Madrid’s Palacio Real is Second only to Versailles in Size and Splendour:
Twenty-five years in construction and spanning the reign of two Bourbon monarchs, Madrid’s Palacio Real (Royal Palace) was built to impress. And who can dispute this when you learn that there are nearly three thousand rooms, with two hundred and forty balconies and over forty staircases!
The Palacio Real, second only to Versailles in size and splendour, is an architectural marvel and a treasure trove. This magnificent work is one of the major Madrid attractions.
Even though less than 10% of the palace room is open to the public, there is still far more than a visitor could see in a single day. Everywhere the eye looks can be seen fine rococo decoration, lush tapestries, bejewelled clocks, delicate porcelain and thousands of other precious objects, not to mention the many paintings by Velázquez, Goya, Rubens, El Greco and Caravaggio.
Home of Spanish Monarchs
Long the home of Spanish monarchs (it was conceived by Phillip V, and occupied until the abdication of Alfonso XIII in 1931), this Madrid palace was once the centre of power for a dynasty that ruled half the then-known world.
Sited at the former Moorish fortress, Alcázar (built in the 9th century, but burned down in 1734), the palace itself is an outstanding example of French classical architecture. But beyond the building there are statuary and grounds that complete the work.
The stone statues of an Inca prince, Atahualpa, and the Aztec king Montezuma are only two of the many unusual touches around the palace grounds.
Palacio Real Tour
A tour of the Palacio Real includes the Salón de Gasparini, where you can see astonishing rococo chinoiserie and sparkling chandeliers. It also covers the magnificent and resplendent banquet hall, which can seat over 100 guests for dinner.
The palace contains several other exquisite rooms, including Carlos III’s Porcelain Room, the Throne Room and the Royal Armoury of one of the world’s superpowers of the 18th century.
In the Throne Room are the two gold and scarlet seats occupied by a succession of Spain’s rulers, from which they issued edicts that influenced much of the world’s history for centuries. The walls and ceiling of the Porcelain Room are entirely covered by green and white royal porcelain. The Armeria Real (Royal Armoury) shows a number of weapons and armour, along with a range of medieval torture implements used in the Spanish Inquisition.
But there are also on display examples of Spain’s more exalted aspects.
You’ll have an opportunity to see the famed Biblioteca Real (Royal Library) too. Not a serious competitor compared to the Vatican collection, but well worth a visit. You’ll see a first edition of Don Quixote, Cervantes magnum opus, and several Stradivarius stringed instruments.
The Royal Pharmacy displays many of the instruments used to treat the members of the royal family, and gives some insight into the medical knowledge of the day. It’s still in use, and therefore is closed during official functions.
Visitors can witness the changing of the guards outside, while taking in a view of one of the best of Madrid’s many fine gardens. Stand on the Patio de Armas and enjoy the view of the Manzanares River.
Although the King of Spain no longer lives at the palace in Madrid, Palacio Real is still used for state functions.
You can join a Madrid City Sightseeing Tour which includes a visit to the the Royal Palace or purchase the Madrid Card which gives you priority access to the Royal Palace as well as the other major Madrid attractions.
Calle Bailén s/n
Map of Madrid: