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The site on which Almudena Cathedral now stands was originally occupied by Madrid's first mosque, then by a church dedicated to one of Madrid's patron saints, Santa María de la Almudena.

Plans for a grand new church began in the 16th century after King Philip II made Madrid the capital of Spain. But construction was constantly postponed due to various political issues and opposition from the powerful archdiocese of Toledo.

Finally, in 1868, Madrid received permission from Toledo to construct a new church dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena. Construction began in 1883 based on a Neo-Gothic design. The first part to be completed was the crypt, which contains a 16th-century image of Madrid's patroness the Virgen de la Almudena.

A year later, in 1884, Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Madrid, giving Madrid a bishop and raising the status of the new Almudena church to a cathedral. The building plans were updated to reflect the elevated status of the building.

Construction on the cathedral progressed slowly and came to a complete halt during the civil war of the 1930s. The process began again in 1944, when the new architect introduced a Neoclassical style that would match the Royal Palace next door.

Almudena Cathedral was completed in 1993 and consecrated in person by Pope John Paul II that same year. A statue of the pope in front of the cathedral commemorates the momentous occasion. The cathedral was given another publicity boost with the sumptuous wedding of Prince Felipe and Doña Letizia in May 2004, the first such royal event in nearly a century.

Source:http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/madrid-almudena-cathedral

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Additional Photos by Celso Marino (cmarino) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 443 W: 152 N: 323] (2490)
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