Real Hospicio de San Fernando


The Hospicio of San Fernando was built in the XVIII century. In this century, the political system was the Ancien Regime until the French Revolution in 1789. This century was characterized by the  wars between Protestants and Catholics. Madrid became the capital of an empire which included Italy, the Netherlands and India.

The original function was to give poor people a place to stay. Nowadays, is an historical Museum in which is exposed the historical and urbanistic development of Madrid between the XVI and the XX century.



During the XVIII century there were many economic changes that affected Europe, and as a consequence Spain. In the Middle Ages, there was low population growth. From the 17th century to the 18th century there was a massive increase of population because of the reduction of epidemics, wars and famines. As a result of the rural exodus, cities evolved.

The agriculture and industry developed because of the use of the new scientific knowledge and machinery.


At that time, Felipe V (the first king of the Bourbon Dynasty), ruled in Spain two times:

  1. 1700-1724: when he abdicated, his son Louis, and then he came back after his son’s death in this same year.
  2. The war of Succession started in 1701, caused by the disagreement of the Austria’s with Felipe’s reign. The war finished in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht.



During this system, the society was divided in estates:

  1. The clergy: was divided into the high and low clergy. They were privileged, literate and collected taxes.
  2. The noblemen: collected taxes and were privileged.
  3. The commoners: formed by the bourgeoisie and the peasants. They had to pay taxes and had less or even none privileges.

The structure of the society made difficult for Spain and Europe to develop economically. In this century, the absolute monarchy improved until it achieved it's maximum strength.


The passion according to St. Mateo.

Bach compossed this piece between 1727 and 1729. The final goal was to play it in The Good Friday.


At the begining, the Hospicio de San Fernando was situated in a small house in the Street of Santa Isabel. Due to the bad conditions, in the year 1674, it was moved to the Fuencarral Street. Fortyseven years later (1721). this houses were demolished so that the definitive building could be built. Of the first building, is only conserved the Chapel.

XXI century: the reform of the museum begins. This reform is the most important one since the fundation. Its facilities were renewed and has spaces dedicated for didactic activities and temporal exhibitions. The museum has created a museological project reconverting its collections so that the exhibition is more innovative and allows to show the historical and social evolution of Madrid.

Photo of the chapel:

Part of the exposition in floor number 0:


The façade

The artistic style of this building is Barroque. Inside this style, we can find the Churribaresque one. It shows the evolution from a Classicism to a new style with more and better decorative elements. The Baroque is a stage from the XVII to the first half of the XVIII, that leaves behind the idealism of Renaissance. During this period, it was highlighted the use of ornamentation and theatricality. The pessimistic character, which can be seen in any type of art, starts to take importance. Curved lines start to be used to show movement. “Horror Vacui”, it basically means horror to empty spaces. “Memento Mortem”, was a topic used in the Baroque that remembers that you will die.

At the entrance to the museum, we can find the portico. It is a segmental arch that goes up in the facade. We can divide the portico in three arches:

  1. The lower one: has geometrical forms and it is decorated with stripes.
  2. The middle part has a sculpture that shows Philip V, the monarch who reconstructed the building, as the helper of the poor people.
  3. The higher part: has contour curves that meet in a central point in the higher part of the facade.

The chapel and the gardens

In the chapel, we can find a painting made by Luca Giordano. The original name of the painting is "San Fernando ante la Virgen", "St. Ferdinand in front of the Virgin" in English. This masterpiece, dissapeared and was found with other aspect because other artist painted over it not because restoration, but because aesthetic. Between 1992 and 1993, a group of proffesionals removed this layer of paint and finally, it was pointed out the real painting

San Fernando ante la Virgen- Luca Giordano

Fuente de la Fama

Outside, in the gardens, we can visit the named "Fuente de la fama" that at the begening (300 ago aprox) was located in the Square of Antón Martín, was constructed with granite. The sculptures that sorround the fountain, are made up with piedra caliza and represents dolphins and 5 angels. At the top of the fountain, we can see the figure of the principal angel. This one receives the name of "Angel de la fama".



The brick is a construction element made with mud mass. It has a rectangular shape and allows to build walls and structures. The use of bricks began in the Neolithic. Today the bricks are built with clay and other minerals.

Clay: it is a mineral classified as phyllosilicates, due to its squamous habit. They are formed by the decomposition of some minerals because of an alteration. It has a smooth surface and tiny particles forming plasticity when it's mixed with water.


Granite is an igneous rock classified as plutonic due t its type of composition.It comes from magma, which hardens slowly inside the Earths crust, forming a solid free pore rock. This cooling creates crystals giving crystalline texture which characterizes granite. It is formed by quartz, feldspar and mica.

The portico of the entrance and the fountain are made up with it.


It is one of the most abundant mineral, forming the 50% of the Earth’s crust. It can be found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. There are many types of feldspar, but they have common properties:

  1. The hardness and gravity.
  2. They are mostly translucent or even opaque.
  3. And has a vitreous luster.


It is also one of the most abundant mineral, forming the 3.8% of the Earth’s crust. They are usually found in igneous and metamorphic rocks and are divided into 2 groups depending on its colour:  white or black. It can be used as a natural cosmetic, which gives brightness. It is made by this sheets characterised by its resistance.


This one is the most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust. It can be found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It's very resistant and its durability makes it a very useful mineral. It can be transparent or translucent which differs to feldspars, and has a vitreous luster.



Cadalso de los Vidrios


Colmenar Viejo