Palacio de Santa Cruz

Palacio de Santa Cruz is located at number 1, Plaza de la Provincia in Madrid. It is currently the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de España). It was designed by principle architect Juan Gomez de Mora, helped by architects, Josè Villareal, Josè del Olmo, and Bartholomew Hurtado García, and was built by Juan Bautista Crescendi between the years of 1629 and 1636.

It is a building with twin high-spire towers, one at each end, and it is made of red brick. The building is rectangular with two courtyards symmetrically placed, allowing natural light to enter the interior. It is perhaps the best example of Habsburg architecture in the Spanish capital.

King Felipe IV commissioned the building as headquarters of the offices of the Casa Court and the Prison Court, as well as the Board of Mayors. It is located immediately southeast of the Plaza Mayor in the historic city centre that is still known as Habsburg Madrid.

Palacio de Santa Cruz originally served as a royal prison. There were thousands who languished here, waiting for a verdict from the infamous Spanish Inquisition. Unfortunately for the majority of them, it usually ended with a short trip to the nearby Plaza Mayor where they were executed.

The Madrileños, the people of Madrid, of the era had a euphemism for those who went to prison here. They referred to the experience as, "sleeping under the angel," a reference to the statue of an angel that sits atop the central raised portion of the façade above the main door. Among the better known individuals who "slept under the angel" were, bandit Luis Candelas, playwright Lope de Vega, and General Riego.

In 1791 fire swept through Palacio de Santa Cruz and destroyed it almost completely, except for its facade. It was rebuilt, but another fire in 1846 require more extensive renovation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain took over the building in 1901, but even more renovation was needed following the ravages of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, and this was completed in 1940.

Palacio de Santa Cruz is an easy building to visit, though it is not open to the public. It lies near the centre of Madrid and is therefore within easy walking distance from well-known major features of the city such as the Plaza Mayor, lying to the immediate northwest, and Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, lying a short distance away to the northeast. The nearest Metro station is Opera, lying a short walk away to the northwest.