Palacio de Liria, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Are you planning a visit to Madrid, the capital of Spain and its largest and most vibrant city? Have you commenced with the process of mapping out your itinerary, making a list of some interesting and exciting things to do and see while you’re in town? If you have started this process, you may want to consider adding to your list of tour stops the beautiful Palacio de Liria. In the article below we have compiled a brief profile of the Palacio de Liria, including some information regarding its history, location and some of the features both outside and within the palace that make this Madrid hot spot such an interesting locale to visit.

Palacio de Liria: Location and History

The Palacio de Liria, or in English, the Liria Palace, is an eighteenth century palace located in the heart of Madrid. It is nestled amid the city’s modern architecture, just north of the Plaza de Espana, and serves as a reminder of the days when the city’s streets were lined with mansions just like these.

Palacio de Liria was first constructed back in 1770 by the Duke of Berwick, who commissioned the renowned architect Ventura Rodriguez for the mansion’s designs—designs that reflect the sober neoclassical style so popular in Spain and throughout Europe during this era. The Palacio de Liria was completed in 1783, and in the early 1800s, it was passed to the inheritance of the House of Alba. The mansion, particularly its interior, was refurbished in the early 1900s using the designs of architect Edwin Lutyens.

During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, all but the facades of the Palacio de Liria were destroyed by fire. It has since been rebuilt and continues to serve as a private residence, largely due to the persistence of the 18th Duchess of Alba, Duchess Cayetana de Alba, Spain’s premier aristocrat who still owns and lives in the palace with her husband.

Palacio de Liria: Features

The meager neoclassical exterior of the Palacio de Liria stands in direct contrast to the opulence found within the palace’s walls. Visitors to the palace can explore the many frescos and tapestries that adorn the hallways and other rooms of the Palacio de Liria, and the well-preserved period furniture takes guests back in time to an era when grand parties and other receptions were regularly held at the mansion.

Perhaps the most significant feature of the Palacio de Liria is the outstanding art collection assembled there. This brilliant collection includes works by Dürer, El Greco, Mantegna, Murillo, Palma, Rembrandt, Ribera, Rubens, Titian, Van Dyck, Vecchio, and Velázquez. It also houses the Alba Bible. Art historians say the most significant work of the bountiful collection is a portrait of an earlier Duchess of Alba in red and white, by Spain’s own Francisco Goya—the most important piece of his to be owned and housed by a private collector rather than a museum.

Tourists can regularly be seen huddled outside the gates of the Palacio de Liria, but if you want a guided tour of the palace you need to plan ahead—way ahead. As the primary residence of the Duke and Duchess of Alba, the Palacio de Liria is only permitted to be toured for a couple of hours every Friday, and because of this, the waiting list for this tour can be quite extensive. Palace officials advise you notify them in writing at least one to two months in advance to ensure a spot on this very popular tour.