We recently took a trip to Spain and spent some time in Madrid. During that time I took the opportunity to cross off one of the items on my bucket list. My family and I went on a guided tour of the Royal Palace. It allowed us to learn a lot about protocol, fun facts and history. We also got the chance to look at the beautiful decoration and a clock collection.
Visiting the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) of Spain was a huge bucket list item for me. This is one of the few countries that still has an active monarchy and the palace is still the official residence of the King and Queen of Spain. I don’t know if they live here full time. However, that is the reason why the tour only takes you to 23 of the 3,000 rooms in the palace.
Yes, that’s right – 3,000 rooms. Can you imagine how enormous this place is?
The dining room alone can fit over 150 people at one time during a dinner gathering. I don’t even think I know that many people to invite over for dinner.
Just as any other monarchy, the Spanish monarchy has tons of protocols and traditions. If someone is meeting the king, everything is run so smoothly that there is never any wait. It is such a precise and perfected process that it becomes almost like an art form.
For our group the most fascinating one facts were in the dining room:
1. The main chandelier is placed right in the center of the room. This is where the king and queen sit. You won’t see them at the head of the table; instead they sit in the center of the large table on opposite sides of one another
2. The glasses all have to be perfectly lined up. For some reason it is so important that a thread is used to make sure they are perfect.
Fun Facts I Picked Up on the Tour
These kinds of tours provide so much information that you can only retain so much. So here are a few that stuck most with me:
NOTE: once inside you can’t take photos or videos.
1. Charles IV used to collect clocks. You will see them everywhere. There are over 150 of them throughout the palace. Each is unique and truly a work of art. They had to hire someone specifically to clean them and make sure they are running ok.
2. The kings and queens, back in the day, were served in separate rooms. They never ate together.
3. One room had an embroidery renovation of the walls of pure silk that took over two years to complete.
They offer an audio tour, but we took the guided one. It truly makes a difference to have a guide. They know how to keep the kids interested and can answer any questions you have.
Interesting Facts about the Royal Palace Madrid
- The Royal Palace is located within a medieval fortress that was turned into a luxurious palace by Juan II, Carlos V and Felipe II called Alcazar de Madrid.
- It has been the official royal residence since 1561.
- The original reconstruction made by Felipe II and Felipe IV was destroyed by a fire in 1734.
- Felipe V decided to re build the palace. For this task he called the best European architect of the time Filippo Juvarra.
- The re-construction started on 1738 and ended in 1751.
- In 1760 Carlos III decided to call Corrado Giaquinto (the painter of the court), Venetian Giambattista Tiepolo and German Antonio Rafael Mengs to create artwork to decorate it. They were a few of the most famous artists in Europe at the time.
- Carlos III was the first monarch to live in it. He moved in on 1764.
- The room that was used by Carlos III still keeps its original decoration.
- During the 18th century its walls were covered with the best paintings from the royal collection.
- The throne room is decorated in a rococo style.
- The huge bronze and crystal lamps on the ceilings were added later by Fernando VII.
- The most recent renovation happened in 1979.
- The rooms where monarchs lived until 1931 are now used to host audiences with the current king.
- Royal Palace of Madrid is also home to La Real Armeria. This is one of the most important collections of weapons in Europe.
- The garden of the palace was created by Felipe II when the court of Madrid was established.
- Campo del Moro Gardens can be translated to Moor’s Field. It is in honor of the battle won by Christians against the Almoravid army in 1110.
- It was designed to mimic the gardens surrounding the palace at Versailles.
- A major remodeling happened in 1843 by orders of Isabel II.
Information for Visiting the Royal Palace Madrid
Phone: 91 454 87 00
– Winter (october to march) – 10:00 -18:00
– Summer (april to september) – 10:00 -20:00
– Basic fee (Palace + Expo) 11€
– Joint Rate (Palace + Queen Sofia Museum) 14€
– Kids (4 to 16 years) and Adults over 65 years old – 6€
– Kids under 5 years old – Free
– Guide 5€
– Audible guide 6€