The Royal Palace of Madrid
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
There are many palaces around the world built throughout history: some are very famous, visited by many tourists, some are less known or hard to reach. Some are luxurious and elegantly decorated, some are abandoned and hidden in a forgotten corner of a lonely place. How do you decide which is interesting for you and would want to visit?
During our trip in Madrid, we also seemed to face this dilemma. Our parents seemed less interested in visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid. They already saw many palaces and probably due to our short stay they concluded that other places came first. ˝If time allows, we will include the palace in our plan later˝ was their initial thought.
But we were more curious about it. Like few other countries nowadays, Spain is still a monarchy and the palace is the official residence of the royal family. The desire to see where and how the Spanish royal family lived and how they feast lead to our decision of visiting the palace.
And there was indeed need of determination as our first attempt was only partially crowned with success. Our first visit coincided with some official event on the occasion of which we had the opportunity to see the procession of the Spanish Royal Guard. Since we are not living in Madrid, it was a unique experience to watch them march and maybe the only time we got to see it. This also meant that we could not visit the Palace on that day since it was closed to the public.
The decision was made: we will visit the Palace even if we had to return another day. And so we did on the second day: we returned early in the morning and tirelessly waited in line for almost an hour until we reached the entrance.
According historians on the site of the current palace initially there was an Alcazar built by Muhammad I, Umayyad Emir of Cordoba finished in 880. Throughout the centuries, the palace was renovated and remodeled several times, but in 1734 it was completely destroyed by a fire. The palace as we see it today is a relatively new construction from the 18th century.
From the outside it looks massive and the same grandeur is characteristic to the interior too. Opposite the Grand Staircase made of one block marble stairs is standing Charles III in Roman toga greeting the visitors. The palace has several exquisite rooms like the Gasperini Room, designed in baroque style, richly decorated from ceiling to floor, the walls covered with embroidery made of silk with gold and silver. This was Charles III´s guest and dressing room.
The Porcelain Room, as the name indicates is richly decorated with white, golden and green ceramics. Porcelain flowers are covering ceiling and walls and are weaving around European and Asian motifs. The Throne Room is also elaborate. The frescoes from the ceiling are representing gods from Olympus as well as the kingdoms of Spain and its colonies. Several golden framed high mirrors are covering the walls and two bronze lions are edging the thrones. Salon of Charles III is abundant in ceiling painting, golden tapestry on the walls well reflected in the large mirrors and beautifully illuminated due to the earrings-like chandeliers. In the middle of the palace there is a large Royal Chapel with seats for the royal court, organ, thrones for the king and the queen and the altar. If you don´t know what this room is, you might confound it with a dormitory, as the thrones look like a king-sized bed due to the high baldachin. The Queen´s apartments and the banqueting hall allow us to get a glimpse of the life style of the Spanish royal family a little more than the other rooms which lack furniture.
From the Plaza de la Armeria we can enter the Royal Armory, a very nice collection of armors including pieces even from the 13th century. It is considered one of the biggest armor collections in the world.
Opposite the Palace is the Almudena Cathedral, a baroque cathedral finished only in 1993 which was constructed on the site of a medieval mosque.
The neo-Gothic interior houses contemporary chapels and statues.