Madrid’s Royal Palace is the most magnificent in Europe
The Royal Palace in Madrid is the main attraction and symbol of the Spanish capital. For two hundred years it was the official residence of the kings of Spain, and today it is the third most visited palace and park ensemble in the country.
At the moment, the palace in Madrid is the largest palace and park complex in Europe. The building itself covers an area of 135 square kilometers, and the number of rooms seems just incredible – 3418. For comparison, the famous Buckingham Palace has only 775 rooms.
The Palace is well known for its rich and sumptuous interiors – painted ceilings, gilded walls, crystal chandeliers, marble staircases and furniture by the best Italian and Spanish masters.
The construction of the royal palace began in 1735, when the wife of Philip V suggested creating her own residence on the place of the burnt-out one. The building had been under construction for almost 30 years, and was only fully completed under Charles III.
The leading architects of Italy and Spain, creating the palace in Madrid, were guided by Versailles. They erected a magnificent building in the form of a rectangle in the Italian Baroque style, trying to make it solemn, but not pompous. As is typical of Spanish palaces, only local stone and wood was used.
Interestingly, the palace was formerly the site of a Moorish fortress (early Middle Ages) and the Habsburg Alcazar, the official residence of the kings of Spain. However, after a major fire the building was completely destroyed.
Today no one lives in the palace, but the current king of Spain, Juan Carlos, regularly holds meetings in Madrid with high-ranking officials and heads of other states. Also ceremonies are often held there, and occasionally festive events are held. One of the most recent is the wedding of the current king of Spain.
The architecture of the building
The royal residence stands on a small hill with the Manzanares River running below it. Because the palace sits on a small elevation, it has strong walls and stepped platforms with interior slabs that run from the western part of the palace to the river itself at its base.
The layout of the building is as follows. In the center is the main courtyard, where ceremonies and festivities used to be held. Around this courtyard are all the buildings. Behind the walls of the castle are two picturesque park.
Externally, the palace of Madrid is not as pompous and flashy as the inside – the walls are made of stone and the facade of the building is a minimum of marble decorations and accents. The main highlight of the castle are the massive columns at the entrance and a small glass dome on the roof. The square in front of the palace is also quite deserted – there are no statues or trees.
On the territory of the former royal residence there are two parks – Sabatini and Campo del Moro.
These gardens occupy an area of 2.5 hectares, and are located to the north of the palace. They have become popular due to their rich collection of exotic plants: cypresses, lilies, boxwood. There are many pine trees (including rare species) and palm trees growing in the park. Also in the gardens you can see a lot of sculptures and fountains. In the center of the park is a pond. The gardens have a typical French layout for Spain.
Interestingly, the park was laid much later than the palace itself – only in 1933, when the royal family confiscated the land adjacent to their residence, the first trees were planted here.
Tourists note that the garden is ideal for relaxing in silence – there are very few tourists here, as most simply do not know about the existence of this park. Also note that the garden is not directly connected with the Royal Palace, and to get to the residence, you will need to bypass it.
Park Campo del Moro is much larger than the previous one and covers an area of 20 hectares. Walking here, you can see more than 400 species of palm trees and more than 150 varieties of roses. Tourists note that it is very good to rest here in the summer heat – there are many gazebos and benches for park guests. Many recommend visiting the beautiful gardeners’ houses and artificial caves.
The history of this place began in 1844, when Queen Maria Cristina suggested building a small garden for the children of the royal family. The idea was liked, and already in 1890 the park took its present appearance.
The main feature of the garden is its division into zones – i.e. near each path only one type of plant grows. Thanks to this, the park has many small alleys.
Walking around Campo del Moro, you are sure to meet peacocks – they, just like visitors to the gardens, are released to walk through the alleys of the park.
The Royal Palace is really huge but, unfortunately, tourists are not allowed in all the rooms – 80% of the rooms are closed for travelers. However, do not get upset, because even a small part of the palace is capable of impressing many people.
- The Throne Room. This is the central and most beautiful room in the palace. The walls are of dark reddish shade, the ceiling is painted by the best Italian artists, there are mirrors along the perimeter of the room, and in the center of the hall there are two golden thrones. Tourists note that it is this part of the residence that impressed them the most – it looks so rich and lush.
