Iglesia del Sacramento

To make the article easier to read, we uploaded a piece of Baroque music that is from the same period as the building. It is called "The Spring" from the "Four Seasons" by Vivaldi. You can also listen to a rock version. 


Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was a composer, violinist, teacher and Venetian Catholic priest during the Baroque period. He was nicknamed II prete rosso (The red priest) for being a priest and a redhead. His mastery is reflected in having cemented the genre of the concert. One of his most famous and known plays is "The Four Seasons," from which we have chosen the Spring


Between the years 1615 and 1744, a lot of important events happened in Spain. The Thirty Years War began, and in 1621 Philip IV of Spain was crowned. In 1648 the treaty of Westphalia was signed, and 11 years later, the Peace of the Pyrenees was signed. Then, in 1665, Philip IV died. Afterwards, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed, Charles II was crowned in 1675, and in 1700, he died, which started the War of the Spanish Succession.

The church was designed in 1615, and its construction started in 1671 and finished in 1744. It was recognised as a National Artistic Monument in 1982. This church was commissioned by Don Cristóbal de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Uceda and for Felipe III. 




The style is baroque, but it has some neoclassical paintings. It was constructed with a Latin Cross plan and is ornately decorated. For example, it has a lot of sculptures that catch your attention.

Original and Current Function

Originally, it was an enclosed convent for nuns, which meant that unless they had a medical emergency they couldn’t leave the convent. The  convent building was partly destroyed during the civil war. In the 1940s, it was reconstructed, then demolished in 1972 leaving only the church. Nowadays, it is the cathedral for the armed forces, where the members of the army marry and pray.

State of Conservation and Restoration

The debris caused by the passage of time and the new liturgical adaptations from the Vatican Council urged several renovations. The most important were those made for its declaration as church Cathedral of the Armed Forces of Spain by the Ministry of Defense after its acquisition during the years 1980-1985 when they added remodeling and embellishment. Later, during the years 1999-2000, the floor was changed, electricity was added, and the benches were changed, among other renovations.

Decorative elements

Most of the decorative elements including sculptures, capitals and paintings, share features from the 17th century. There are plenty of frescos that decorate the aisles, similar to those of the Italian churches. These frescos were painted by Luis, Antonio and Alejandro Velázquez who were siblings. The frescos include images of angels, and is located in the ceiling of the pórtico. In the aisles, there are frescos of the sisters of the founders and several saints of the Benedictine Order. There are two paintings of the founders by Luca Giordano that decorate the altarpieces. The church decoration mixes a counter-reformist classicism with some baroque characteristics, like rococo, and this combination of styles defines the baroque of Madrid.

It is broad and luminous. The plasterwork, decorated with  flowers, is exemplary of Madrid's architectural style of the 17th century. Altarpieces of different styles, such as baroque and neoclassical, frame the images of: San Benito and San Bernardo;  the Piety and Virgin of Sponsorship; the Holy Family; San Antonio, San Pedro Claver, Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo and Table of Animas, all belonging to the 17th century. The most important painting was the one of San Bernardino and San Benito, which was painted by Goya’s apprentice, Gregorio Ferro (1742-1812), who also painted Carlos III's bedroom. There are also some sculptures, such as  Ntra Sra Del Patrocinio


The architect of the Cathedral de las Fuerzas Armadas was Juan Gómez de Mora. Juan Gómez de Mora was born in Cuenca in 1586. He was the nephew of Francisco de Mora, who was his mentor. Juan Gomez was the enemy of the Duke of Olivares, who ended up sending him to Murcia during the reign of Felipe IV. Most of his constructions are in Madrid. His buildings are characterised by their symmetry and decoration.

In 1615, he began to work on the Cathedral de las Fuerzas Armadas. It was designed as a Latin cross plan, but its construction didn't start until 1671. Some other architects also participated in the production of this building: Francisco Bautista, Manuel del Olmo, and Bartolomé Hurtado García, who organised the construction.

The church has only one aisle, which is covered by a barrel vault. At the crossing point of the latin cross plan, a beautiful dome is located, held by pendentives and pillars. The dome is divided into eight sections which are separated by ribs. As in other Baroque designs, the decoration in the interior stands out with pilasters topped by capitals created in  the style of Hermano Bautista and an entablature supported by paired brackets and rich, varied plant decoration.


Types of rocks used for it's construction

The main materials used in the construction of the Iglesia del Sacramento were granite and bricks of baked clay. These materials were used very often in the construction of buildings and monuments in Madrid at that time, due to its properties and availability in the outskirts of the city. 

Granite is an  igneous plutonic rock composed mainly  of quartz, feldspar, and mica, accompanied by small amounts of other accessory minerals like amphiboles.


Feldspar: Feldspar makes up a group of minerals called aluminosilicates. These minerals constitute 60% of the earth's crust and are the essential component of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. The characteristics of feldspars are linked to the process of constitution, given by the rapid cooling of volcanic lava.

Quartz: Among the minerals that exist on Earth, quartz is the most common of all. It is inside the classification of oxides and is composed mainly of silicon dioxide. Within the scale of hardness, it is at level 7. It is strong but it can be broken or scratched with steel. The purity of the quartz can be measured by its transparency. 

Mica: It is usually found in igneous rocks such as granite and metamorphic rocks such as shale. The particular characteristics of elasticity, flexibility and heat resistance of the sheets, make them a precious material for the industry due to their properties as electrical insulators and thermal.

Granite: is formed by the slow cooling of magma under the earth's crust.

This rock has a very typical granular aspect that responds to the slow process of crystallization. In this rock we are able to differentiate the mineral grains with the naked eye.

Bricks of Clay: The brick was created in order to become the main buildings material. The brick has been used in construction for centuries to lift the master walls of buildings. Originally the term was used for any rectangular unit composed of clay that was unified with the help of mortar. Clay is the raw material of the brick. Clay is ideal for this purpose due to its properties. It is impermeable, mouldable, so it is very easy to form bricks with it. They use masonry to construct the buildings, and masonry is a traditional construction system.

Justification of the type of rock chosen

Granite has been used extensively in construction for many year thanks to the resistance of the material. It is resistant to deterioration, corrosion, the application of compression forces. Also they used it because it is the most abundant rock of the continental crust and it is resistant to ice because it absorbs only 0,6% of water.

They used bricks because they were made of clay, and clay was easily molded and had a greater consistency in shape and size

Quarries and Transportation

Granite has to be extracted in large pieces, so large  teams of workers and specialized equipment are needed to extract this type of rock. In that time granite could be extracted from quarries in Zarzalejo, Colmenar Viejo, Alpedrete, Sierra de Guadarrama, Moralzarzal, Galapagar and Cadalso de los Vidrios.

All the extracted granite is polished and then transported to a factory where they are cut into appropriate sizes which can be transported easily. It must be transported in a special way for it not to crack. Granite has to be transported vertically on its edge because if it is laid flat, it will crack.    



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