Palacio de Buena Vista , Madrid

Category: Madrid

Located in Spain’s beautiful capital of Madrid, the Palacio de Buena Vista is a true sightseer’s dream, particularly for tourists who enjoy Spanish architecture and military history. In the article below we have provided a brief overview of this major Madrid attraction, including some facts regarding its history and the beautiful features of the building itself.

Palacio de Buena Vista: History

The history of the Palacio de Buena Vista, or Buena Vista Palace, dates back to 1769 when the Duke of Alba, Fernando de Silva y Alvarez de Toledo, began buying up all the properties in the location of where the palace now sits. Not too long after, his granddaughter, the renowned Maria Teresa Cayetana de Silva, began demolishing these properties to make way for the construction of the Palacio de Buena Vista—a mansion that would showcase her wealth and class. In the years 1795 and 1796, during the construction of the palace, two separate fires broke out causing serious damage to the structure. These setbacks caused the duchess to lose interest in the project, and being that she had problems with members of her own family, she decided to will the palace to several people unrelated to her upon her death, most with very modest backgrounds.

Upon completion of the Palacio de Buena Vista, the new owners found it was much too expensive to maintain, and in 1807 it was purchased by the Town Hall of Madrid. It has since served many purposes over the years. During the French invasion, for example, it was occupied by the staff of General Murat, while the troops were encamped in Retiro Park, and during the reign of Fernando VII it was dedicated to Military Inspections. It would later be home to the Royal Military Museum, which in 1827 was divided into two separate museums: the Royal Museum of Artillery and the Royal Museum of the Corps of Engineers.

Since 1847, the Palacio de Buena Vista has been home to both the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Army, and today it serves as the Headquarters for the Spanish Army.

Palacio de Buena Vista: Features

The beauty and majesty of the Palacio de Buena Vista begins in the area surrounding the palace, including the garden, which is home to a wide array of splendid and very significant plants, flowers and trees, including the thousand year old Bilboa tree. In front of the palace is a statue dedicated to the bravery of the Celtiberian soldier, Jose Alcoverro, which shows him holding a gladius hispanica, a sword that was also later used by the Romans. Other exterior features include bronze statues dedicated to Minerva and Mars, and lanterns from the late 19th century, when the first artificial lighting was installed.

Once inside the Palacio de Buena Vista, guests will find many interesting areas to explore, including the Stair of Honor, a marble balustrade that includes illustrations on the walls of many important Spanish battles. Here is where they will also find the statue of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, the Grand Captain considered the creator of the Spanish army. The Aide de Camp Hall is another important feature, a hall home to ninety of the palace’s clocks and several valuable portraits, including one of King Felipe II, by Van Loo, and another of Isabel II with her daughter, by the renowned Federico Madrazo. Other rooms in the Palacio de Buena Vista, each containing their own stunning theme represented by paintings, sculpture, tapestries and more, include Teniers Hall, Audience Hall, and Battle Hall, also known as Shell Hall due to the shells that adorn the room’s corners.

When traveling to Madrid, Spain, the Palacio de Buena Vista should definitely be considered a must-see site along your tour route. Its history and the many collections of art housed within pay homage to a variety of events that quite literally changed the evolution of this great country. A special treat to witness, if you happen to be visiting the Palacio de Buena Vista on the last Friday of the month, is the changing of the guard, an event that occurs at noon sharp but once a month.