San Jerónimo el Real (St Geromimo the Royal), is the church of the former monastery of St. Jerome the Royal, a very important church of Madrid, Spain. It is the church very closely associated with the Spanish Monarchy, a national monument since 1925.
The Spanish Royal Family built a retreat at the monastery, in the eastern part of the church. Here the king could withdraw during Lent, at times of mourning, bringing the court with him. The retreat was popular with the Royal family, and the church was chosen for the swearing in of the Princes of Asturias and heirs to the crown, the first of which was Philip II on April 18 1528.
King Philip II (r. 1556-1598) moved the Spanish court to Madrid in 1561, and had the retreat enlarged to become the Palacio del Buen Retiro. The Palacio was greatly increased in size in the 1630’s. The Palacio was largely destroyed in the War of Independence against Napoleon’s army. 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 decrees exclaustration of 1836 led to the temporary closure of the church. Ruined and abandoned, the church was the subject of restoration work during the second half of the nineteenth century. The first, between 1848 and 1859, by the architect Narciso Colomer Pascual added some new elements such as towers. The second, 1879 to 1883, by Henry and Mary Repullés Vargas, launched a final restoration of the building as the parish church. Only a few external features remain from its early days. The exterior was hardest hit by the reforms of the nineteenth century conducted by Pontian Ponzano in neo-Gothic style, branded by many as ridiculous.
The stairway that faces the street, was constructed in 1906 on the occasion of the wedding of Alfonso XIII to provide more impressive access to the church.
In recent times the cloisters were controversially demolished for the expansion of El Prado Museum.
Inside, there are several valuable works of art, such as sculptures by Benlliure, Juan Pascual de Mena’s 18th-century Cristo de la Buena Muerte, famous paintings by Carducho and José Méndez, neo-Gothic lamps and stained-glass windows.