Monastery of the Incarnation, Madrid

Monastery of the Incarnation, Madrid
Monastery of the Incarnation, Madrid

The relationship between the Spanish monarchy and the church throughout history is undeniable. In fact, the Spanish kings were the ones who traditionally found the greatest union with the clergy defending Christianity and as a safeguard of the Christian faith. An example of this is buildings like the one we are dealing with here, a monastery located in the capital, Madrid, which was founded by order of Queen Margarita, wife of Philip III. Located in the vicinity of the fortress and connected to it with a secret passageway by express order of the queen - the monarch intended to enter and leave the monastery at any time without having to go outside - the building became, together with the monastery of the Descalzas Reales in one of the most outstanding buildings of Madrid's baroque.


The work was built at the beginning of the 17th century between the years 1611 and 1616, so we can classify it in the first baroque, a baroque closely linked to Spanish authors who maintain a great influence on the stylistic conception of the moment. In this way, the imprint of the Herrerian style can still be seen in the Real Monasterio de la Encarnación, a style that the architect Juan de Herrera consolidated in the Monasterio del Escorial and that will notably influence later works such as the one that concerns us here.

According to tradition the monastery was built by theQueen Margarita to commemorate the expulsion of the Moriscos from the capital, one of the most controversial measures taken by her husband. The queen, who had good relations with the nuns of the Monastery of San Agustín in Valladolid, where she had lived for at least six years, had the nuns come directly from there to live in the new building.

For many years it was thought that the work had been carried out by the architect Gómez de Mora, but more recent research confirms that the architect of the project was Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios although the hypothesis that the work was begun by Gómez de Mora and continued by Fray Alberto is not ruled out, since his artistic style was very similar to the previous one. On the outside we find a building with a classicist aspect that has little to do with Baroque forms and a lot with the Herrerian tradition; On the façade we find classic lines and a small patio that serves as an antechamber to the entrance of the convent. The main portal consists of three superimposed bodies with simple rectangular openings that allow interior lighting and an access portico through three semicircular arches, very similar to the façade that Mora had designed in the Convent of San José in Ávila.

The interior is today very distorted with respect to its original approach, in the eighteenth century the building suffered a serious fire that forced multiple reforms; These were carried out by Ventura Rodríguez who, together with other architects andneoclassicist painters, gave the building a new and improved look with marble and jasper decorating the interior of the temple.

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