Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

Last updated
For the monastery in Valladolid, see Convent of Las Descalzas Reales (Valladolid).
Convent of las Descalzas Reales
Native name
Spanish: Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Madrid) 07.jpg
Location Madrid, Spain
Coordinates 40°25′06″N3°42′22″W / 40.418267°N 3.706192°W / 40.418267; -3.706192 Coordinates: 40°25′06″N3°42′22″W / 40.418267°N 3.706192°W / 40.418267; -3.706192
Official name: Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Reference no.RI-51-0008691
Spain location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Convent of las Descalzas Reales in Spain

The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales (Spanish : Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales) is a royal monastery situated in Madrid, Spain, administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.



The church Madrid PM 80932 E.jpg
The church
Cloister Madrid Monasterio De Las Descalzas Reales Cloitre - panoramio.jpg
Paintings in the cloister Las Descalzas Reales2.jpg
Paintings in the cloister

The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the "Monastery of the Royal Barefooted", resides in the former palace of Emperor Charles V and Empress Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter, Joanna of Austria, founded this convent of nuns of the Poor Clare order in 1559. [1] Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th century, the convent attracted young widowed or spinster noblewomen. Each woman brought with her a dowry. The riches quickly piled up, and the convent became one of the richest convents in all of Europe. Tomás Luis de Victoria, Spain's finest Renaissance composer, worked at the convent from 1587 to the end of his life in 1611.

The demographics of the convent slowly changed over time, and by the 20th century, all of the sisters were in poverty. The convent maintained the riches of its past, but it was forbidden to auction any of the items off or spend any of the money it received from the dowries. The state intervened when it saw that the sisters were poor, and the pope granted a special dispensation to open the convent as a museum in 1960. [2]

Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz (died 1989) is buried in the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist next to his elder son Francisco de Asís (died 1984). Alfonso's younger brother Gonzalo (died 2000) is buried in the Chapel of Saint Sebastian. [3]


While in the past, the treasures of the monastery were not visible, today the monastery houses only a few nuns, and the site is a well-visited national monument. The noblewomen's dowries were often invested into relics and their bejeweled exhibition pieces. Among the many relics on display are putatively pieces from Christ's cross and the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian's Caesar's Money, tapestries woven to designs by Rubens, [4] and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.

The museum collection also includes such rarities as portraits of royal children of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the late 16th century, [5] referring to Polish–Spanish relations that inspired Calderón's La vida es sueño . [6] Portraits of the son and daughter of King Sigismund of Poland were painted by Martin Kober in 1596 and were sent as a gift to King Philip III of Spain. [5]

The Church

The original architect of the church was Antonio Sillero. The facade was designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo in 1559; who also helped in the roofing of the church. Parts of the altar, choir, and sacristy, were designed by Juan Gómez de Mora in 1612. [7] Gaspar Becerra in 1562 completed the main retablo of the altar, which was considered his master work. Unfortunately, this retablo was destroyed by fire in 1862, along with many of the paintings and frescoes by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz. In 1863 the altar was replaced by one commissioned in 1716 by Philip V of Spain to commemorate the beatification of the French Jesuit John Francis Regis, including canvases by Michel-Ange Houasse. It has a sculpted relief of the Apotheosis of Juan Francisco Régis, by Camillo Rusconi. The lateral panels were sculpted by Jose Bellver. The recumbent statue of the Jesuit was sculpted by Agostino Cornacchini. [3] A chapel contains the marble statue of Joanna of Austria at prayer, by either Pompeo Leoni or Crescenci. [4]

Related Research Articles

Poblet Monastery Monastery in Spain

The Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet is a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1151, located at the foot of the Prades Mountains, in the comarca of Conca de Barberà, in Catalonia (Spain). It was founded by Cistercian monks from France on lands conquered from the Moors. The main architect was Arnau Bargués.

Tourism in Spain

Tourism in Spain is the third major contributor to national economic life after the industrial and the business/banking sectors, contributing about 10–11% of Spain's GDP. Ever since the 1960s and 1970s, the country has been a popular destination for summer holidays, especially with large numbers of tourists from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Benelux, and the United States, among others. Accordingly, Spain's foreign tourist industry has grown into the second-biggest in the world.

El Escorial Monastery and historical residence of the King of Spain

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as Monasterio del Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital. It is situated 2.06 km (1.28 mi) up the valley from the town of El Escorial.

Spanish royal sites

The Royal Sites are a set of palaces, monasteries, and convents built for and under the patronage of the Spanish monarchy. They are administered by Patrimonio Nacional (National Heritage), a Spanish state agency; most are open to the public, at least in part, except when they are needed for state or official events.

Joanna of Austria, Princess of Portugal Princess of Portugal

Joanna of Austria was Princess of Portugal by marriage to John Manuel, Prince of Portugal. She served as regent of Spain to her brother Philip II of Spain during his trip to England to marry Mary I in 1554-1556, and from 1556 to 1559. She was the mother of King Sebastian of Portugal.

