The Spanish royal family’s formal house is the massive 18th-century Palacio Real de Madrid in Madrid’s historic center. However, the royal family really resides in the smaller Palacio de la Zarzuela on the city’s outskirts. Parts of the Royal Palace of Madrid are available to the public when it is not being utilized for governmental activities.
The Royal Palace of Madrid, aka Palacio Real Madrid, is the official house of the Spanish Monarchy and the biggest Palace in Western Europe. With inspiration from the Royal Alcázar of Madrid, the Bourbon monarchy constructed the current Palace in the 18th century.
In addition to its extensive grounds, the castle is well-known for its opulent furnishings, Stradivarius Royal Quartet collection, unrivaled bronze collection, captivating frescoes on the high ceilings, and other features that were once reserved for the Spanish monarchs.
The Palacio Real Madrid, situated in Madrid’s western downtown area, is Europe’s biggest operational Palace. It has 3,418 rooms and a total area of 135,000 square meters. The King and Queen of Spain do not really live at the Palace, but it serves as their official home. Events of state, royal balls, peace discussions, and other political gatherings are currently held in the Palace.
The Crown and the scepter, symbols of Spanish royalty, are kept safe within the Crown Room. Experience the splendor of the Spanish monarchy firsthand by visiting the Crown Jewels, as well as the magnificent Sabatini Gardens, the majestic staircase, the opulent library, the armory of Spanish bravery, and the Royal residences.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is a significant cultural landmark that represents Spain’s long and illustrious history and its architectural prowess. The Palace, which was constructed in the 18th century, has played a significant role in the political and cultural development of Spain as the official house of the Spanish royal family for centuries.
The Palace’s elaborate Baroque design and furnishings, as well as its enormous art and artifact collections, represent the pinnacle of Spanish aesthetic and cultural achievement.
Two museums showcasing Spain’s military and medicinal history may also be found in the Palace, the Royal Armory, and the Royal Pharmacy. Beautifully planted walks, fountains, and sculptures make the grounds of the Palace an important part of Spain’s cultural history as well. The Royal Palace of Madrid is truly an iconic representation of Spain’s regal history and cultural identity.
The History of the Royal Palace of Madrid
The Palace was constructed on the site of an Islamic castle that was first constructed by Mohammed I, Emir of Córdoba, to defend Toledo in the 9th century. It was occasionally used by the Castilian monarchy when the Spanish retook the city in 1083.
The Spanish royal court relocated there in 1561 when King Philip II ordered it. In the 16th century, a castle known as the Antiguo Alcázar (or Old Castle) replaced the citadel.
As a result of the 1734 fire, King Philip V had a new palace constructed on the same site. The new building was constructed completely of stone and brick rather than wood to reduce the possibility of a fire.
Construction of the Royal Palace of Madrid, Beginning in 1738, continued until 1764. The exquisite gardens to the north of the Palace were named for the great Italian architect Francisco Sabatini, who collaborated on the project with other architects.
King Charles III of England originally used the structure as a palace in 1764. King Ferdinand VII and his grandson King Alfonso XII renovated the building at a later date. Alfonso XIII was the final monarch to call the Royal Palace his home.
The unique design of the Royal Palace of Madrid
The use of so many expensive and prestigious materials in the construction of the Royal Palace was meant to demonstrate to the world that the Spanish were more powerful and prosperous than ever before.
The walls sparkle with mirrors and shimmer with beautiful tapestry made by some of the era’s most skilled artisans. Corrado Giaquinto, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Anton Raphael Mengs are just a few of the well-known Spanish artists whose work can be found among the frescoes inside the Palace.
The Grand Staircase is a stunning focal point within. The entire staircase is carved from a single block of San Agustin marble, and it is guarded by a pair of lions at the bottom and paintings far above.
What to see at the Royal Palace of Madrid?
More than 1,400 rooms are spread out throughout the Palace’s massive 1.5 million square feet (135,000 square meters). It has a collection of musical instruments manufactured by great artisans, as well as the only complete Stradivarius string quartet in the world, as well as works by artists such as Francisco Goya, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Diego Velázquez, and Caravaggio. The Palace’s Real Armera, or Royal Armoury, houses a priceless collection of armor from the 16th century.
Listed below are some of the highlights of the Royal Palace of Madrid that you shouldn’t miss if you’re planning to explore it on your own.
- Sabatini Gardens
- Plaza de la Armería
- Royal Armory
- The Crown Room
- Hall of Mirrors
- The main staircase
The gardens are the only part of the castle where it would be easy to become disoriented. One of the two magnificent gardens next to Palacio Real Madrid’s northern side is called Sabatini Gardens.
The gardens, named for Francesco Sabatini, the architect who laid out the Palace’s first floor, go all the way to the intersection of Calle de Bailén and Cuesta de San Vicente. The Sabatini Garden is a sight to behold, with its vast rectangular pond encircled by four fountains and its beautiful French architecture.
Plaza de la Armería
Located to the south of the Palace itself is the central Plaza de la Armeria, often known as the Armory Square. Plan your visit to the Palace so that you are in the Plaza for the Changing of the Royal Guards on the first Wednesday of the month.
The Royal Armory in Madrid is among the greatest in the world, along with the Imperial in Vienna. It stores priceless 15th-century armor and weapons. Armor signed by the greatest armorer of all time, Filippo Negroli, is among the highlights, along with the riding gear of Carlos V and Felipe II, tools used by Emperor Charles V in the fight of Mühlberg, and more.
The Crown Room
The Crown Room was formerly known as the Chamber of Queen Maria Cristina. The Crown and Scepter, two crown jewels of the Hispanic monarchy, are shown here for the first time. The Crown, which belonged to Carlos III, is a piece of metal that has been chiseled, embossed, and gilded. The rock crystal, silvered filigree, enamel, and garnet-set scepter date back to the time of Charles II.
Hall of Mirrors
The Royal Palace of Madrid, like Versailles, features a Hall of Mirrors. Queen Maria Luisa de Parma, the wife of King Carlos IV, reportedly used it as a dressing table in the early twentieth century. This is one of the most stunning chambers in the Palace, with pink marble walls and a light coating of white and blue decoration.
The main staircase
The Royal Palace’s main staircase features an elegant and harmonious design. This is possible because there isn’t much space between each step, which makes it easy and fun to use.
Spanish marble five meters in length is used for each step. Take a moment next time you’re near this stairway to see the stunning vault and paintings depicting the Spanish monarchs in the 18th century. Among the many statues honoring the royal family are two lions, whose presence represents authority and Spain.
How to get to the Royal Palace of Madrid?
The Palace’s entrance may be seen after only a couple of minutes walking from the Opera subway stop, although the full journey will take around five minutes. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to walk directly from the Plaza Mayor through the city’s center and along Calle Mayor to the Palace.
One of the most recognizable structures in the Spanish capital is the Royal Palace or Palacio Real. The Spanish royal family has called this Palace in the middle of Madrid home since the 18th century. The Royal Palace is a must-see for any tourist in Madrid due to its gorgeous architecture, exquisite interiors, and enormous collections of art and antiquities.
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