The Royal Palace of Madrid
: Palacio Real de Madrid
) is the official residence of the Spanish royal family
at the city of Madrid
, although now used only for state ceremonies. The palace has 135,000 square metres (1,450,000 sq ft) of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms.
It is the largest functioning royal palace and the largest by floor area in Europe
King Felipe VI
and the royal family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the significantly more modest Palace of Zarzuela
on the outskirts of Madrid. The palace is now open to the public, except during state functions, although it is so large that only a selection of the best rooms are on the visitor route at any one time, the route being changed every few months. An admission fee of €13 is charged; however, at some times it is free. The palace is owned by the Spanish state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional
, a public agency of the Ministry of the Presidency.
The palace is on Calle de Bailén ("Bailén Street") in the western part of downtown Madrid, east of the Manzanares River
, and is accessible from the Ópera metro station
The last monarch who lived continuously in the palace was King Alfonso XIII
, although Manuel Azaña
, president of the Second Republic
, also inhabited it, making him the last head of state to do so. During that period the palace was known as "Palacio Nacional". There is still a room next to the Real Capilla, which is known by the name "Office of Azaña".
The interior of the palace is notable for its wealth of art and the use of many types of fine materials in the construction and the decoration of its rooms. It includes paintings by artists such as Caravaggio
, Juan de Flandes
, Francisco de Goya
, and Velázquez
, and frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
, Corrado Giaquinto
, 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, silverware, and the world's only complete Stradivarius
History of the building
Historical evolution of the Royal Alcazar of Madrid.
The only drawing of the castle from the Middle Ages
is one from 1534 by Cornelius Vermeyen.
The baroque palace
On Christmas Eve 1734, the Alcázar was destroyed by a fire that originated in the rooms of the French painter Jean Ranc
. Response to the fire was delayed due to the warning bells being confused with the call to mass. For fear of looting, the doors of the building remained closed, hampering rescue efforts. Many works of art were lost, such as the Expulsion of the Moors
, by Diego Velázquez
. Others, such as Las Meninas
, were rescued by tossing them out the windows. Fortunately, many pieces were saved because shortly before the blaze the king ordered that much of his collection be moved to the Buen Retiro Palace
. This fire lasted four days and completely destroyed the old Alcázar, whose remaining walls were finally demolished in 1738.
Italian architect Filippo Juvarra
oversaw work on the new palace and devised a lavish project of enormous proportions inspired by Bernini's
plans for the Louvre
. This plan was not realized, due to Juvarra's untimely death in March 1736.
His disciple Giambattista Sacchetti, also known as Juan Bautista Sacchetti or Giovanni Battista Sacchetti
was chosen to continue the work of his mentor. Sacchetti designed the structure to encompass a large square courtyard and resolved sightline problems by creating projecting wings.
In 1760, Charles III
called upon Sicilian Francesco Sabatini
architect, to enlarge the building. Sabatini's original idea was to frame the Plaza de la Armería with a series of galleries and arcades, to accommodate various dependencies[clarification needed]
, by constructing two wings along the square. Only the extension of the southeast tower known as la de San Gil
was completed. Sabatini also planned to extend the north side with a large wing that echoed the style of the main building and included three square courtyards that would be smaller than the large central courtyard. Work on this expansion started quickly but was soon interrupted, leaving the foundations buried under a platform on which the royal stables were later built. The stables were demolished in the 20th century and replaced by the Sabatini Gardens
. Charles III first occupied the palace in 1764.
In the 19th century, Ferdinand VII
, who spent many years imprisoned in the Château de Valençay
, began the most thorough renovation of the palace. The aim of this redesign was to turn the old-fashioned Italian-style building into a modern French-style palace. However, his grandson Alfonso XII
proposed to turn the palace into a Victorian-style
residence. Alfonso's plans were designed by the architect José Segundo de Lema and consisted of remodeling several rooms, replacing marble floors with parquet, and adding period furniture.
In the twentieth century, restoration work was needed to repair damage suffered during the Spanish Civil War
, by repairing or reinstalling decoration and decorative trim and replacing damaged walls with faithful reproductions of the originals.
