Every ruler seeks to immortalize his name if not in battles, then in the luxury of palaces. Charles III managed to leave his mark as a reformer and owner of the largest castle in Europe. It is often compared to Versailles for the luxury of its decoration and territory. The Royal Palace in Madrid is surrounded by magnificent gardens and parks, retains its status and is now open to tourists, except on days of official ceremonies. Its halls hold unique objects of art, paintings and collections.
History of the Royal Palace
The size of the Royal Palace in Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is staggering, with 135,000 square meters of building area, which is more appropriate for a medium-sized neighborhood. The construction of this architectural masterpiece lasted from 1738 to 1764. The decoration of the interiors dragged on for several more decades, changing at the whim of the new owners. The architectural design features huge stepped platforms with internal ceilings that ensure the stability of the building, built on the banks of the river Manzanares. They descend almost to the water and the park of Campo del Moro.
The design of the facade is a mix of classicist, baroque and Moorish style, which is understandable due to the historical background. Madrid’s royal palace was built on the site of the fortress of the emirs of Cordoba and Toledo, which was replaced by the Alcazar built during the Habsburg dynasty. After a fire that destroyed the building along with art collections, only ruins remained.
The site was very attractive, and Philip V decreed that it be cleared and the foundations for a new palace be laid. The first stone was consecrated by the Archbishop of Madrid, and under the base was placed a box with coins from various cities in Spain.
Three Italian architects had to work on his project. Ф. Juvarroux began to make drawings, but died without completing the work. Saccetti continued the work with Italian Baroque decorations, but he too was not destined to see his creation in stone. After him, the baton passed to Sabatini, who completed the construction, for which granite and limestone were used.
The interior interiors in the 18th century acquired many decorative elements, which gave the halls pomp and splendor. The palace has about 3,000 rooms, of which 50 are available for public viewing.
Tours of the Royal Palace
As the most popular tourist attraction, it is open for visits and tours all year round. The exceptions are the days on which official events involving members of the royal dynasty are held. During this time, access to the premises is restricted.
The Royal Palace in Madrid is built in the shape of a rectangle with a spacious courtyard inside. The building is divided into 2 basement and 3 main floors. There is a square in front of the palace, where on the first Wednesday of the month there is a ceremonial changing of the guard.
The main entrance is on the south façade, decorated with sculptures, columns, the coat of arms and the allegorical composition “The Triumph of Spain”.
Tours of the palace’s halls include a visit to the Armory, where visitors are greeted by mounted knights in combat attire, the collection includes weapons from different eras, the armor of foot soldiers, personal effects of Philip the Beautiful, Charles V, Maximilian of Austria. On the first floor there is also a library with a unique collection of old books and manuscripts and a museum of pharmacopoeia.
To admire the medieval frescoes, you have to go up to the second floor. The ceiling above the pompous staircase is painted by Corrado Giacinto, and mythological scenes adorn the Salon des Halberds.
It’s definitely worth a look at:
- the Rococo crystal chandelier in Gasparini’s room;
- dozens of different mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors;
- The abundance of luxury in the Tone Room;
- antique coins in a numismatic museum;
- interior of the Porcelain Room.
One of the halls contains a collection of Antonio Stradivari’s violins, which are of global value. Among the paintings are works by Caravaggio, Velázquez and Goya.
The Hall of Columns is created in the same style as the grand staircase. It hosts balls and other entertaining events, official receptions and meetings. At Christmas the royal tree is set up.
The collection of clocks in the Spanish Royal Palace, is considered one of the most complete in Europe. The collection of vases and porcelain items is open for viewing.
The pearl of the collection is the royal ceremonial service.
Campo del Moro Park was laid out in the 19th century, designed by Narciso Pasquale Colomer. Ramon Oliva worked on the landscape, decorating it in the then fashionable romantic style. On the territory planted 10 thousand trees, including exotic palms, broke beds, rose gardens, built fountains “Tritons” and “Shell. The park is famous for the Carriage Museum, where the ceremonial and pleasure carriages of the Spanish kings are kept.
At the eastern entrance to the Royal Palace in Madrid there are three gardens at once: Lepanto, Central and Caba Noval. Sabatini’s gardens are laid out on the site of the former stables, decorated in the neoclassical style, complemented by a rectangular pond, around which there are sculptures of the rulers of Spain. According to the strict plan planted cypresses, magnolias, boxwood, pine trees, creating an organic ensemble, subject to a single idea.
Opening hours and ticket prices for the Royal Palace
When planning a visit to the Royal Palace, remember that it is closed to visitors on January 1, 6, May 1, September 9, October 12, November 9, 24, 25 and December 31. The exhibits open at 10 a.m. and run until 8 p.m. in the summer and until 6 p.m. in the winter. The palace is located in the center of the Spanish capital near the metro station Orega. You can get there by cab, regular bus or come as part of the tour.
The Royal Palace on a map of Madrid
The cost of a visit for adults is 10 euros, if you use an audio guide you have to pay another 4.
A point to keep in mind! The box office closes one hour before the end of the exhibitions.
A visit to the Royal Palace is memorable for the luxury and amazing skill of artists, sculptors, masters of glass and porcelain, fine taste of the decorators.