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December 22, 2018

Spain: Madrid, Palacio Real

Palacio Real de Madrid

Built at the site of a 9th-century Moorish fortress, an Alcázar, the Royal Palace of Madrid or Palacio Real de Madrid is said to be the largest functioning royal palace in Europe by floor area. The palace has 1,450,000 sq ft of floor space and 3,418 rooms. It makes Versailles’s mere 721,182 sq ft and 700 rooms seem like an economy château by comparison.

After fire destroyed the Alcáza King Felipe V ordered in 1734 a new neo-classical palace to be constructed at the site. Felipe was born at the Palace of Versailles in 1683; he was the first member of the French House of Bourbon to rule as king of Spain. Felipe V seems to have brought the Bourbon monarchy’s penchant for large over-the-top palaces to Spain.

An arcade outside the Royal Palace of Madrid

Almudena Cathedral is across the plaza from Madrid’s royal palace,

The Royal Palace of Madrid is located in the western portion of Madrid. To the east of the palace are the palace gardens and the Manzanares River. To the south is the Plaza de la Armeria, which serves today as the main tourist entrance. Across the plaza is the Almudena Cathedral, Madrid’s central church. The size and scale of both the cathedral and the palace project power and importance.

Inside and out is Palacio Real de Madrid is grand and ornate. There’s numerous famous works of art and an impressive armory to see. You’ll have to take my word about the inside: Picture taking on the inside of the palace was forbidden.

Given the size and the family connections comparisons between Palacio Real de Madrid and Versailles are inevitable. I’ll venture an opinion on this and say that though the Royal Palace of Madrid is much larger than Versailles, Versailles is more opulent. Not that Versailles’ opulence served the House of Bourbon well in the end….


We visited Palacio Real de Madrid in November of 2017.

The Royal Palace of Madrid in full sunlight

And at dusk

1 Comment »

  1. […] Almudena Cathedral is located across the Plaza de la Armería from the Palacio Real de Madrid, Madrid’s royal palace. It seems the perfect location for a cathedral. It is easy to assume this […]

    Pingback by Spain: Madrid, Almudena Cathedral | Another Header — December 22, 2018 @ 5:38 am

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