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Basilica de San Miguel

Basilica Ponitificia de San Miguel, Madrid

This remarkable building is unusual in Spanish baroque architecture for its Italian influence and its convex facade. Officially known as the Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel, it was built between 1739 and 1745 on the instructions of Luis Antonio de Borbón y Farnesio, Archbishop of Toledo. In the 20th century, the Opus Dei took charge of the basilica, and added a crypt.

The main architect of Basilica de San Miguel was the Italian, Santiago Bonavia, who was brought to Madrid in 1731 by Phillip V. Despite being a relatively small building, it is a significantly important one in architectural terms as an example of Spanish Baroque. The façade has a unique convex shape, which is rare in Spain and the only example in Madrid. On November 28th in 1984, Basilica de San Miguel was declared a National Historical Monument by Royal Decree.

The interior of the church is especially interesting for its decorated cupola with frescoes by Bartolomé Rusca, but the subtle architecture of the whole interior is well worth a visit. A second dedication to St. Michael was added to the Basilica during the time of Joseph Bonaparte, and St. Michael eventually became the sole subject of dedication of the church.

Incorporated into the façade of the building are sculptures by Roberto Michel and Nicolás Carisana, and in the entrance is a bas-relief by Carisana, showing the martyrdom of the Saints Justo and Pastor, to whom the church was originally dedicated.

Justo and Pastor are Spanish saints, who were martyred at the ages of only seven and nine by the Roma Governor Daciano during the spate of executions by the Emperor Diocletian. Their remains were taken to France when the Moors ruled Spain, but centuries later were returned to Alcala de Henares, the place of their martyrdom.

The 18th century Italian composer, Liugi Boccherini was originally buried at the Basilica de San Miguel. However, the Italian dictator of the mid 20th century, Mussolini, ordered his remains to be returned to Italy, which they were in 1927.

Basilica de San Miguel is in Calle San Justo, number 4, next to the Archbishop's Palace. It is in an area of the city known as Old Madrid. The church is a short distance to the southwest of Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

Visiting Basilica de San Miguel involves an easy walk from the centre of the city. There are no Metro stations close by, but Opera to the north, Sol to the northeast, La Latina to the south, and Tirso de Molina to the southeast, all lie within reasonable walking distance of Basilica de San Miguel.

 

 

 

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