- The Porcelain Room is a relatively small room, in which, as many tourists admit, begins to ripple in the eyes. All the walls are painted and decorated with bas-reliefs, which together form a wacky plant ornament. If you look closely, you can see images of grapes, palm trees and exotic birds.
- The hall of mirrors is a room with incredibly “lush” bas-reliefs of golden color, which give the room a solemn look. The mirrors here are hard to spot – so brightly evocative are the walls.
- The royal library of the palace looks much like other ancient libraries of Europe: high ceilings, with paintings on religious themes; wooden shelves with massive volumes and a globe at the entrance to the hall. Unlike other rooms of the palace, there are no gilded details and crystal chandeliers, so the room looks quite modest.
- The Hall of Columns is the brightest room in the upper part of the palace. The columns here are not as pompous and opulent as in the other rooms, but the ceiling is definitely worthy of attention – it was painted by Giaquinto. Along the perimeter of the room there are busts of political leaders, and on the walls you can see bas-reliefs of the XVII century. Interestingly, it was in this modest room, in comparison with other halls of the palace, where guests of honor were often welcomed and weddings were held.
- The Halberds’ Saloon is, in fact, a huge dining room where the royal family dined and received distinguished guests. The room is strikingly luxurious: huge crystal chandeliers on the ceiling, a long oak table in the center, and massive gilded vases by the French windows.
- The Gasparini Room, or the Royal Salon, is an amazing Rococo room with elements of Chinese painting. Many people compare it to a large lacquered casket – the walls are polished to a shine and the ceiling is decorated with massive bas-reliefs. Previously, members of the royal family dined here, but in recent years the room has been empty.
- The Picture Gallery is a spacious room that contains the most valuable and famous paintings by Velazquez, Goya, Sorolla and Madrazo.
- The Armory is the most minimalist room in the palace. There are no frescoes on the walls or ceiling, but knights in armor and iron horses stand almost everywhere in the room. This room would be especially interesting for children as the collection contains more than 50 types of armor from different times.
In addition to the Royal Palace of Madrid (Spain), there is a lot of other interesting objects on its territory, which is worth leaving at least two or three hours to visit.
Ancient pharmacy – a real work of art, decorated no worse than the halls in the palace. All the walls from floor to ceiling are occupied by small shelves, in which there are bottles with medicines and therapeutic infusions. In the corners of the room are massive gilded cabinets in the shape of small mirrors.
Despite the lack of exhibits as such, tourists love this place, because the most important thing has been preserved here – the atmosphere.
The royal kitchen in the palace is the largest and most accurate of the surviving kitchens in the palaces of Europe. It is famous for its size and kitchen accessories – dishes of the time and original cutlery. The room was restored in late 2017, and more than 1 million people visit the place each year.
Please note that a visit to the Royal Kitchen is not included in the standard ticket – you will need to pay a few extra euros.
The Royal Madrid Carriage Museum is considered one of the best in the world, on a par with Lisbon. There are about 25 kinds of carriages, in which the monarchs rode. There are simpler versions as well as carriages decorated with precious stones.
The royal chapel, like the palace itself, is made with scope – on the high ceiling you can see picturesque frescoes on religious subjects, and the inside of the dome is decorated with gilded bas-reliefs. In each wall is a golden niche, inside which is a canvas by an Italian or Spanish artist.
Address: Calle Bailen, 28071 Madrid, Spain.
Opening hours: 10.00 – 18.00 (winter), 10.00 – 20.00 (summer).
Tickets cost: 10 Euros for adults, 8 Euros for senior citizens and 5 Euros for students and youth. You can visit the museum for free every day from 18.00 until closing time. It is important that only EU citizens and residents of Latin America can do this.
Official website: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/en
Prices on the page are for November 2019.
- The Royal Palace has 3,418 rooms and covers an area of 135 square kilometers.
- The residence of the Kings in Madrid is the largest palace and park ensemble in Europe.
- More than 400 people and 100 horses take part in the ceremonial changing of the guard (every Wednesday at 12:00). This action lasts just under an hour.
- It is interesting that soldiers, who take part in the ceremonial change of the guard, wear uniforms, sewn according to the samples of the late XIX – early XX centuries – it is a traditional blue-white-red uniform.
- You can buy tickets to the Royal Palace not only at the ticket office, but also online. You can do this by using the form on the website: https://pvmgid.madrid.ticketbar.eu/ru/attractions/royal-palace-of-madrid-/
- By 12 noon there will be a huge number of tourists in line at the ticket office, so it is best to plan a visit to the museum as soon as it opens.
