Located just a 10 minute walk outside the city walls, Hospital de Tavera (Hospital of San Juan Bautista) is one of the most beautiful and representative monuments of the Spanish Renaissance.
In addition, it exhibits, in a palatial environment, an extraordinary pictorial, sculptural and furniture collection of the Golden Age and the only hospital pharmacy of that time preserved entirely.
Construction began in 1541, after being commissioned by Cardinal Don Juan Tavera, in a singular and ephemeral ideological and artistic conjuncture, which makes it especially necessary to distinguish between the project that the founder could conceive and the hospital building and institution finally executed. As the works extend for more than seventy-five years, the latter are the result of the decisions made not by the cardinal, but by the different executors of their property and their memory in diverse intellectual and artistic contexts.
Once the land was chosen, the project was finally entrusted to Alonso de Covarrubias, Master of Works of the Primate Cathedral and Architect of the Reales Alcázares, who was facing his great work. It was the first time I had a project on a large plot with no other conditioning factors than their knowledge and imagination. There was no preexisting construction, not even a preconceived architectural model because, as we have seen, the social conceptions that had given rise to the cruciform plant, introduced by the Catholic Monarchs in their general hospitals, had changed if only fleetingly.
Covarrubias understood from the beginning, as shown by his first known plane, that the model that best suited the purposes of the Cardinal was the great Roman private double-courtyard house described by Vitruvius and that he knew through an engraving by Fra Giocondo da Verona In coherence with this return to the classical models, he renounced the plateresque decorativism to put the entire composition at the service of proportion and symmetry, thus initiating the path of a disorganized architecture that will lead to the great sobriety of El Escorial.
The museum exhibits, in addition to an important collection of furniture and Flemish tapestries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the aforementioned gallery that includes works by El Greco, Luca Giordano, Zurbarán, Tintoretto, Pantoja de la Cruz, Carreño de Miranda, Sánchez Coello , etc.
The singular spatial richness of the Hospital Tavera is evident in its courtyards, in the long bays of the old infirmaries, church, sacristy, crypt allowing us to enjoy the beauty of the works of art that treasures as the Tomb of Cardinal Tavera, work of Alonso de Berruguete, or the altarpiece of the Church, an iconographic project by El Greco.
Monday to Saturday: from 10 am to 2:30 pm and from 3 to 6:30 pm.
Sundays: from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The ticket office closes one hour before.
Full entry: € 6
Partial entrance (courtyards, church and sacristy): € 4
The visit to the Museum and pharmacy is done in groups accompanied and lasts approximately 45 minutes according to the following schedule: 10:15 – 11:00 – 11:45 – 12:30 – 13:30 – 15:15 – 16: 00- 16:45 – 17:30