” Cathedral presents the neo-classical, neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque styles, comparable to the architecture of the Royal Palace. It began to be built in 1883 and by 1993, much of the structure had been completed. At that time Pope John Paul II consecrates the temple as the Cathedral of “Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena”. A statue of Pope John Paul II facing “Calle Bailen” commemorates that moment.
The main facade of the Cathedral faces the “Plaza de la Armería” and further along to the Royal Palace. The “Almudena” Cathedral currently houses the image of the patron saint of Madrid, which was originally in the small church “Santa María de la Almudena”, was built over the Jewish quarter of Madrid.
The current Cathedral is built on the remains of an old mosque. Incidently, “Almudena” is an Arabic word that means “citadel.”