Palacio Real, MadridCategory: Madrid
If you’re planning to visit Madrid in the near future, you should really consider putting the Palacio Real on your list of can’t-miss sites to see. To illustrate why this is such a fascinating stop along your tour route, below we have compiled a few interesting facts about the Palacio Real, including some information regarding the palace’s history, characteristics and nearby attractions.
The Palacio Real
The Palacio Real, Spanish for the “Royal Palace,” is the largest one of its kind in all of Europe and, according to almost every European travel guide, one of the most majestic and impressive as well. The Palace boasts more than 2,000 luxurious rooms, fifty of which are on display for tourists, each adorned with gorgeous pieces from several different centuries and eras. The palace is open year round excluding major holidays and observances, and is located on the east of Madrid’s historic center, within walking distance of the Plaza de Espana. Madrid’s Royal Palace – Palacio Real de Madrid
Almost immediately after the Royal fortress Alcazar burned down on December 24, 1734, King Philip V decided to replace this structure and the surrounding grounds with a grand palace suitable to host the Royal family and representative of the burgeoning capital of Madrid. The new palace, which would come to be named the Palacio Real, was made from granite and limestone as a means toward fireproofing it. Because of the rising popularity in French-style architecture at the time, the King wanted the palace to be modeled after the Palace of Versailles near Paris, a place in which he had spent part of his late childhood.
Construction on the new palace commenced in 1738 and was based on the design of Italian architect Juan Bautista Sachetti. The palace was finally completed 26 years and three kings later and still stands today as one of the models of modern architecture and a symbol of Madrid.
Characteristics and Nearby Structures
When visiting the Palacio Real, tourists will enter from the large and scenic Plaza de la America, where they’ll be granted access to several of the most significant rooms of the palace, including the Salon del Trono, a sitting room draped with red velvet walls; the Salon de Porcelana, or China Room; and the 400 square meter dining room, which has played host to some of the most important receptions in Madrid’s history. Another exciting feature, located in the palace’s west wing, is the Armeria Real, or Royal Army Museum, a room with pieces on display that include a genuine suit of armor worn by King Charles V.
The first occupants of the Palacio Real were the court of King Carlos III, son of King Philip V, who moved into the palace in 1764. Several other Kings and Royal families would also call Palacio Real home, at least up until 1931, when King Alfonso XIII went into exile after the republicans won the election of that year. Today the Royal family lives in the much smaller Zarzuela Palace outside of Madrid, although the Palacio Real is still used for official ceremonies and receptions.
While you’re visiting the Palacio Real, be sure to also take time to also see some of the nearby sites, including Jardines de Sanatini, a garden to the right of the Palace; the Campo del Moro, a park located right behind the Palace and uphill from the Manzanares River; and the Plaza Oriente, a beautiful square in front of the Palace that features an equestrian statue of King Philip IV.