If I were to judge simply by the number of times I’ve gone to visit, this would have to be my favorite spot in Madrid. Everyone describes it as “out of the way”, but it is a 20-minute walk from the Royal Palace and definitely worth it. It is the Royal Chapel of St Anthony of La Florida (Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida), which happens to be the site of Goya’s tomb but (more importantly) was decorated by Goya himself in ceiling and dome frescoes that represent the most joyous and luminous of his oeuvre. It is famous for his girl-angels in their gold-embroidered flowing gowns. It is a sight to see.
The chapel has been a national monument since 1905 and in 1928 an identical chapel was built alongside the original to allow it to be turned into a museum. It is a pity that we are not in Madrid in June, since on the Feast of the saint (June 13) young women come in a pilgrimage to ask the saint for a partner.
Lonely Planet had this to say about the site:
Figures on the dome depict the miracle of St Anthony. The saint, who lived in Padua in Italy, heard word from his native Lisbon that his father had been unjustly accused of murder. The saint was whisked miraculously to his home town from northern Italy, where he tried in vain to convince the judges of his father’s innocence. He then demanded that the corpse of the murder victim be placed before the judges. Goya’s painting depicts the moment in which St Anthony calls on the corpse (a young man) to rise up and absolve his father. Around them swarms a typical Madrid crowd. It was customary in such works that angels and cherubs appear in the cupola, above all the terrestrial activity, but Goya, never one to let himself be confined within the mores of the day, places the human above the divine.
Next door to the chapel is Casa Mingo, a workers’ restaurant dating back to the building of the Príncipe Pío train station nearby. Today it is a simple but immensely popular local restaurant where one could have a quick meal of roasted chicken with salad, Spanish omelette, or their delicious hand-made chorizos (truly delicious!). All washed down with sparkling cider from Asturias.
If anyone wants to go, I’m game!