Palacio del Senado, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Are you traveling to Madrid, Spain this year as part of a family or romantic vacation? Do you need some ideas regarding some interesting sites to visit during your stay? The historic and very cosmopolitan city of Madrid is extremely fascinating; a world capital with hundreds, if not thousands of interesting things to do and see. From world-class museums, to commemorative monuments, to beautiful architecture not seen anywhere else in the world, the city is an absolute paradise for tourists. And while you may not find time to visit all of the wonderful sites Madrid has to offer, one structure you should definitely consider adding to your tour schedule is the Palacio del Senado. Below we have provided a brief overview of the Palacio del Senado, including some facts regarding its location, history, purpose and characteristics.

Palacio del Senado: Overview

The Palacio del Senado, or Senate Building, is home to the upper house of the Spanish Parliament, an assembly that plays an important role in the governance of Spain. Senators, of which there are 264 in total, generally serve four year terms, and work hand in hand with the lower house of Parliament, known as the Congress of Deputies, to write and pass Spanish laws. In addition to these collaborative duties, the Senators are granted the independent power to appoint judges to the Constitutional Tribunal and compel region presidents to fulfill their obligations.

The Palacio del Senado is located in the Plaza de la Marina Española, close to the Royal Palace and Sabatini Gardens. If traveling via the Madrid Metro, the most convenient stop is the Santo Domingo station, but it is also very near the Opera and Callao stations, and just a short walk from the renowned Plaza de España.

The Palacio del Senado began as a convent school back in 1590, and was known locally as the Colegio de Doña María de Aragón, named after its founder. Its first use as a parliament building came in 1814, when it became home to the Salón de Sesiones de las Cortes, although between then and the present day it has been used for a number of alternate purposes.

In 1820, Spanish architect Isidro González Velázquez was commissioned to add neoclassical additions to the interior of the Palacio del Senado, and between the years 1844 and 1850, the entire interior was renovated under the designs of Anibal Alvarez, who also built a new exterior façade in the neoclassical style. In 1882, architect Emilio Rodriguez Ayuso added a library and reading rooms to the building and completely removed any traces of its former use as a religious facility. A new floor was added to the structure in 1969, and in 1987 a new building was added to the complex, designed by architect Salvador Gayarre. The new building was inaugurated in 1991, when then King Juan Carlos I opened its doors for the first time. With its rounded façade, it is this new building that most locals now recognize as the headquarters of the Spanish Senate.

While visiting the Palacio del Senado you will also notice a monument that occupies the same Plaza. It is dedicated to the conservative politician Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, a man who played a key role in the restoration of the Spanish Monarchy in 1875, when Alfonso XII was installed as the King of Spain following the defeat of the first Spanish Republic. The monument was created in 1901, primarily by the architect Jose Grases Eiera, but also with help from Joaquin Bilbo. It consists of a tall column, atop which sits a bronze statue of the politician, depicted giving a speech. There are also a number of smaller bronze statues decorating the base of the column.