- At the museum you can buy an audio guide, but it’s cheaper to just download the official app on your phone (the information will be the same).
- Please note that filming in the palace is completely prohibited.
- At the exit of the Royal Palace is a large souvenir store. Here you can buy original gifts for friends and beautiful postcards with photos of the Royal Palace in Madrid.
- Every Wednesday at 12.00 near the palace there is a ceremonial changing of the guard. If you want to see this action up close, come early – at 11.00 there are already a lot of tourists.
Royal Palace in Madrid is a work of art, which is admired by tourists from all over the world.
Tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid:
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Royal Palace in Madrid
A famous symbol of Spain, the Royal Palace in Madrid, or Palacio Real de Madrid, spreads out on the west side of the city on the banks of the river Monsanares.
At 135,000 square meters, the majestic and monumental structure is the largest royal palace in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world.
Serving as the official royal residence, the palace for over 50 years has not observed the life of royal families, who visit it only during official receptions.
Built in the Italian Baroque style, it protects collections of paintings, sculptures, interior objects and antique weapons.
This historical wealth makes it a very interesting museum in Madrid, which is open to the public on days when there are no royal receptions.
A short visit to the Royal Palace (Palacio Real de Madrid)
Address: Calle de Bailén, Madrid.
Metro: Opera station (line 2 and line 5). For more information on how to get to the palace, see the bottom of the page.
- Royal Palace entrance ticket + digital guide ( book online ) – adults – € 16; children 5-16 – € 7; under 5 – free; from 65+ – € 7.
Tip 1. Buy tickets for the palace online in advance! It will shorten your waiting time and make your visit a lot easier!
Tip 2. With special offers you will have everything you need to travel around the city in one purchase:
Hours of operation.
Open daily: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (October through March) and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (April through September).
- Admission to the museum is free on May 18 (International Museum Day) and October 12 (Spanish Nation Day);
- Campo del Moro Park, next to which the palace is located, can be visited for free.
- Palacio Real is closed during official ceremonies.
In the Middle Ages, the site of the present complex was a fortress of the Moors and emirs of Cordoba and Toledo. And the later predecessor of the Royal structure was the Habsburg Alcazar.
Taking the throne in 1390, King Henry III of Castile made it the most visited residence of kings and their families.
In 1476, during the war of Castilian succession, the fortress was partially destroyed.
Together with some reconstruction work under King Philip II, the Golden Tower and the Royal Armory were built, destroyed later, in 1894.
The crucial moment that determined the construction of the current royal palace was the great fire that swept the Alcázar in 1734 and completely destroyed it.
Only parts of the foundation and some of the structures remained as a reminder.
The construction of a new large-scale structure began in 1738.
To avoid fires in the future, it was decided to use stone material with a minimum of wood in the construction.
The Baroque palace
The outstanding Italian architect of the time, Filippo Giovaro, supervised the construction. He created a complex project of unprecedented size, inspired by Bernini’s images for the Louvre Palace in Paris.
After Giuvaro’s sudden death, the project was taken over by his pupil, Juan Batisto Sachetti, who designed a square-shaped palace with a large patio and architectural elements all around.
In this structure, the image of the old Alcázar and the opulent Spanish outlines were seen.
The construction of the Royal Palace took 26 years.
During the reign of the monarch Ferdinand VI, Sarmiento’s father designed a sculptural composition of the palace facade that included numerous statues of Spanish kings from the time of the Visigoths and the four Roman emperors.
In 1749 sculptors Felipe de Castro and Juan Domingo Olivieri were commissioned to bring the idea to life. Together with them 7 famous masters worked on creation of 94 sculptures of great Spanish kings.
To minimize costs, it was decided to replace the marble with Colmenar limestone in the creation of the sculptures.
The second set of sculptures decorated the level of the main floor and included 14 pedestals for the rulers of the kingdoms of the Spanish nation.
Statues of Roman emperors, on the other hand, were placed at the front of the triple portal.
On the main balcony there is a relief “Spain Armiger” made of marble.
The palace is almost twice the size of the Palace of Versailles and Buckingham Palace.
In 1760, King Carlos III who arrived in Madrid from Naples ordered the removal of many of the sculptures from the cornice. They were subsequently dispersed to various Spanish gardens and parks.