Juan Bautista de Toledo Spanish artist

Juan Bautista de Toledo was a Spanish architect. He was educated in Italy, in the Italian High Renaissance. As many Italian renaissance architects, he had experience in both architecture and military and civil public works. Born, either in Toledo or in Madrid around 1515. He died on 19 May 1567 in Madrid, and was buried in Madrid in the choir of the primitive “Convento de Santo Tomás, Iglesia de la Santa Cruz”.

Patrimonio Nacional Spanish state agency

Patrimonio Nacional is a Spanish agency, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Presidency, that administers the sites owned by the Spanish State and used by the Monarch and the Spanish Royal Family as residences and for State Ceremonies. The Patrimonio Nacional includes palaces, gardens, monasteries and convents, called the Royal sites. When not in official use, the Royal sites are open to the public. It also manages the residences of the president of the government of Spain.

Earliest 16th-century monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl human settlement

The Earliest 16th-century monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl are fourteen 16th-century monasteries which were built by the Augustinians, the Franciscans and the Dominicans in order to evangelize the areas south and east of the Popocatépetl volcano in central Mexico. These monasteries were recognized by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1994, because they served as the model for the early monastery and church buildings as well as evangelization efforts in New Spain and some points beyond in Latin America. These monasteries almost uniformly feature a very large atrium in front of a single nave church with a capilla abierta or open chapel. The atrium functioned as the meeting point between the indigenous peoples and the missionary friars, with mass for the newly converted held outdoors instead of within the church. This arrangement can be found repeated in other areas of Mexico as these friars continued to branch out over New Spain.

Antonio Fernández Arias was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period.

Royal Monastery of La Encarnación monastery

The Real Monasterio de la Encarnación is a convent of the order of Recolet Augustines located in Madrid, Spain. The institution mainly interned women from noble families, and was founded by the Queen Margaret of Austria, wife of Philip III, and thus was well endowed with wealth. Although it belongs to an enclosed religious order, the building is open to the public under the administration of the Patrimonio Nacional.

Convento de Las Descalzas Reales, Valladolid Church in Castile and León, Spain

The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is a monastery located in Valladolid, in Castile and León, Spain. Literally the Monastery of the Barefoot Royals, the name refers to the practice of the usage of the Colettine branch of the Order of St. Clare to be barefoot while within the cloister. This monastery is to be distinguished from a similarly named one in Madrid of the same Order.

Sobrado Abbey Cistercian monastery in Galiza, Spain

Sobrado Abbey, is a Cistercian monastery in the province of La Coruña, Galicia, Spain. It is situated in the municipality of Sobrado, about 9 km east of Corredoiras and about 46 km southeast of Betanzos, at an altitude of 540 m above sea level.

The Flemish chapel was one of two choirs employed by Philip II of Spain, the other being the Spanish chapel.

Monastery of San Salvador de Oña monastery

The Monastery of San Salvador was a Benedictine monastery in the town of Oña, in the province of Burgos, central Spain, founded in 1011, which lasted until the 19th century.

Monasteries in Spain have a rich artistic and cultural tradition, and serve as testament to Spain's religious history and political-military history, from the Visigothic Period to the Middle Ages. The monasteries played an important role in the recruitment conducted by Christian aristocracy during and after the progress of the Reconquista, with the consequent decline in the Muslim south of the peninsula.

Matías Juan de Veana was a Spanish composer. He was chapelmaster both at the Real Monasterio de la Encarnación and at the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in Madrid, and became known for his villancicos.

Monastery of San Isidro de Loriana

The Monastery of San Isidro de Loriana was a sixteenth-century Franciscan monastery. It is located in the municipality of Mérida, Spain, in Badajoz, in the Cordobilla de Lácara, within the Sierra de San Pedro. The municipalities of La Roca de la Sierra and Puebla de Obando are nearby. San Isidro de Loriana was declared Bien de Interés Cultural on 12 November 2013 in the category of monument. It is an example of Franciscan architecture.

San Benito el Real, Valladolid cultural property in Valladolid, Spain

The Church of the Monastery of San Benito el Real is a parish church and former Benedictine monastery located in the city of Valladolid, Castile and León, Spain.


  1. "Convent of Las Descalzas Reales". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  2. "Convent of Las Descalzas Reales". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  3. 1 2 Vega, Paulina Junquera de (1962). The monastery convent of the Descalzas Reales: Guide-book for sightseers;. Editorial Patrimonio Nacional.
  4. 1 2 TURESPAÑA (2007-04-23). "Convent of Las Descalzas Reales in Madrid | USA". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  5. 1 2 Karolina Lipczyńska-Wawer. "Wystawa z kolekcji Patrimonio Nacional". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  6. Michael Cohen. "Segismundo, Sigismundo, and the Power in Europe" (PDF). Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  7. "Convent of the "Descalzas Reales"". Retrieved 2018-06-08.