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Royal Palace of Madrid

Home to an astounding art collection, this palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family and is today used for state ceremonies.

TravelCurious Tip

It's worth shelling out €4 for the audio guide, which will greatly enhance your appreciation of all the opulence.

Royal stories

Madrid's Royal Palace is a site of turbulent history. The Royal Alcázar of Madrid was erected here by Muhammad I, Umayyad Emir of Cordoba, between 860 and 880; after the Moors were driven out in the 11th century, it came into Spanish hands. The Habsburg Emperor Charles V extended and renovated the castle in 1537; Philip II made Madrid his capital in 1561 and continued the renovations, as did Philips III through V until 1700.

A fire on Christmas Eve in 1734 destroyed the Alcázar, as well as many precious works of art held there. Luckily, the King had moved much of his art collection to Buen Retiro Palace beforehand. Several works, including Velazquez's Las Meninas, - which in fact depicts figures from the Spanish court in a large room of the Alcázar - were saved by being thrown out of a window. The new baroque palace was finally completed (slowed by the death of its original architect) in 1764, and there have been numerous additions since.


Art and architecture

After all this, there's plenty to see here. The main façade faces the grand colonnaded Plaza de la Armería; the Plaza de Oriente, which features statues of the Gothic Kings, joins the palace's eastern façade to the Teatro Real. The Campo de Moro gardens, landscaped in Romanticist style, are named so because the Muslim leader Ali ben Yusuf allegedly camped here with his troops in 1109 during an attempted reconquest of Madrid; the 20th century Sabatini Gardens to the north follow a symmetrical French design.

Inside, all is opulence in a royal residence that rivals that of Versailles. The ground floor alone is spectacular, with the Royal Library only a small part of the legacy of kings and queens. The Royal Pharmacy includes fascinating jars and pottery from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Royal Armoury is matched in grandeur only by the Imperial Armoury of Vienna. It displays arms dating back to as early as the 13th century, and magnificent tournament pieces made for Charles V and Philip II - including the armour that Charles V wore in his 1548 portrait by Titian, which is housed in the Prado.

The first floor comprises the old royal apartments, which are full of important sculptures, tapestries, frescoes and paintings: Charles III's throne, sceptre and crown are also on display, and the Stradivarius Room contains a viola, two cellos and two violins by supreme luthier Antonio Stradivari. Don't miss the Palacio Real for a glimpse at royal glory.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Madrid
Plaza Mayor
This colossal square has hosted a variety of events over its 400 year history, from street markets to public executions.
Church of Santiago
An austere neoclassical church alongside the Camino de Santiago.
Plaza de Ramales
A square right beside the Royal Palace, this was the centre of 15th century Madrid.
Plaza de Oriente
A historic square with some fabulous sculptures, located right at the entrance to the Royal Palace.
Teatro Real
'El Real' is one of Europe's great theatres, and the major opera house of Madrid.
Barrio de La Latina
The oldest area in Madrid, La Latina was the city's ancient Islamic citadel.

Related Tours

Historic Madrid for First-Timers
Visit Madrid, Spain’s vibrant multicultural capital, to discover its historic plazas and royal palaces, neoclassical churches and the winding streets of its Medieval quarter.
 
  • Start your tour in Madrid’s bustling heart, Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
  • Stop at Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate) to photograph its famous bear statue and clock tower
  • Learn about Spain’s epic hike, the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), at the Iglesia de Santiago (St James’s Church)
  • Explore Madrid’s Gothic heritage at Ramales and the Plaza de Oriente (Eastern Square)
  • Marvel at the grand Royal Palace and Royal Theatre
  • Stroll the medieval streets of the Barrio de la Latina (Latin Quarter)
  • Finish at Plaza de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Square), a food, culture and nightlife hotspot
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Searching for a quick, informative glimpse of Madrid? This tour is the perfect choice for your first visit to Madrid, taking in the city’s main areas and landmarks. 
Madrid's History & Architecture Live Virtual Tour
On this Live Virtual Tour, we will take you to Madrid, Europe's sunniest capital. We will take you around the city and explore Madrid's history, architecture and iconic landmarks. On this Private “Madrid's History & Architecture Live Virtual Tour" you will discover: 
 
  •  Plaza de Isabel II - a historic public square between the Sol and Palacio areas in the centre of Madrid
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Get ready to discover Madrid's History & Architecture on this Private Live Virtual Tour. Spain's capital city is home to elegant boulevards and manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro but is also rich in history, art and architecture. Budding architects, artists and art historians will be gripped by this enthralling private live tour of Madrid's History and Architecture.
The Best of Madrid Night Virtual Tour
On this Live Virtual Tour, we will virtually take you to Madrid, one of Europe's most vibrant capitals, with a thriving night life. On this Private “The Best of Madrid Night Virtual Tour" you will discover: 

  •  Plaza de Isabel II - a historic public square between the Sol and Palacio areas in the centre of Madrid
  •  Opera House - known as Teatro Real Teatro Real it was founded in 1818, closed in 1925 and reopened in 1966
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  •  Royal Palace a baroque palace and Armory, displaying historic weaponry
  •  Statue group of Kings - The statues representing the Kings of Spanish history were created in the mid-18th century to decorate the Palace of Madrid
  •  Cathedral (Exterior) - Almudena Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid and was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993
  •  Cathedral (Interior is possible when no services are happening) - it's also home to a museum that boasts effigies of the city’s patron saints: the Virgin Mary of la Almudena and San Isidro Labrador
  •  Moorish Wall - also known as the Arab Walls of Madrid it is the oldest construction in the capital
 Soak up the atmosphere of Madrid by night on this Private Live Virtual Tour. Get ready to enjoy the buzz of Madrid after dark with its lit-up boulevards, cathedrals and squares. Budding architects, artists and art historians will be gripped by this enthralling private The Best of Madrid Night Virtual Tour.
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