One of the entrances to the Palace.
The main facade of the Palace, the one facing the Plaza de la Armeria, consists of a two-story rusticated stone base, from which rise Ionic columns
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 balustrade
. This was adorned with a series of statues of saints and kings, but these were relocated elsewhere under the reign of Charles III to give the building a more classical appearance.
The restoration of the facade in 1973, which includes Sabitini's balcony of four Doric columns
, returned some of Sachetti's sculptures. These include statues of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II
and the Inca emperor Atahualpa
, works by Juan Pascual de Mena
and Domingo Martínez, respectively. Representations of the Roman emperors Honorius
, Theodosius I
, and Arcadius
by G.D. Olivieri, and Trajan
by Felipe de Castro
were placed in the Prince's courtyard. Flanking Sabatini's clock the Statues of Philip V, Ferdinand VI
, Barbara of Braganza
and Maria Luisa of Savoy
interspersed with The Rising Sun Following the Zodiac
. Above the clock is the royal coat of arms flanked by angels, and, above that, bells that date from 1637 and 1761.
View from the Plaza de la Armeria
The square as it exists now was laid-out in 1892, according to a plan by the architect Enrique María Repullés. However, the history of this square dates back to 1553, the year in which Philip II ordered a building to house the royal stables.
The Almudena Cathedral
faces the palace across the plaza. Its exterior is neo-classical to match its surroundings while its interior is neo-gothic. Construction was funded by King Alfonso XII to house the remains of his wife Mercedes of Orléans
Construction of the church began in 1878 and concluded in 1992.
Narciso Pascual Colomer, the same architect who crafted the Plaza de Oriente
, designed the layout of the plaza in 1879, but failed to materialize. The site now occupied by the Plaza de la Armería was used for many decades as anteplaza de armas. Sachetti tried to build a cathedral to finish the cornice of the Manzanares
, and Sabatini proposed to unite this building with the royal palace, to form a single block. Both projects were ignored by Charles III.
Ángel Fernández de los Ríos
in 1868 proposed the creation of a large wooded area that would travel all around the Plaza de Oriente, in order to give a better view of the Royal Palace. A decade later Segundo de Lema added a staircase to the original design of Fernández, which led to the idea of Francisco de Cubas to give more importance to the emerging church of Almudena.
Plaza de Oriente
The Plaza de Oriente is a rectangular park that connects the east facade of Palacio Real to the Teatro Real
. The eastern side of plaza is curved and bordered by several cafes in the adjoining buildings. Although the plaza was part of Sacchetti's plan for the palace, construction did not begin until 1808 when King Joseph Bonaparte
, who ordered the demolition of approximately 60 medieval structures, that included a church, monastery and royal library, located on the site. Joseph was deposed before construction was completed, it was finished by Queen Isabella II
who tasked architect Narciso Pascual Colomer
with creating the final design in 1844.
Statues of the Gothic kings in the Plaza de Oriente.
Pathways divide the Plaza into three main plots: the Central Gardens, the Cabo Noval Gardens and the Lepanto Gardens. The Central Gardens are arranged in a grid around the central monument to Philip IV
, following the Baroque
model garden. They consist of seven flowerbeds, each bordered with box hedges and holding small cypress, yew and magnolias
and annual flowers. The north and south boundaries of the Central Gardens are marked by a row of statues, popularly known as the Gothic kings
— sculptures representing five Visigoth rulers and fifteen rulers of the early Christian kingdoms in the Reconquista
. They are carved from limestone
, and are part of a series dedicated to all monarchs of Spain
. These were ordered for the decoration of the Palacio Real and were executed between 1750 and 1753. Engineers felt the statues were too heavy for the palace balustrade, so they were left on ground level where their lack of fine detail is readily apparent. The remainder of the statues are in the Sabatini Gardens.
Campo del Moro Gardens
View of Paseo Principal, part of Campo del Moro Gardens.
