The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida (also known just as St. Anthony of La Florida) is a small church but with great importance for Spanish and Madrilenian culture. It is linked to some of the most important personalities of the country’s history, such as the architect Francesco Sabatini, King Charles IV and the painter Francisco de Goya.
St. Anthony of La Florida is located in southern Madrid, close to Principe Pío station. So, visitors can get there by train, by subway (Lines 6, 10 and shuttle Opera-Principe Pio) and by bus, as many bus lines travel along Paseo de La Florida, the boulevard where St. Anthony of La Florida stands.
St. Anthony of La Florida is surrounded by three big parks: southward, Madrid Rio, an urban park that spreads along the Manzanares river. Northward, the Parque del Oeste (the Park of the West), a nice green area where visitors can enjoy great panoramas of the city and the Egyptian Debod Temple. West of St. Anthony of La Florida spreads the Bombilla park, where the City Hall sets an open air cinema in summer.
History of St. Anthony of La Florida
St. Anthony of La Florida was built in the late 18th century, between 1792 and 1798. This building is of Neoclassical style but influenced by the late Madrilenian Baroque. That’s why St. Anthony of La Florida reminds us of other churches of the city, like the Royal Basilica of San Francisco El Grande.
St. Anthony of La Florida is named the Royal Chapel because its construction was ordered by the King Charles IV, who bought this land in the second half of the 18th century. This chapel was part of a big and green estate, which also included a palace, gardens, fountains and a pigeon house. Nowadays, St. Anthony of La Florida is the only building left from that royal estate.
This is the third chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida. There were two other chapels before: the one built by José Benito de Churriguera in the early 18th century, the one erected by Francesco Sabatini in 1768 and this one, projected by the Italian architect Filippo Fontana.
Goya, tightly linked to St. Anthony of La Florida
St. Anthony of La Florida is widely known for being linked to the name of Francisco de Goya. The Spanish artist painted the frescoes of the cupola, a highlight in his career that shows us the expressionist style that defined his later works. The subject of these frescoes of St. Anthony of La Florida is the miracles of this saint from Padua.
St. Anthony of La Florida also serves as a pantheon, being the burial place for Francisco de Goya’s remains since 1919. In fact, this chapel is now a small museum where tourists can visit for free from Tuesday to Sunday and from 9.30am to 8pm.
A twin Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida aside
Tourists wonder why there is a twin chapel aside St. Anthony of La Florida: this building was built in 1925 and serves as a church since then, as the original one remains for touristic visits. In this twin chapel, Madrilenian girls who want to get married carry out a tradition: every June 13th, they come to St. Anthony of La Florida and put their hands on the baptismal font, where there are several pins. The number of pins nailed on the palm marks the number of wooers they’ll find.
That day, the boulevard and the chapels become the epicentre of the S. Anthony of La Florida festivities, when Madrilenians eat ‘churros’ and dance the ‘chotis’.