North facade of the Palace, with dome of the Royal Chapel from the Sabatini Gardens.
The Royal Palace is on the site where once stood the Alcazar of Madrid, the “famous castle” built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of Mohammed I, Emir of Cordoba, as a key position for the defense of these territories situated to the north of Toledo.
The fortress, rebuilt in the 14th century, acquired the character of a royal residence with the work undertaken by John II, particularly the chapel consecrated in 1434, and the great “rich hall”. It was in the 16th century that Charles V and Philip II rebuilt it as a Royal Palace, so that in 1561 the Alcazar became the permanent residence of the Kings, and the “villa” or town of Madrid which arose under the protection of its castle became the Court of the Spanish Monarchy. Under Philip IV, the Palace attained its most characteristic form: on the exterior, with the long facade designed by Francisco and Juan Gomez de Mora and G. B. Crescenci; on the interior, with the participation of Diego Velazquez as interior-design architect and with the display of masterpieces which today are the pride of the Prado Museum. Philip V also left his mark on the Alcazar before the greatest and best part of its structure disappeared in a fire on the Christmas Eve of 1734.
The location of the Alcazar and its ground plan, conceived around the buildings containing the living quarters, in such a way conditioned the shape of the New Royal Palace and its setting that we could almost claim that it is still present today, despite the disappearance of all visible remains in the area.
The Royal Seats
The fact that Madrid, and more accurately the Alcazar or Royal Palace, was the seat of power, did not mean that the King lived only in this Palace. The game reserves near Madrid used by the Trastamara dynasty (El Pardo, Valsain), the domain of Aranjuez incorporated into the Crown by the Catholic Monarchs, the Monastery of El Escorial founded by Philip II, and other possessions also created by the latter Monarch (especially the neighboring Casa de Campo, on the other side of the Manzanares), constituted a system of “Royal Seats” defined at the time when the capital was established here. During the following three centuries it was extended and improved with new Royal Seats, such as the Buen Retiro and La Granja de San Ildefonso, creations of Philip IV and Philip V respectively. The use of these residences was seasonal, according to their nature and characteristics: springtime was spent at Aranjuez, summer at Valsain (from the time of Philip V at the nearby La Granja), autumn at El Escorial… The Monarchs stayed in Madrid from the end of October until Holy Week, but with prolonged stays at the winter hunting lodge of El Pardo. Philip V, and particularly Charles III, took this systematic absence from the capital to its ultimate consequences. This system did not always function in a strict manner, but though it was subject to exceptions, novelties and changes imposed by the preference of each Monarch.
The Royal Palace North West angle
The Main Staricase built by Sacheti.
Saleta of Charles III. This was the room where the king used to take his luncheon and where ordinary audiences were granted.
The Throne room. The largest and most magnificent room in the Palace due to the superb mirrors and the rich furnishings with which it is decorated. Tiepolo had a great deal of imagination and painted with both warmth and ease..
Jennifer, 21, from Texas, wrote:
I was in Spain this past March, and we were given a tour of the Royal Palace. It was incredible! I really think a picture of it at night should be put on the site, cause it's really pretty when it's all lit up. The Cathedral across the courtyard from the palace is incredible too.