Hospital of Tavera

Following the example of cardinal Mendoza, and faced with the inadequacy of the Hospital of Santa Cruz, archbishop Juan Pardo de Tavera ordered the construction of this building with the help of the church for his own mausoleum. The driving force was not merely to help the needy, but rather to help the sick.

Its location reflects the new ideas on health and hygiene, which prohibited the construction of hospitals within the city centre.

The building is one of the most interesting examples of Spanish Renaissance, composed of two patios that present an image of unity, as they are only separated by columns. The project by Alonso de Covarrubias was altered by successors to the works.

This regular shaped building with an Italian style stone facade in which the equidistant windows, rectangular on the lower floor and semicircular on the upper, being the other way round at the ends, predates the austere facade of the El Escorial palace-monastery. The twin patios on two levels, separated and joined at the same time by the double arcade that crosses them from the church, allows a wide range of perspectives, very much in the style of Italian palaces.

The entrance to the church is made of marble from Genoa. The interior has only one nave and a transept covered by a lit dome on "pechinas" (triangular supports that form a ring) and drums. Below that is the magnificent sepulchre of the cardinal, a later work in white marble by Alonso de Berruguete.

It includes the face of the deceased, very naturalistic in its death-like expression. The altarpiece was designed by El Greco and constructed by his son, Jorge Manuel.

In the museum there is a large archive of documents and artistic works of great value (magnificent pictures by El Greco, Ribera, Tintoretto, Lucas Giordano, among others, and the sculpture of the Resurrected Christ by El Greco), as well as housing the former pharmacy of the Nobility Section of the National Historic Archive.

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