And the weather was…

Thursday, March 22nd

The Madrid Opera House

It was very cold Thursday morning: 28 degrees. But it warmed up nicely and later in the afternoon it reached the mid 50s. The sky was a deep blue (not New Mexico blue, of course) and there was little wind. A good way for us to remember Madrid,

But it was cold enough in the morning that we did not go outside to find breakfast. Instead, we ate in the hotel. I had churros and hot chocolate for the first time. Churros, a sweet Spanish snack consisting of a strip of fried dough dusted with sugar or cinnamon, dipped in hot, thick, chocolate, are something I’ll keep my eyes out for in Santa Fe from now on.

Iglesia San Nicolás

We wanted to find the Iglesia San Nicolás today. It is the oldest church in Madrid. It dates back to at least 1202. We knew that it is only open for limited hours, but we wanted to at least see the outside. It was a pleasant walk to the church, in part because it was mostly downhill. When we found the church, which is on a small plaza, we saw that the facade is very plain. The doors were also plain and solid and locked tight. Well, we thought, we can come back this evening, since the church is supposed to be open from 6:30 to 8:30.

The Military Cathedral” Iglesia Catedral Castrense

We walked another block and found the Catedral Castrense (also known as Iglesia del Sacramento). It dates back to the 1600s and it is the “Military Cathedral of Spain” and its archbishop is the “Military Archbishop of Spain.” [More research is needed, clearly.] It, too, was locked up tight but I did get some pictures of the exterior.

Catedral Almendena

Next, we walked a couple of blocks to another cathedral. This one is the royal cathedral.  It’s proper name is Catedral de Almundena. It dates back only to the late 1800s. Patricia and I often like the really old churches and cathedrals (Notre Dame, Seville, etc.) because they often have a “feel” to them. Before we went in, we thought that this cathedral might be too new and sterile to be interesting. I am pleased to report that it was anything but.

Interior of Catedral Almundena

It is quite large. The interior is light with many colorful stained glass windows. There are many chapels off the main nave with nice altars, pictures, and artifacts. For part of the time there was good music being played over a sound system. There is also a very large organ which I would like to hear/see played.

The cathedral contains the statue of the Virgin of Almundena (hence the cathedral’s name). The statue dates back to at least 1083.

La Virgen de Almundena is the patron saint of Madrid

We greatly enjoyed our visit to the cathedral and I took many, many pictures.

For the first time since the start of our trip we were able to sit outside and enjoy a meal. From the looks of my forehead this evening, I may have enjoyed the sun a little too much.

Back at the hotel we took a break while I finished my previous post. then we headed back to San Nicolás because the church’s website said it would be open for a couple of hours after 6:30. It wasn’t. In fact, it doesn’t look like it is open very often at all although there is a schedule for masses.

We looked down the street to Iglesia Sacramento and saw that it’s doors were open so we headed there. But as we got closer we could see that we were not going to be able to get into that church, either. The people going in were dressed to the nines and the men standing outside all wore suits and had military and religious medals on their chests. There was clearly an event going on and the church was nearly full.

But it was a nice walk.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped for an early (7:30 pm) dinner at a little place next to the opera house.

Now it is about 9:00 and I am going to end this, the last post from Spain. We have to get up before 5:00 am in the morning to get our flights to Atlanta and on to Albuquerque.

Here is the track of today’s walk in Madrid. What it can’t show is the nice weather, which made walking today so pleasant.

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