The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid.
Now used mainly for ceremonial and public functions, the Royal Palace of Madrid is open to the public as a museum of the building’s and the country’s history.
King Felipe VI and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.
The Royal Palace of Madrid was built in the 18th century by order of Philip V on the site of the old Alcázar fortress, a former Moorish castle.
The palace has 135,000 square meters (1,450,000 square feet) of floorspace and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area.
The palace has 870 windows, 240 balconies and 44 staircases.
Visitors enter the Palace via the large Plaza de la Armería.
The main facade of the Palace, consists of a two-story rusticated stone base, from which rise Ionic columns on Tuscan pilasters framing the windows of the three main floors. The upper story is hidden behind a cornice which encircles the building and is capped with a large ballustrade.
For interior decoration, rich materials were used: spanish marble, stucco, mahogany doors and windows and important works of art, particularly frescoes by leading artists of the moment as Giaquinto, Tiepolo and Mengs and his Spanish followers Bayeu and Maella.
Grand Staircase is composed of a single piece of San Agustin marble. Two lions grace the landing, one by Felipe de Castro and another by Robert Michel. The frescoes on the ceiling is by Corrado Giaquinto and depicts Religion Protected by Spain. On the ground floor is a statue of Charles III in Roman toga, with a similar statue on the first floor depicting Charles IV. The four cartouches at the corners depict the elements of water, earth, air and fire.
The Throne Room – The largest and most magnificent room in the Palace due to the superb mirrors and the rich furnishings with which it is decorated. Tiepolo had a great deal of imagination and painted with both warmth and ease. The decoration of the Throne Room has been preserved intact from the reign of King Charles III.
The Hall of Columns has a ceiling fresco by Giaquinto, representing The Sun before Which All the Forces of Nature Awaken and Rejoice, an allegory of the king as Apollo. A 1878 bronze statue of Charles V Vanquishing Fury is by Ferdinand Barbedienne. The bronze chandeliers were made in Paris in 1846, and installed by Isbella II for her balls.
The Antechamber of Charles III (The Conversation Room) contains a 1774 ceiling fresco Apotheosis of Trajan by A.R. Mengs. Charles III’s Anteroom also contains a ceiling fresco by Mengs, The Apotheosis of Hercules. This room has four royal family portraits by Goya.
Royal Armory – Along with the Imperial Armoury of Vienna, the armory is considered one of the best in the world and consists of pieces as early as the 13th century. Among the most remarkable pieces stands the armory and full tools that Emperor Charles V used in the Battle of Mühlberg, and which was portrayed by Titian in the famous equestrian portrait of the Museo del Prado.
In front of the Palace is the Plaza de Oriente, a beautiful rectangular park with an equestrian statue of Philips IV. Pathways divide the Plaza into three main plots: the Central Gardens, the Cabo Noval Gardens and the Lepanto Gardens.
The Palace gardens are known as the Campo del Moro (“The Moor’s Field”), but they originated during the reign of King Philip II. Their present appearance dates from 1890. These gardens are so named because the Muslim leader Ali ben Yusuf allegedly camped here with his troops in 1109 during an attempted reconquest of Madrid.
The Sabatini Gardens are a neoclassical-style gardens. The garden follows the symmetrical French design and work began in 1933, under the Republican government. These gardens feature a large rectangular pond which is surrounded by four fountains and statues of Spanish kings which were originally intended to crown the Royal Palace.
The Palace contains paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez and Francisco de Goya and frescoes by Corrado Giaquinto, Juan de Flandes, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Anton Raphael Mengs.
Other collections of great historical and artistic importance preserved in the building include the Royal Armoury of Madrid, Porcelain, Watches, Furniture and Silverware.
Also, the world’s only complete Stradivarius string quintet is in the palace.
The restorations made during the twentieth century repaired damage suffered during the Civil Wars in Spain by repairing or reinstalling decoration and decorative trim, replacing damaged walls with faithful reproductions of the original.
Madrid’s Royal Palace of is considered by many to be one of the finest palaces in Europe.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the top tourist attractions in Madrid.