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:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.