At the site that once held the house of the noble Vargas family, where Saint Isidore and his wife Maria worked as servants, little remains—only an old well built in the 12th century. Archaeological investigations between 1989 and 1997 had revealed the floor of the building, a cemetery, and this well, which held Spanish-Muslim pottery from the 10th and 11th centuries. Today it is a part of the Saint Isidore Museum, which covers the city’s deep history.
Legend has it that one day, while Isidore worked in the fields, Mary was taking care of their son, when he fell into the well. In the words of Nicolás José de la Cruz, in his 1790 book about the life of Saint Isidore: “Both kneeled next to the well asking Our Lord that for his Holy Mother He would console them in that affliction … Something indeed clearly rare! As they prayed, the water level in the well rose and rose, until it leveled with the curb. Above it, on the surface, rose the child sitting, alive and smiling, splashing about with his hands on the water.”
The building on the site today is a reconstruction of another, demolished in 1972. That structure was a 16th-century palace built atop the Vargas original, and occupied by the Apostolic Nuncio. It belonged to various noble figures until 1986, when it was acquired by the Madrid City Council.
Elements of the original structure were included in the restoration, including the 16th-century Chapel of Saint Isidore, which is associated with the old apartment occupied by him and his wife. The current museum, named for the city’s patron saint, covers the city’s history and displays objects from the Paleolithic period to the Modern Age.
Know Before You Go
The nearest metro station is La Latina on Line 5 (green). The entry is free.