Much later, in the 19th century, during the reign of King Fernando VII, the palace was transformed from being decorated in the old Italian style to the rich French style.
The king, as a lover of French silk curtains, decided to remove many of the old paintings when they were installed. But his wife, Isabel de Braganza, kept the canvases. According to legend, they later formed the base collection of the Prado Museum.
The height of the palace is the transverse base on which the main body of the building rises. It is divided into zones by giant pilasters, between which there are windows and balconies.
On the south façade of the palace, in the center, there is a sculptural composition mounted on a balustrade, which consists of statues of King Felipe V and his wife Maria Luisa Gabriela de Saboia and King Fernando VI and his wife Barbara de Braganza.
The choice of these rulers is not accidental. The first couple ruled in Spain during the period of the beginning of the construction of the palace, and the second ruled during the period of the end.
The statues of the four Roman emperors, which flanked the main portal, were replaced by Tuscan columns. The former have in turn been moved into the central courtyard.
Interior of the Royal Palace
The rich decoration inside the palace complex consists of numerous exhibits of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, clocks, chandeliers, porcelain, weapons, and musical instruments.
The splendid collection of items preserved from different eras makes the Royal Palace one of the best museums in Europe.
The beautiful grand staircase, the finest work of Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, leads to several halls designed for royal receptions. Chief among them:
- The Throne Room. This one is in the Rococo style and is the most richly decorated of the others. The ceiling was painted by the artist Tiepolo in 1764. The walls are upholstered in luxurious red damask with silver threads. A rich collection of antique furniture, clocks and mirrors is enhanced by a crystal chandelier of Venetian silver.
- Gasparini Room. Presents an ensemble in rococo style consisting of walls decorated with silk and silver threads, intricate moldings on the ceiling, furniture and mirrors of the same pattern. A magnificent candelabrum is reflected in the marble field and table, decorated with mosaics.
- Porcelain Room. A special room whose main decorative element is turquoise-colored porcelain, presented in the form of panels on the walls and created according to sketches by the Italian artist and sculptor Jose Gricci.
- Parade Dining Room. Inaugurated in 1879 on the occasion of the marriage between King Alfonso XII and his second wife Maria Cristina. It seats 145 diners. Lavishly decorated with 16th century tapestries, frescoes, porcelain and bronze crystal chandeliers.
- Royal Chapel. In the Chapel, designed by Ventura Rodriguez, the shape of the base – the Greek cross – is clearly visible. The main decoration are frescoes by Corrado Giacinto.
- The Royal Armory. It represents the main collection of arms and armor in Spain. Its owners were Maximilian of Austria, Charles V, Sebastian of Portugal, Boabdil, Philip the Beautiful, and others.
The Royal Palace in Madrid has a large collection of artworks of a variety, from paintings and sculptures to containers from the Royal Apothecary.
Due to lack of space, some of them are not presented for viewing and are stored in the vault.
But, in the near future, a separate museum complex called “Museum of the Royal Collections” is planned to open near the cathedral of Almudena.
This building, which will be partially below ground level, will house the collections on a rotating basis. The most significant of these are:
- Antonio Stradivari’s musical instruments. The Royal Palace houses four instruments of the famous string-maker: two violins, a viola and a cello. Each of them is richly decorated with decorations.
- Paintings. Not all of the paintings, which were in the palace at different times, are on display. Many of them were moved to the Prado Museum in the 19th century. Those remaining here still constitute a rich collection, covering several genres, schools and eras: ⇒ the famous 4 paintings depicting King Carlos IV and his wife in different clothes, painted by Francisco de Goya; ⇒ the paintings of Diego Velázquez, painted in the style of French supernaturalism; one of the most famous is “Caballo Blanco” and also the still lifes of the Count Duke Olivares; ⇒ the engraving “Juan Jose de Austria on Horse” by Ribera; ⇒ the paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries, painted The French painter Corneille de Lyon, the Flemish painter Roger Van der Weyden, the Spanish Renaissance painter Juan de Flandes, the Flemish painter Michel Sittow;⇒ Caravaggio’s famous “Straw with the Head of John the Baptist”;⇒ the cycle of frescos that adorn the vaults of the building, executed by famous artists: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Francisco Boyu, Corrado Guiaquino, and others.
