The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace from Plaza de Oriente Square
The Royal Palace by night
One of the rooms in the Royal Palace
Few European royal residences conserve decorative elements like those of the Royal Palace in Madrid. Its majestic rooms are home to major artistic treasures and continue to bear witness to historic events. Magnificent and grand, the official residence of Spain's monarchs is located in the heart of the capital, in a privileged setting with extraordinary views of the Madrid Mountains. And you don't have to be a prince or princess to enjoy them.
"For eternity" is the inscription on the first stone laid in construction of the Spanish Royal Palace in 1738. This is a solemn, magnificent building erected in the centre of Madrid as a symbol of solidity, strength and continuity. Built in granite and limestone, with no wood other than doors and windows to avoid the risk of fire, it is the official residence of the Spanish monarchs. Despite the fact that today's Royal Family does not actually live there, it is used for numerous important ceremonies and events. The beauty of its serene, harmonious architecture is strongly accentuated by its surroundings, which are, perhaps, even more beautiful.
The content of the palace is no less valuable: besides beautiful decorative elements such as tapestries, porcelain and crystal chandeliers, it is also home to a select collection of paintings, with major works by Caravaggio, Juan de Flandes, Velázquez and Goya, string instruments made by Stradivarius for the Spanish sovereign, and exhibits from the Royal Armoury, one of the most highly prized in its genre. Explore its patios, corridors, rooms and gardens and feel like a real king or queen.
Loads to see, inside and out
The main entrance is in the grandiose Plaza de Armas Square. From here you can appreciate the elegance and majesty of the building's main façade. Take your time to admire its ornamental details, with the balconies of its most important rooms such as the Throne Room and the Gala Banqueting Hall. On the balustrade of the upper part, meanwhile, between the statues of the different Spanish monarchs, there are figures of the ancient Inca and Aztec emperors, in tribute to the South American continent.
Access to the palace interior is via an impressive staircase. Throughout the visit you will see how the delicate decoration of its different rooms has been adapted to the different periods and tastes of its residents. Stunning frescos, 16th-century tapestries, mirrors from La Granja in Segovia, Chinese porcelain, silk and velvet are some of the beautiful items that highlight the splendour of its different rooms, which continue to witness major historic events such as the signing of Spain's Adhesion Treaty to the European Economic Community, which took place in the Columns Room.
Another unusual place is the Royal Pharmacy. Here, amongst other interesting objects, you can see prescriptions dispensed to the Royal Family. However, it is outside the palace, strolling through the extraordinary Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens where you will spend the most enjoyable moments. If you are in the Spanish capital, be sure to visit this royal site: you will experience unique sensations not to be missed.
If you want to witness a really unusual ceremony, furthermore, then every Wednesday, 11am-2pm, you can see the changing of the palace guard. These sentries wear period uniforms and the foot-guards change every half hour, mounted guards every hour. On the first Wednesday of every month, meanwhile, you can see the Solemn Changing of the Royal Guard, a 40-minute ceremony featuring the participation of 400 people and 100 horses. A real spectacle.