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History of the Virgen de la Almudena, patron saint of Madrid

November 9th is the Virgen de la Almudena day, who was the patron saint of the city of Madrid and, therefore, a major holiday for the city. It may be that you have already heard about this famous saint and even know, either through photographs or in person, the related cathedral that this saint is located in. However, few know its history, that's why we, from Engel & Völkers, want to tell you all about it. 

The origin of the Virgen de la Almudena

The first thing we want to do is make a clarification about this icon's name. Obviously, based on the origins of his name, it can be said that Almudena is clearly an Arabic word that, according to various historians and Arabs, comes from the word 'al-mudayna'. Specifically, this was used to refer to the walls that surrounded the town, and today, these walls can be seen around the cathedral and Royal Palace.

According to tradition, the image of Santa María de la Real de la Almudena was found in 1085 by King Alfonso VI of León in one of the towers attached to the city's Arab wall, although it was named Virgin Mary. Although the exact discovery date of this icon is not known, it was noted that Archbishop Raimundo de Toledo ordered to hide it three centuries before his discovery.

It is usually estimated that the original size icon dates from the 8th century. However, there were countless legends based around this saint. The first ones affirmed that it was hidden within the walls until the year 712 when the city was taken by the Arabs and during the reign of Alfonso VI, after several days of prayers, the spot on the wall that was hiding the icon broke, revealing the statue that had been hidden for many centuries. Also, others claim that it was Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, who actually found the statue. 

Madrid - almudena

Foto: © Engel & Völkers Madrid

The current image of the Virgen de la Almudena and the cathedral

All these legends caused Madrid's locals to hold a special love for the icon, which led him to become the patron saint of the city. However, it has not been preserved to this day. The current icon corresponds to the works of late Gothic era and it is estimated that it was made between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is believed that it is the work of Sebastián de Almonacid and Diego Copín de Holanda, two prestigious sculptors from Toledo origin in the 15th century, but no-one knows for sure.

Since the Royal Court was established in Madrid in the sixteenth century, there were continuous attempts to build a proper cathedral for the Spanish capital of such an empire. However, interestingly, none of these attempts came to fruition. In fact, it was not until 1883 that the cathedral's construction began and ended in 1993 with the consecration of Juan Pablo II.

We hope you have found this article about the patron saint of Madrid useful. We should let you know that our Engel & Völkers' offices on Genova Street and Tampico will be closed on November 9th, but we will be at your service in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Aravaca and Las Rozas.

Engel & Völkers

Génova, 27 - 5th floor
28004 Madrid
+34 91 277 45 00

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