Restoration of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament

Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid.
Special mention / Diploma in the category Conservation in the year 2012.

Dating of the building: 17th century.

Applicant: Department of Architecture.

Reason for the award :

For the excellent restoration of a forgotten jewel of the 17th-century Madrid baroque.

The restoration of the Las Santas Formas Chapel, built in the 17th century to commemorate a Eucharistic miracle, has allowed the recovery of one of the most important elements of Madrid’s Baroque architecture, which suffered serious structural damage and was unknown to the citizens.

The Chapel of Santas Formas in Alcalá de Henares is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture in a Jesuit style church. From the outside, the contour of the double spire is visible, also the church transept, with a square plan, and the dome of the chapel. It was built at the end of the 17th century to house the custody of the Blessed Sacrament, an Eucharistic miracle of great devotion in the city. The chapel has a Greek cross plan, crowned with a very slender dome, in which the valuable pictorial decoration is concentrated, done by Juan Vicente de la Ribera.

The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament had been closed to the public for more than 40 years. The critical state in which the factories of the Chapel were found was evident both from the outside, where the cracks were visible and from the closed off space inside. Thus, one of the most valuable architectural spaces in the city was closed. Work started on the exterior, which consolidated the structure of the dome, and followed with the restoration of the significant interior murals. Structural injuries and water seepage caused damage to the paintings, resulting in the loss of the pictorial film and rendering the iconography virtually unreadable. The restoration has consisted in fixing the graphic film, cleaning and consolidating it, and reintegrating the lagoons. This chapter has been very impressive in terms of iconographic reintegration, enabling the reading of the work, always with the criteria of preserving the original. The recovery of the original openings in the dome contributed considerably to this effect, allowing the light that initially illuminated the paintings to re-enter to give volume to the dome space.

Thus, with minimal intervention, it has been possible to recover the original intention of the chapel. For the final stage of the restoration traditional materials and techniques were chosen, and provision made of the appropriate facilities for their use. With these interventions, one of the most interesting baroque areas in Alcalá de Henares and the Community of Madrid has been recovered.

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