Madrid’s Basilica de San Francisco El Grande:
From the external facade of the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande (Basilica of Saint Francis the Great) you could be forgiven for not being inquisitive about this church – its exterior is rather plain. But once you step inside, a different picture unfolds. This Madrid basilica is one of the city’s important church buildings. Its dome is the largest in Spain and is even larger than that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Basilica of Saint Francis is filled with paintings and sculptures which any art lovers will find a treat.
Located in La Latina, an older part of Madrid, the Basilica de San Francisco was completed in 1760 under the auspices of Carlos III. It sits on the site of a Franciscan convent, believed to have been founded in 1217 by St. Francis of Assisi.
Features of Basilica de San Francisco
Inside the Basilica, you can see the imposing 33-metre (108 feet) dome and the barrel vaulted ceiling.
Covered in a dazzling range of frescoes and with extraordinary stained-glass windows, the Basilica is said to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain.
Though the church was built in the mid-18th century, many of the contents are considerably older, such as the Gothic choir stalls from Segovia, dating from the 16th century.
There are seven main doors elaborately carved out of walnut and these lead to several chapels filled with art treasures.
Art at the Basilica of St Francis
One of the three chapels, the Chapel of San Bernardino de Siena, holds a magnificent Goya painting depicting the saint. To the right of that Goya is another painting, a self-portrait of the artist himself.
Within the chapels are dozens of paintings and sculptures by master painters and others. Besides Goya, there are paintings by Zurbarán, Cano and Maella as well as marble sculptures by Bellver and Benlliure.
The Basilica de San Francisco El Grande is a functioning cathedral which offers a fascinating tour for art lovers.
Getting to the Basilica:
The Basilica is located in the Plaza de San Francisco el Grande. There is a nearby Metro stop at La Latina or Puerta del Toledo and several buses stop at or near the church.
Tues – Fri: 11:00 – 12:30 and 16:00 – 18:30
Sat : 11:00 – 12:00
Basilica de San Francisco El Grande
Plaza de San Francisco
Map of Madrid: