Los Jerónimos

Are you ready to discover the unknown beauty of Madrid in the Baroque era? Have you ever wondered how many secrets are hidden behind the walls of the different builidings that are a part of this city? If you want to take part in this amazing experience, just continue reading!  

While reading, you can enjoy this music piece in order to make the exerience a bit more relaxing and interesting. It is a rock adaptation of a classical song by Bach. 


Bach´s Brandenburg Concerto by Rock Guitarist Dave Munkhoff


The 17th century in Spain was a period of crisis and wars. After the death of Isabella of Castille in 1504, Charles V (1517-1556) inherited the Spanish throne and a large empire, becoming the most powerful ruler of his time.

It was Philip II who succeeded Charles V in the year 1556. He inherited one of the world’s largest empires, and he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces.  After Philip II, the last Austrian Habsburgs kings ruled Spain (Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II). During this period of the 17th century, Spain fell into decline.

Spain started to lose power until it became a second rate power in Europe. The governmental obligations were carried out by the Validos. The most important ones were the Duke of Lerma and the Duke of Olivares. Spain was involved in the Thirty years war and was defeated by France. The country also went bankrupt provoking several domestic rebellions that caused even more problems in the economy and the country.

Spain was then conquered by the Bourbon Dynasty, and it became a Centralised state based on the French model.

It was a period of changes and there was a transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Great buildings were constructed and brilliant paintings were made. Art became more complicated and elaborate.

The Baroque period was an important period in Spanish literature, particularly with poetry, but also with the birth of the contemporary novel. 


About the church

Its construction was ordered in the 15th Century, in the year 1464 on the banks of the Manzanares river.

The Church of San Jerónimo El Real was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon .

The church of  San Jerónimo el Real was founded in 1464 by Enrique IV de Trastámara; when Enrique died, it was Isabel II who succeeded him on the throne). It was located near the Manzanares River, on the road to El Pardo. Due to the proximity of the river, the humidity was constant and this made the church an unhealthy place for the monks to live. 

In 1503, with the permission of the Catholic Monarchs, the church was moved to the Villa de Madrid, more specifically to the Prado Viejo.

It became one of the most emblematic buildings in Madrid. The courts of the kingdom met in the church, and royal events began to take place: in 1528, the swearing in of Philip II as heir to the crown was held here.

During his mandate, Philip II, ordered the construction of a room where the monarchs could retire to rest. In 1808, with the beginning of the War of Independence and during the French invasion, the church was occupied by French troops, which caused great damage. At the end of the war the friars who previously lived in the church returned in order to settle down again.

But shortly after in 1836, the decrees of exclaustration kept the church temporarily closed and it was used as an artillery park. Therefore, the church has had different uses and it has undergone several reconstructions.

Original and Current function

Original: The church was closely linked to the Spanish monarchy and to the life of the Court. It was used for weddings, funerals, swearing in of heirs and for royal proclamations. It was also a place to rest and relax for the Spanish Royal family.

Current: Nowadays, the church can be visited and you can attend mass every day. It is open to everyone, and you do not have to pay to visit it. Also, marriages are conducted in the church. It is one of the most emblematic buildings of Madrid.


Artistic Style

This building has a Gothic Elizabethan style from the end of the XV and the beginning of the XVI, but it has undergone a series of changes over the last centuries, so it has different architectural styles.


It is late Gothic with Renaissance influences and it shows features of Madrid architecture, which can be seen in its facade where stone and brick are mixed.

3D Model of Los Jeronimos

Main Architectural Elements


The church is a Basilica with a central nave. There are five chapels on either side of the central nave. The main altar houses an enormous painting, La Última Comunión de San Jerónimo made by Rafael Tegeo. The whole building is covered by a groin vault, which is produced by the intersection of two barrel vaults. In the past, the church had tribunes, but they were replaced by a triforium. The Museo del Prado lent the church 8 paintings in order to decorate it. In the main chapel, there is an altarpiece made by José Menéndez. There are pillars all along the church with carved capitals and two basket arches, and the jambs are decorated with flowers and leaves.


The outside building contains supported elements such as flying buttresses and arches. The facade has a rose window made of stone and a pointed arch. There is also a balustrade decorated with geometrical figures.

In the entrance of the church, there is a carpanel arch that contains a fleurs-de-lis, which is the symbol of the Bourbon Dynasty. On the opposite side of the entrance of the building, there are two towers which are decorated with pointed arch windows and also with the same rose window as the one in the entrance. 

Under the arch there is the portal where some of the jambs are decorated with leaves and other jambs are just columns; the tympanum shows a representation of the birth of the Virgin Mary, the lintel has a message written in it and the archivolts are decorated in the same way as the jambs. In the top of the building, there are pinnacles.



