A brief history: Madrid took over as Spain’s capital city in 1561, but the seat of the Church remained in the former, Toledo. This meant, somewhat controversially, that the new capital of the Catholic Spain had no cathedral. Although plans for a new cathedral were discussed as early as the 16th century, but it wasn’t until 1879 that construction actually began. Dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena, the Gothic revival style cathedral was finally completed in 1993, which explains its modern interior design.
Call me sad, but personally I’m a big fan of this cathedral and it’s a great visit for when friends come to visit due to its close proximity to the Royal Palace (two birds one stone?). It’s also free to enter although you are supposed to leave a small donation.
The Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande is not only a mouthful, but also another of Madrid’s important churches. Again fairly new, it was designed by Francisco Cabezas and constructed in the second half of the 18th century. The inside of the cathedral was completed at the end of the 19th centrury, and could be described as somwhat eclectic.The church boasts a fairly extensive art collection, which includes the works of Zurbarán and Goya. From Tuesday to Friday you can visit between 11.00-12.30 and then from 16.00-18.30 and then on Saturdays from 11.00-13.30.
So if you ever feel like you should be doing something a little more cultural, why not check them out. As with most things in Madrid, the two are within a short walking distance of eachother so you could easily visit both in one day. Enjoy!