Francesco Sabatini: the mark of a sicilian architect on Madrid

As I had mentioned in my previous article, Francesco Sabatini had, without a shadow of a doubt, an extremely important  influence on architecture during the reign of Charles III and very much so on the appearance and renewal of the city of Madrid during the 18th century. His influence is still very much present and is absolutely key if we want to know about, and understand, Madrid better. Although I won’t be providing a complete list of his works, I will mention some of his most relevant projects. Between 1760 and 1764, he finishes the construction of the Royal Palace which had begun under the reign of Philip V, who was Charles III father.  The quality of life of Madrid’s residents also improved substantially when he put in a sewage system and cleaned up and paved the city streets. He also designs the royal tombs of Ferdinand VI and his Portuguese wife, Barbara of Braganza which are in the church of the Convent of the Salesas Reales.  He extends the southwestern wing of the Royal Palace (1772) and rebuilds Monastery of the Comendadoras de Santiago (1773). In 1778, he finishes what is, perhaps, his greatest work: The Puerta, or gate, of Alcalá. He is also responsible for the design and construction of the Royal Botanical Gardens (1774-1781). He continues his work at the General Hospital which nowadays is home to the Queen Sofia Center of Art, the Conservatory and the Medical  Doctors Association.  He also finishes the construction of the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande in 1784. A large part of his work on this particular project is devoted to the building’s façade.   Charles IV (Charles III son) orders him to change the direction of the main staircase of the Royal Palace. He works in conjunction with Juan de Villanueva, the architect of the Prado Museum, in the project of rebuilding the Plaza Mayor after the fire of 1790. It’s also important to highlight various projects he undertook and completed in the Casa de Campo such the western wall and the Puente de la Culebra bridge.


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