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Convent of Las Descalzas Reales
Country: SpainAddress: Plaza de las Descalzas 3, 28013 Madrid
Website: www.patrimonionacional.es Uploaded artworks: 1 Uploaded artist: 1
The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales is a royal monastery situated in Madrid, administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.
El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the Monastery of Barefoot Royals, resides in the former palace of Carlos I and Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter, Joan of Spain, founded this convent of Franciscan nuns in 1557. Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th century, the convent attracted young noblewomen that were either disappointed by love or looking for love in Christ. 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. TomĂˇs 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 literally starving, and the pope granted a special dispensation to open the convent as a museum.
Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and CĂˇdiz (died 1989) is buried in the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist next to his elder son Francisco (died 1984). Alfonso's younger brother Gonzalo (died 2000) is buried in the Chapel of Saint Sebastian.
Today the Monastery invites visitors into the once secret halls of Madrid's arguably most mysterious building. The noblewomen's dowries lie in the Reliquary. One is said to contain pieces from Christ's cross; another is said to carry the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian's Caesar's Money and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.
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