Iglesia de Santa Bárbara, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Are you planning an upcoming trip to Madrid, the thriving capital of Spain, and currently in the process of creating an itinerary—a list of things to do and see during your visit? Have you yet to come across the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara, one of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful churches? If not, the following information may be very helpful. Here we have compiled some important facts regarding the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara, including its location, history and some of the unique architectural characteristics included in its design.

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara

The opportunity to view historical monuments and churches is one of the many reasons why thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to Spain’s capital city of Madrid each year. One such building has become particularly popular among locals and visitors alike, the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara.

The Iglesia de Santa Bárbara, or Church of Santa Barbara, was founded in 1748 by Queen Barbara of Braganza, the wife of Ferdinand VI, and is one of the most majestic examples of architecture in Madrid. The original design for this architectural complex, which included a monastery, church and convent, was completed by Francisco Carlier and Francisco Moradillo and its construction spanned from 1740 until it was finally completed in 1748. The monastery was founded as a boarding school for young nobles of the time, but it was subsequently readapted for use as a courthouse and is now the site of the Spanish Supreme Court. The church portion of the complex is home to the Catholic parish of Iglesia de Santa Bárbara.

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara was built in the Baroque-Rococo style; a style which was widely used in the mid 18th century. It is built of brick and masonry and features a main facade in the form of a triple portico, accented by a pediment and towers at the sides. Upon those towers are sculpted reliefs by the Italian craftsman Olivieri, and by Alfonso Giraldo. Tourists who visit the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara will find particularly interesting the tombs of the founding Queen and her husband King Ferdinand VI. These were designed by renowned Italian architect Francisco Sabatini, and were constructed by Francisco Gutierrez and Juan de Leon using marble and porphyry. The church is also the site of the tomb of General Leopoldo O’Donnell—a tomb designed and constructed in Carrara marble by Jerónimo Suñol Pujol in the 1870s.

Located on the Calle del General Castanos, the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara has many interesting architectural features. The large courtyard that houses the entrance, for example, is ideal for guests who are waiting to enter the church and for offering congratulations (or condolences) once the mass or a particular ceremony—baptism, wedding, funeral—has concluded. The church is a favorite spot among young couples for weddings, mostly because of the facade that features two intricately carved staircases in the church’s interior. These are simply perfect for a bride on her special day, allowing her to literally descend into the church towards the altar, with the entire congregation watching with pride and admiration.

The exterior of the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara is also a splendid sight, featuring a number of composite pilasters and statues of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances Fremiot at the front of the church, both made by the sculptor Alfonso Giraldo Bergaz in the neo-classical style.

Visitors planning to tour the church can do so seven days a week providing there is not a mass or other event in progress, however guided tours must be scheduled in advance.