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 first improvements to the area occurred under King Philip IV, who built fountains and planted various types of vegetation, but its overall look remained largely neglected. During the construction of the palace various landscaping projects were put forth based on the gardens of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso
, but lack of funds hampered further improvement until the reign of Isabel II who began work in earnest. Following the taste of the times, the park was designed in the Romanticist
The Triton fountain from the Islet Garden of Aranjuez and the Fountain of the Shells from the Palace of the Infante Luis at Boadilla del Monte were aligned in the center of the right angled pathways by Isabel II, according to plans by Narciso Pascual Colomer
. Under the regency of Maria Christina of Austria
, the park was reformed according to Ramon Oliva's romanticism
plans. Between the Fountain of Tritons and the palace is The Large Cavern or Grotto (Camellia House), built by Juan de Villanueva
during the reign of Joseph Bonaparte
. Sacchetti's 1757-1758 Little Cavern or Grotto (Potato Room) is in front of the Parade Ground.
View from the Sabatini Gardens.
The Sabatini Gardens adjoin the north side of the Palacio real and extend to the calle de Bailén and the cuesta de San Vicente. The garden follows the symmetrical French design and work began in 1933, under the Republican government. Although they were designed by Zaragozan architect Fernando García Mercadal, they were named for Francesco Sabatini who designed the royal stables that previously occupied this site. 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. Geometrically sited between its rides, there are several fountains.
The Republican government constructed the gardens to return the area from control of the royal family to the people, the public was not allowed in the gardens until 1978 when they were opened by King Juan Carlos I.
Interior of the palace
Built by Sabatini in 1789 when Charles IV wanted it moved to the opposite side of where Sabatini placed it in 1760, it 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 Royal Library was moved to the lower floor during the regency of Maria Christina
. The bookshelves date from the period of Charles III, Isabel II and Alfonso XII.
The Archives of the Royal Palace contains approximately twenty thousand articles ranging from the Disastrous decade (1823-1833) to the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic
in 1931. In addition, it holds some scores of musicians of the Royal Chapel, privileges of various kings, the founding order of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
, the testament of Philip II and correspondence of most of the kings of the House of Bourbon
During the reign of Felipe II
the Royal Pharmacy became an appendage of the royal household and ordered the supply of medicines, a role that continues today.
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. The building, designed by J.S. de Lema and E. Repulles
, was opened in 1897
Still, the armoury retains some of the most important pieces of this art in Europe and the world, including a shield and burgonet
by Francesco and Filippo Negroli
, one of the most famous designers in the armourers' guild.
King Charles III's Apartments
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
. An 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 Throne Room dates from Charles III in 1772, and features Tiepolo's ceiling fresco, The Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy
. Bronze sculptures include the Four Cardinal Virtues
, four of the Seven Planets, Satyr
, and four Medici lions
flanking the dual throne.
Charles III's Anteroom
(Saleta) contains a 1774 ceiling fresco Apotheosis of Trajan
by A.R. Mengs. The Antechamber of Charles III (The Conversation Room) also contains a ceiling fresco by Mengs, The Apotheosis of Hercules
. This room has four royal family portraits by Goya
The Queen's apartments and banqueting hall
Apartments of Infante Luis
The Chamber of the Infante Luis, Musical Instruments Room, has a ceiling fresco by Francisco Bayeu depicting Providence Presiding over the Virtues and Faculties of Man
Designed in 1748 by Sacchetti and Ventura Rodríguez
, the chapel features ceiling frescoes by Giaquinto, including The Trinity
, Allegory of Religion
, Glory and the Holy Trinity Crowning the Virgin
. Above the High Altar is Ramon Bayeu
's St. Michael
. The reliquary
altar has Ercole Ferrata
's 1659 silver relief Pope Leo I Stopping Attila at the Gates of Rome
The Crown Room
The Gasparini Room, Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain, 1927
The Porcelain Room, Royal Palace, Madrid, 1927
Salon of Charles III, Royal Palace, Madrid, 1927
Spanish Royal Crown and Scepter
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Last edited on 17 March 2021, at 12:04
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