Madrid-Sunday at the Palace 12/7/14

We toured Palacio Real de Madrid (the Royal Palace of Madrid) – nearly 1.5 million sq ft of floor space (largest in Europe), and with over 3,000 rooms. The tour includes about 20 rooms. The line is long, but our Madrid Pass got us in faster.

This palace, built on the site of one that burned down in 1734, was build by Philip V, grandson of France’s Louis XIV. Philip grew up in Versailles, and wanted a similar palace. Added to by his son Charles III, who spent his early years in Italy, the palace is a mix of French and Italian luxury and art. The rooms are sumptuous, massive, with thousands of chandeliers. Nearly every inch of ceiling space is painted with frescoes/murals from mythology, history of the royal families, and surrounded by elaborately carved crown moldings – with life-size figures. Walls are covered with massive paintings by masters including Caravaggio, Bosch, Velazquez and Goya. Gold and silver everywhere. Marble, tapestries, porcelain.

You walk up a grand stairway, decorated ostentatiously, so visitors to the King would be duly impressed. Room after room – guard room, hall of columns, and the Gasparini room which is all gold, green, pink, with marble floors, silk embroidered walls, and sculptures of Chinese figures in the corners of the ceilings. The Porcelain room is small but covered in green leafy porcelain all over the walls and ceiling, a Stradivarius Room with 2 violins, a viola, and a cello. The Grand Dining Room can seat 144 for a state dinner. The Throne Room is red and gold. The walls between rooms seem about 3-feet thick, but they’re actually hollow passageways for servants to unobtrusively run about their tasks. They have their own Chapel, complete with the preserved remains of St. Felix in a glass coffin. And the Armory showcases armor and weaponry for men and horses.

As Mel Brooks said, it’s good to be the King.

Outside the Palace, the lines were still long, and crowds were all over. We even saw and heard a Christian sing-along worship/praise-fest, then walked around Orient Plaza (east of Palace, hence “orient”) on our way to the Metro.

note: since photos are not allowed in the rooms, the ones included here, marked “web,” I found online.

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