- Sculpture . The sculpture collection is of lesser importance than the painting collection, but the seventeenth-century sculpture series, transferred from the Alcázar fortress, is exceptional. Particularly noteworthy is the series of planets scattered in the Throne and Column Halls.
- Furniture. The great value of the palace furniture lies in its authenticity, because the furniture has served during several reigns. The main styles are Rococo, Neoclassical and Empire.
- Clocks. The palace has the largest collection of clocks in Spain. Outstanding are the 17th century clocks made in Nuremberg.
- Porcelain collection. The most significant series from the collection are items from the wedding of King Carlos III and Maria Amalia de Saggioni.
- Tapestry Collection. Considered the world’s premier collection after the pieces housed in the Quirinale Palace in Rome. The tapestry series consists mainly of pieces made in Brussels and at the Royal Tapestry Factory in Madrid.
Adjacent Gardens and Parks
The Royal Palace in Madrid is also called the Palacio de Oriente (“Oriental Palace”) .
This is despite the fact that it is located in the western area of Madrid.
The palace is next to Plaza de Oriente (“Oriente Square”), which in turn closes the eastern side of the palace complex.
On the other border of the square, opposite the main facade of the palace, stands the Royal Theater.
Around the Royal Palace are several parks and gardens, which together make up a single composition.
The Palacio Real’s main garden complexes are Campo del Moro and Sabatini:
- The first complex is so named in honor of the fact that in 1109, presumably it was here that a Muslim camp was set up in order to regain supremacy over Madrid Square. The gardens were for a long time in utter disrepair and it was not until the accession to the throne of Queen Isabella II that substantial landscaping began. At this time a romantic park was founded and fountains moved from the palace of Aranjuez were installed.
- The Sabatini Gardens are richer in richness. They are located in the northern part of the Royal Palace and were created in the 1930s. They represent the French style and are named after the architect Sabatini, who designed the stables for the royal service, which were in the old days on this site. These gardens are adorned with a pond, around which, at a distance from each other, are statues of some of the Spanish kings. Between them there are fountains.
Opening hours and ticket prices
Opening hours vary between fall-winter and spring-summer seasons:
- October – March: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m;
- April-September: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Royal Palace is open for guided tours every day, seven days a week.
- adults – 16 euro;
- Child – 7 euros (5 – 16 years);
- Pensioners – 7 euro (after 65 years);
- Children up to 5 years old – free of charge.
How to buy a ticket to the Royal Palace online
Buy tickets online at basic or discounted rates and avoid the queues at the entrance can be done on the website of our official partner ⇒ .
You can do this by spending just a few minutes:
- Go to the website at the link .
- Enter the desired date, time, and number of tickets, and click the “Book” tab.
- Check the tickets and time, if free cancellation is needed, tick the special box, and press the “Go to the next step” button.
- Enter personal information and mailbox, and click “Confirm booking”.
- Choose a payment method, enter your payment card details, click “proceed to payment” and pay.
- Receive tickets in your mail.
If you have a desire – combine your visit to the Royal Palace with a visit to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum by buying a special all-inclusive ticket ⇒ .
Every Wednesday you can watch the solemn ritual – the changing of the guard of the Guards. The performance lasts for 7 minutes, with a 30 minute break, from 11:00 to 14:00.
The beginning of each month is marked by the change of the guard with 100 of foot Guards, 100 riders and a large orchestra.
Interestingly, you can watch this action is absolutely free.
Where is the palace and how to get there
The main sight of Madrid is located at: Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain.
How to get to the palace:
- By metro , taking the 2nd or 5th line to the Opera station;
- By bus, take either of the lines: 25, 3, 39 or 148, to the San Quintin stop;
- By streetcar to the Estacion de Principe Pio stop;
- by bicycle (the nearest rental station is BiciMad no. 36).
There are several hotels and apartments located just 300-400 meters from the Royal Palace.
In addition to comfortable accommodations, from the terraces of some of them offers an excellent view of the architectural complex.
The Royal Palace in Madrid is a huge and beautiful monument of architectural art.
Now active for official royal ceremonies, at the same time it houses a rich collection of paintings, sculptures and interior objects of several eras and styles.
Moreover, each hall, staircase and other interior and exterior elements bear museum and historical value. They are the embodiment of the centuries-old kingdom of Spanish kings.