Las Descalzas Reales

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Las Descalzas Reales

Today I went to Las Descalzas Reales, the convent about which I will write my final paper for my course on the spiritual currents of Spain. Unfortunately, I was not able to get into the interior of the convent because they sell their tickets for group tours at 10 am and they were full by 11.  Instead I went to Mass in a church where the voices of the singing nuns echoed throughout the building.  One of my favorite aspects of this church were these two balconies that extend out over the nave playing with the concept of visibility. There is a white grate that covers the bottom half of the person, whereas red velvet curtains hide the face. According to the literature these curtains were sometimes opened to reveal the faces of the religious participants. These balconies were used by the royal inhabitants of the convent such as Juana of Austria, the founder, which is further evidenced by the golden coat of arms placed on the outside of each. Tours were being led through these rooms and it was very interesting how you could see the physical outline of people coming in and out of the space; therefore, the royals were always physically sensed but not seen by the commoner.  I wanted to take a couple of pictures after the mass of these features as well as some of the other unique aspects of the church; however, another service was scheduled right afterwards. Those will have to wait for another day. On my way out I stopped by the gift shop and bought a copy of a book, which outlined the origins of the religious community and spent my afternoon curled up on my bed devouring it with a cup of coffee in my hands. After learning more about it’s history I look forward to my next visit to the convent.

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