royal palace of madrid history and architecture

Royal Palace of Madrid History & Architecture

Madrid is one of the most visited cities in Spain. Among its innumerable tourist hotspots is the Royal Palace of Madrid. This cultural landmark has been a part of Madrid’s tourism brochures for decades. Also known as Palacio de Oriente or the Madrid Palace, this majestic landmark is widely known for its rich history and captivating architecture. If you’re planning a visit, read on to know more about its inception, background and design. 

Royal Palace of Madrid At A Glance

royal palace of madrid history & architecture
  • The palace was first built under the rule of Muhammad I, the Umayyad Emir of Cordoba
  • The initial structure dates back to around 860 C.E.; the new structure was constructed during the early 1700s.
  • The Royal Palace of Madrid features elaborate Baroque-style architecture
  • The chief architect was Filippo Juvarra, known for his contribution to architecture in Italy, Portugal, and Spain
  • Once home to the Spanish royal family, today it is used for ceremonies organized by the state

A Detailed Look at the Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid is considered to be Spain's most significant Baroque palace. The impressive structure has long drawn in millions of visitors each year. Before your visit, brush up on essential aspects of the Madrid Palace.

royal palace of madrid history

History

Several centuries ago when the Ummayyad Empire ruled Cordoba, the Emir, Muhammad I, ordered the construction of the original Royal Palace sometime between 860 and 880. It was built on the site of an old 9th Century Moorish castle. The Moors ruled Spain for several 100 years and was often used as a defensive point of the old Arab citadel. The castle suffered severe damage during the War of the Castillian Succession.

The castle was scarcely used until the end of the 15th Century when it became one of the key fortresses in the city -- and the seat of the Royal Court after the Moors fell and Alfonso VI seized Madrid. Renovation attempts over the years went in vain when in 1734, on Christmas Eve, the old building burned down; King Phillip V then ordered the construction of today what we know as the official Royal Palace of Madrid. 

royal palace of madrid architecture

Architecture

Construction of the present Royal Palace of Madrid began in 1738 took about 18 years for completion. Covering a mammoth 1 million sq. ft. of floor area, the Royal Palace of Madrid is one of Europe's largest palaces. It also has a staggering number of rooms -- over 3,400, while the interiors are adorned with detailed decor and classic art pieces.

Heavily influenced by Italian artist Bernini and French Baroque architecture, the Palace is a treat to the eyes. Observe the rusticated stone base from which rise several ionic columns that frame the large windows. Sculptures of several members of the Royal family and historic personalities have been placed around the palace. Keep an eye out for Sabitini’s clock, the royal coat of arms, and the bells that date back several centuries. Surrounding the palace is the Plaza de la Armeria, Plaza de Oriente, Campo del Moro Gardens, and Sabatini Gardens.

what to see at royal palace of madrid

Attractions

Within the Royal Palace of Madrid lie several great treasures that are worth exploring. The most prominent one being the grand staircase back in 1789 out of a single piece of San Agustin marble; keep an eye out for the massive fresco above the staircase. 

The Royal Library boasts a vast collection of literature that has been carefully curated and maintained over the years, and the still in-use Royal Pharmacy is another point of interest. Don’t miss out on the Royal Armory, considered to be among the best in the world; on display one can find artifacts dating back to the 13th Century. 

King Charles III and the Queen’s apartments are worth a visit as well; they date back to the 18th and 19th Centuries. The first floor is also home to the Royal Chapel and the Crown Room, both of which are mandatory stops during a tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid.

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