State of conservation

Thanks to King Francisco de Asís, husband of Isabel II, the church was restored twice during the second half of the 19th century. The first one was completed by the architect Narciso Pascual y Colomer between 1848 and 1859. The style used was neo-Gothic. Some of the elements introduced by this architect were: the Latin cross plan in the church, a central nave, a ceiling supported by groin vaults, pinnacles in the exterior of the church, basket arches and Gothic tracery. The second restoration, was carried out in 1879 by Enrique María Repullés and Vargas. He continue decorating and restoring the church. He made some changes, and he removed the tribunes of the 16th century in order to replace them with triforium.

The monastery of San Jerónimo el Real had two cloisters. The first and older of the two was destroyed between 1855 and 1856, while the second was a Renaissance cloister built in the 16th century for religious and secular use. This latter was replaced about a century after by a Baroque cloister designed by Fray Lorenzo de San Nicolás.

The portal was the most affected in the XIX century so Ponciano Ponzano rebuilt it.


Los Jerónimos - 1503


Los Jerónimos - 2019


The facade of the church is mostly made of bricks, limestone and granite. To join all the materials they used a substance called mortar. The details of the portal are made with granite and the staircase was made with sandstone.  The columns and the decoration inside the church  is made of granite and cast. 

Materials used

The church of San Jerónimo el Real is mainly made of igneous, and sedimentary rocks. 

Clay is the material with which the bricks are made.They are rectangular blocks form of baked clay and they can be red or brown. Bricks are a popular material because they stand corrosion, resist fire and retains heat.

They date back to 7000 BC, which makes them one of the oldest known building materials. Bricks were discovered in southern Turkey. The first bricks, where made in areas with warm climates.


Granite is an igneous rock, which is formed from the slow crystallization of the magma below the surface of the Earth. Granite is composed of quartz and feldspar with small amounts of other minerals. This mineral composition gives the granite a red, pink, grey, or white with dark mineral grains visible throughout the rock.

Generally, the slower the molten rock is cooled, the larger it’s mineral crystals are. During formation of granite it is buried below kilometers of rock and sediment necessary to produce enough heat to melt rock.


Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate in the form of the mineral calcite. It is an organic sedimentary rock that is formed by the accumulation of shell, coral and algal.

Some limestone consists mainly of coral or the shells of other small marine creatures and they can also be precipitated from seawater.


They used a substance similar to concrete, called Mortar, in order to attach the materials to the buildings walls.

Mortar is used to hold building materials such as brick or stone together. It is composed of a mixture of water, sand, and cement.  It is a thicker substance than concrete and it is ideal for bonding elements.

In the photo we can see the different materials metion before.
LImestone, bricks and mortar.

Features and justification of the rocks chosen

It was really common to use this type of rocks in constructions because they are dense, durable and hard rocks so this means that they support better the pass of the time.

Bricks are hard materials, they are absorptive in order to absorb rain water and they are durable.  

Granite has been used for thousands of years in both interior and exterior applications. It was frequently selected because it was a prestige material, used in projects to produce impressions of elegance, it is a lasting material and it does not deteriorate easily.

Limestone is a permeable rock. This means that water can enter limestone through pores, joints or cracks in the rock. Another characteristic of limestone is that it can be slowly dissolved by water. This material is less durable than the rest. 

As you can see, the characteristics of the materials used to built, Los Jeronimos match with the first statement. In the Baroque in Spain, it was very common to use this type of materials. 


Quarries used for rocks extraction

Nowadays there are machines that make the extraction of rocks way more easy, but in the past there were loads of people working inside the quarries in order to extract this materials. A large number of population worked at the quarries.

It is not really clear of which specific quarries they extracted the different materials. But in the XVI century, in Madrid there were some important quarries:

In the Guadarrama Mountain Range, there were a large number of quarries: Colmenarejo and Galapagar, La Dehesa de Navalvillar located in Colmenar Viejo and un Hoyo de Manzanares.

This were problaby the quarries from which they extracted the different materials. 



In the past, it took a long time for the rocks to arrive to the factories. During the XVI and XVII centuries wooden wagons moved the minerals from the interior of the quarries to canals where the cargo was transshipped for transport fluvial or cart. 

As  the materials used for the construction of our church were found in the quarries that were near the mountain range in Madrid, the rocks were transported by carts.  

Granite and Limestone are extracted directly from open air quarries. Once it is extracted, the stone breaks into blocks. They are transported to factories in which the blocks are sawn into tables with the necessary measures and finishes for their use in construction. 

Alterations that the materials have suffered

The main alterations are due to the pass of time and also due to other aspects such as pollution, to the constant change of  weather (wind, rain...), also it can be because there is not a regular follow-up of the state of the materials. 


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