Welcome to Madrid
Founded by Felipe III, this baroque church only opens during Mass but is well worth a visit for its stunning frescoes. Currently, the Real Hermandad del Refugio y Piedad de Madrid is responsible for worship there, as well as organising visits in the mornings from Monday to Saturday.
The church, built at the beginning of the 17th century, and the adjacent building were initially used by Felipe III as a refuge and hospital for the Portuguese immigrants who came to Madrid. Hence, the original name San Antonio de los Portugueses. However, when Portugal became independent from Spain in 1640 the buildings stopped accommodating travellers and remained empty till 1689. In that year Queen Mariana of Austria reopened it, this time to the community of Catholic Germans who were close to her daughter-in-law Maria Anna of Neuberg, wife of King Charles II. From that moment on it was know as the San Antonio de los Alemanes (Saint Anthony of the Germans).
Built in the Baroque style, it was designed by architect Pedro Sánchez. Its interior is truly striking thanks to the frescoes which cover the church in its entirety. Painted in various stages, they are the work of a number of artists including Luca Giordano – who also painted frescoes in the Monastery of El Escorial and in the Casón del Buen Retiro – Juan Carreño de Miranda and Francisco Rizi, whose work can also be found in Toledo’s cathedral and in the Descalzas Reales Monastery.