Royal Monastery of the Incarnation (Real Monasterio de la Encarnación)
To explore the Spanish Baroque monastery and chapel, a tour is your best bet. You follow a guide through this richly-decorated space that once served as a convent for women of royal lineage. You can view the art, gold and silver relics, and frescoes dotting its interior. Tours take about an hour, and you need a ticket to attend.
Since the monastery is located just steps from the Plaza De Oriente, it's worth strolling past and admiring the historic facade, even if you don't book a tour. You can also add on a stop at the Madrid Royal Palace, Sabatini Gardens, and Plaza Espana.
Things to know before you go
- The tour is best suited to visitors interested in religious history, since you can expect lots of detail.
- Art enthusiasts shouldn't miss the chapel's ceiling frescoes by artist Francisco Bayeu.
- The modest tour fee is waived for kids younger than five, teachers, and guests with disabilities.
- Travelers report that tours don't include English-language translation.
How to get there
Though architecture tours and some sightseeing outings pass the monastery (and the neighboring Royal Palace), you can also take the metro. Take the 3 or 10 lines to the Plaza de España station, or the 2 or 5 lines to the Ópera station. It's just a short walk from either station to the monastery, along the Plaza de la Encarnación.
When to get there
If you want to tour the building, be prepared for a crowd during Madrid's busy summer tourist season, and arrive early to secure a ticket. Otherwise, the monastery is open Tuesday to Saturday, and is closed for siesta. On Sundays and holidays, the monastery shutters by mid-afternoon. On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, self-guided tours are complimentary for citizens of the EU and Latin American countries.
What to See at the Madrid Royal Palace
Since it's just a few steps from the Royal Monastery of the Incarnation, you can easily add a stop at the Madrid Royal Palace. The 16th-century landmark is packed with art and antiquities that you can appreciate with a self-guided audio tour. Standouts include the Throne Room, an exhibit on the Crown Jewels of Spain, and the chapel's frescoed dome.
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- Cafe de Chinitas
- Sabatini Gardens (Jardines de Sabatini)
- Las Tablas Flamenco
- Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)
- Royal Palace of El Pardo (Palacio Real de El Pardo)
- Madrid Plaza de la Villa
- Gran Vía
- Plaza de Espana
- Plaza de Oriente
- Church of San Ginés (Iglesia de San Ginés)
- Almudena Cathedral (Catedral de la Almudena)
- Cerralbo Museum (Museo Cerralbo)
- San Miguel Market (Mercado de San Miguel)
- House Museum of Mouse Perez (Casa Museo de Ratón Pérez)
- Plaza Mayor