Palacio Real, Madrid is the Royal Palace and is therefore used for official ceremonies. Despite this, more than half the state apartments are open to the public.
Apart from sumptuous and sometimes breathtaking interiors you could catch the grand Changing of the Guard ceremony, which begins at noon on the first Wednesday of each month.
In front of the Palace façade is the Plaza de Oriente full of statues of Spanish rulers. They are found in this pretty square because they didn’t meet with royal approval, so didn’t make their intended position on the Palaces balustrade.
The bronze equestrian statue of Felipe IV sitting grandly above a fountain is a popular spot for tourists grabbing a photograph. Except my husband, who is photographing me, photographing Felipe…
The palace stands on the sight of a 9th century Muslim castle, or Alcázar, which was wooden and burnt down in 1734.
Expensive apartments face the palace and it’s pretty green plaza.
It’s cool greenery makes for a pleasant place to rest and sit alongside historic VIP’s.
You enter into a huge stoned space which lays itself calmly to the doors of the palace. Groups of tourists use this as an opportunity for group shots.
The Catedral de la Almudena next door looks splendid from here.
This beautifully gilded lamp sets the palacial backdrop off and also sets the scale of this former royal household, which boasts more rooms than any other palace in Europe.
It’s also a romantic spot for a quick smooch.
We were lucky enough to visit during De Caravaggio a Bernini expedition (finishing on the 16th October). There were some moving paintings to wonder at.
This seemingly uncomplicated but stunning painting of flowers was my favourite. I could hardly step away.
But Caravaggio is one of the most emotive painters and although I can hardly bare the images he paints, they always draw you in.
The main staircase is slightly crowded but it barely matters as you will want to look up…
When Napoleon first saw it after placing his brother on the Spanish throne, he said, ‘Joseph your lodgings will be better than mine’.
The frescoes on the main stairway are truly beautiful and dreamy in colour. They depict Spanish Royalty protecting the triumph of the church and it’s religion.
As usual a former king (this one is Charles III) is sculpted as a Roman Emperor (above).
Two marble lions guard the stairs.
I think this one looks really welcoming!
Sadly no photographs are allowed within the Palace rooms, but I’ll do my best to guide you through.
Halberdiers’ Room: Has a ceiling fresco depicting the Triumph of Aeneas and is the room were from the guards were distributed to the rest of the rooms.
Hall of Columns: Sumptuously decorated with frescos of the sun god Apollo and 17th century Flemish silk tapestries it is still used for balls and banquets today. The chandeliers are immense and extremely beautiful.
Throne Room: This regal red room glorifies the Spanish monarchy. Bronze lions made in Rome in 1651 guard the two gold chairs of the throne.
The Gala Room: Is a huge banqueting hall created for the wedding of Alfonso XII in 1879. An impossibly long table table sits laid and sets the scene.
Royal Chapel: This is very grand. A dome sits above on massive columns of black marble. The seats for the Spanish King and Queen at first glance resembles a royal bed!
Pharmacy: This was created at the end of the 16th century to supply herbal medicines to the court. You’ll see glass retorts, pestles, mortars and jars on gilded shelves and the distillery reconstructs how they were used.
Gasparini Room: This room is dazzling! It was used as Charles III’s robing room. The ceiling and wallpaper are covered in fruits and flowers and the floor is beautifully patterned. It’s a ‘wow!’ room.
Armoury: Mainly jousting, tournament and parade wear rather than battlefield.
There is a scenic view point over the palace garden, commonly known as ‘Campo del Moro’ can be found left of the palace entrance (or opposite the entrance to the palace grounds). Expect to take your selfie elbow to elbow in high season.
Find the Palacio Real, Madrid here.
Bailén Street, 6
Phone: +34 91 454 88 00
The palace is partially open to public, except when it is being used for official business.
Winter (October to March): Daily 10:00 to 18:00.
Summer (April to September): Daily 10:00 to 20:00.
Important: It may be closed for the celebration of Official Acts.
Other great Madrid guides:
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