The origins of the cloister
The monastery of San Jerónimo el Real had two cloisters. The first and older of the two was destroyed between 1855 and 1856, while the second was a Renaissance cloister built in the 16th century for religious and secular use. The latter was replaced about a century after its construction by a Baroque cloister designed by Fray Lorenzo de San Nicolás. This is the cloister that has survived to the present day and is popularly known as the Jerónimos Cloister.
As with the rest of the monastery, Fray Lorenzo’s cloister was considerably affected during the 19th and 20th centuries due to numerous changes of ownership and use, as well as alterations and rebuilding. As a result, little more than the skeleton of the structure survived. Fortunately, the finest and most interesting part retained the potential to be restored and incorporated into the new extension of the Museo del Prado, a project of outstanding merit and importance.