San Francisco el Grande


The Neoclassic style basilica was founded in the second half of the XVIII century.

It has the third largest semi-circular Christian dome, fully decorated in an eclectic style. It also has a collection of great Spanish paintings from the XVII century including paintings by Goya and Zurbaran. 

The site was previously occupied by a Franciscan convent chapel, which according to legend, was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1217.

When King Philip II named Madrid the capital of the kingdom in 1561, the convent gained wealth and importance, and came to receive custody of holy places conquered by Crusaders by a Board of Protection of the Pious Work of Jerusalem, and the Commissariat General de Indias.


In 1760, the Franciscans demolished the original building to build a larger temple on its site commissioned to the architect Ventura Rodriguez. His project, signed in 1761, was dismissed in favor of a design by the friar Francisco Cabezas. The design includes a wide round interior, covered by a magnificent dome.


In 1776, the community of monks asked King Charles III to request architect Francesco Sabatini to join the project, and it is he who is responsible for the main facade and two towers that crown the temple.


In 1836, after the seizure of Mendizabal, the Franciscans were expelled and the building fell into the hands of the Spanish State, through the Royal Heritage board. A year later, the possibility of turning it into the National Pantheon was considered, but the initiative did not materialize. In 1838, it served as headquarters of infantry barracks and began worship again, and the Protection Board of Pious Works of Jerusalem fell under the ownership of the state.

In 1869, they took up the idea of ​​the National Pantheon. During the next five years, it housed the remains of different figures in Spanish history, including Calderon de la Barca, Alonso de Ercilla, Garcilaso de la Vega, Francisco de Quevedo, Ventura Rodríguez, Juan de Villanueva and Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba (Grand Master). They were deposited in a chapel in 1874 and later returned to their places of origin.

In 1926, King Alfonso XIII returned the temple to the Franciscans and on June 30, 1962 it was declared a Minor Basilica by Pope John XXIII.