IES San Isidro

By Yves Custeau – Vivaldi Rock Spring
Original song by Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring


This building was built in 1561, because  Felipe II wanted to move the court to  Madrid. The leader of the Jesuit Order (San Francisco Javier) discovered these thanks to the Duke of Feria, so he saw it necessary that a school was built in the new capital. Firstly, the council of Madrid didn’t want it to be built because the city already had the ”Estudios de la Villa,” but the Jesuits had so much power that the council of Madrid finally granted their permission.

360º picture of the IES San Isidro’s exterior:

360º picture of the IES San Isidro’s cloister:

In the early years of the XVII century, Mary of Austria and Portugal died, and in her will and testament, she gave money to the Jesuit Order, so the IES San Isidro became more important. In 1609, it acquired the title of ”Imperial.”

When Madrid grew more important, the city needed an university, so Philip IV wanted to convert the IES San Isidro into an university, but the Universities of Salamanca and Alcalá didn’t want that because they would lose their popularity. So, in the end, this building continued to be just a high school.

When it was built, this building was called ”Colegio Imperial de Madrid” o ”Reales Estudios de San Isidro.” The function of this building has been the same since it was built: a school.

It is considered the oldest secondary school of Spain, and one of the oldest in the world.

A lot of famous writers and poets have studied in this school such as Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

This school has an old museum in which there is a recreation of an old class, several dissected animals and other rooms of interest.


The facade of this school looks overdecorated with split pediments, shields and flower motifs. Spanish architects combined extravagant sculptures with Baroque elements.

In the entrance, there is a mosaic displayed on one of the walls.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), part of the building suffered damages, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s when a restoration was carried out. The only remaining old parts of the school are the facade, the cloister and the imperial stairs. The other parts were destroyed to build a new building.

The actual state of conservation is good, so people can study there.


The IES San Isidro is made up of granite, which is an igneous plutonic rock. These rocks are formed when magma cools down slowly beneath the Earth’s crust, due to that they form crystals.  It is a  granular and phaneritic in texture, and it can be white and pink but it is usually gray.

Resultado de imagen de lamina de granito microscopica+

IES San Isidro is made up of granite, an igneous plutonic rock. These rocks are formed whenever magma cools down slowly beneath the Earth’s crust and crystals are formed. It is granular and phaneritic in texture. It is usually gray, although it can also white and pink.

We could not find any information about the materials that compose the roof of this building. However, as many other buildings of this period use slate, we can assume that this roof is also made up of slate. Slate is a foliated metamorphic rock. These rocks are formed under conditions of high pressure and heat. Slate is usually black in color.

Granite was chosen to build this school because it is a durable material that is highly resistant to damage and it also gives an impression of elegance. Another reason that slate was chosen is because it is waterproof, ensuring that the roof would not be damaged from heavy rains.

The granite extracted in Madrid comes from two quarries. The first is located to the east of Madrid and the second is located in a town called Zarzalejo. We could not find any information about how they transported the rocks from these places but we suppose that they used horses and carts.

Granite and slate have undergone alterations due to acid rain. The levels of pollution are typically higher in cities and because of this, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are released into the atmosphere. Whenever these gases mix with water in the clouds, acids are formed. These acid rains cause the rocks to slowly erode.


By Víctor Nieto, Iván Carcaboso, Paula Fernández and Sara Gómez.