Hospital of Tavera

The Hospital of Tavera is located at Calle Cardenal Tavera, 2. The archbishop (later cardinal) Juan Pardo de Tavera ordered it built in 1540 in the Renaissance style. It was built to help the sick and also as the mausoleum of the archbishop. The original architect was Alonso de Covarrubias. The building is also called the Hospital de Afuera because it was built outside the city walls, opposite the Bisagra Gate. Another name given to it is the Hospital de Juan Bautista because it is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It was the first classical building constructed in Castile.



There are two patios on two levels that are separated only by Doric columns and Ionian arches. The building has a regular shape and has an Italian stone facade with equidistant windows. These windows are rectangular on the lower floor and semicircular on the upper floor. At the ends they are reversed. 



The entrance of the church was made of marble from Genoa. There is only one nave and a transept covered by a lit dome. Below this is the impressive sepulcher of the cardinal. This was made of white marble and was the work of Alonso de Berruguete. This contains the face of the dead cardinal, with a very naturalistic expression. The altarpiece was designed by El Greco and constructed by his son, Jorge Manuel. Under the church is the crypt and this contains the remains of the very powerful Medinaceli Family. The Medinaceli Foundation is the owner of the hospital and church today.



The hospital was in use until the Spanish Civil War. It suffered damage during the war and was closed down. The widowed Duchess of Lerma then decided to build her palace in the second floor of the left wing of the building. She put in period furniture and an impressive collection of art. This now forms the museum there. There are tapestries that are very valuable. Two of them come from the Loves of Mercury and Circe Collection. There are valuable paintings done by El Greco, Ribera, Tintoretto and Luca Giordano. El Greco has a painting of the Holy Family, which supposedly portrayed the real family of El Greco. Another painting is the Portrait of Cardinal Tavera, that is based on the death mask of the man. There is a sculpture of the Resurrected Christ by El Greco, which is about one foot high, and is one of the few sculptures that El Greco made. Zurbaran painted the Portrait of the Duke of Medinaceli. Other paintings are Carreño’s portraits of Queen Mariana de Austria and King John II of Portugal. There is also an interesting pharmacy, the only room in its original state, as it was when used by the hospital's pharmacists on the ground floor and the archive containing the hospital's records and patient files.