San Jerónimo el Real, which has undergone numerous remodelings and restorations over the centuries, is the remaining structure of the Hieronymite monastery that once stood beside the royal palace of Buen Retiro, of which a portion now serves as the Prado museum. Its proximity to the royal palace also underscores a connection to royalty, serving for centuries as the church used for the investiture of the Prince of Asturias.
The Hieronymus monastery had been built near the river Manzanares, during the reign of Henry IV of Castile in the neighborhood of the El Pardo palace. But suffering due to the marshiness of the site, during the reign of Isabella I, the Monastery of the Hieronymites was moved to a site next to an incipient royal palace. The new monastery was built in Isabelline Gothic style. The church was chosen for the investiture of the Princes of Asturias and future king Philip II on April 18, 1528.
King Philip II moved the Spanish court to Madrid in 1561, and had the retreat enlarged to become the Palacio del Buen Retiro. He established a royal bedroom against the presbytery, such that he could hear mass from his bedroom. The Palacio del Buen Retiro was largely destroyed in the Napoleonic French occupation of Madrid. In 1808 the monks were expelled from the monastery and French troops were quartered in the monastery, causing major damage to the building, and the church was almost left in ruins.
The first major restoration was performed during the reign of Isabel II of Spain, between 1848 and 1859, by the architect Narciso Pascual Colomer, in the Isabelline Gothic style, who added some new elements such as towers. The second restoration, 1879 to 1883, by Enrique María Repullés, created the building as a parish church. Only a few external features remain of its original structure. The exterior remodeling of the nineteenth century in a neo-Gothic style by Pontian Ponzano remains controversial.
The stairway that faces the street, was constructed in 1906 on the occasion of the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to provide more impressive access to the church. For many decades, the Baroque cloister, designed by Fray Lorenzo de San Nicolás, remained in disrepair. Finally, in 2007, an agreement between the church and the government led to the appropriation of the land for the cloister by the Prado Museum. The inner courtyard facade was dismantled, and then rebuilt as a cubic room, designed by Rafael Moneo in an expansion of the museum.
The church contains sculptures by Benlliure, Juan Pascual de Mena’s 18th-century Cristo de la Buena Muerte, and paintings by Vincenzo Carducci and José Méndez, neo-Gothic lamps and stained-glass windows.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.