The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. King Philip VI and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palace of Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.
The palace is located on the Bailén Street (“Bailén Street”) in the western part of downtown Madrid, east of the Manzanares River, and is accessible from the Opera metro station. Several rooms in the palace are regularly open to the public except during state functions. An admission fee of € 11 is required. Some days it is free.
The palace is located on the site of the 9th-century Alcázar (“Muslim-era fortress”), near the town of Magerit, constructed as an outpost by Muhammad I of Córdoba: 7 and inherited after 1036 by the independent Moorish Taifa of Toledo . After Madrid fell to King Alfonso VI of Castile in 1083, the edifice was only rarely used by the kings of Castile. In 1329, King Alfonso XI of Castile convened the courts of Madrid for the first time. King Philip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561.
The old Alcazar was built on the 16th century. After it burned 24 December 1734, King Philip ordered the new palace built on the same site. Construction spanned the years 1738 to 1755 and followed by Berniniesque design by Filippo Juvarra and Giovanni Battista Sacchetti in cooperation with Ventura Rodríguez, Francesco Sabatini, and Martín Sarmiento. King Carlos III first occupied the new palace in 1764.
The last monarch who lived continuously in the palace was King Alfonso XIII, although Manuel Azaña, president of the Second Republic, also inhabited it, making him the last head of state to the so. During that period the palace was known as “National Palace”. There is still room next to the Royal Chapel, which is known by the name “Office of Azaña”.
The palace has 135,000 square meters (1,450,000 sq ft) of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area. The interior of the palace is notable for its wealth of art and the use of many types of fine materials in the construction and the decoration of its rooms. These include paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Francisco de Goya, and Velázquez, and frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Juan de Flandes, Corrado Giaquinto, and Anton Raphael Mengs. Other collections of great historical and artistic importance preserved in the building include the Royal Armory of Madrid, porcelain, watches, furniture, silverware, and the world’s only complete Stradivarius string quintet.
Muhammad I, Umayyad Emir of Cordoba, between 860 and 880. After the Moors were driven out of Toledo in the 11th century, the castle retained its defensive function. Henry III of Castile added several towers. His son John II used it as a royal residence.
However, during the War of the Castilian Succession (1476) the troops of Joanna the Beltraneja were besieged in the Alcázar, causing serious damage to the royal building.
The only drawing of the castle from the Middle Ages is one made in 1534 by Cornelius Vermeyen.
Emperor Charles V extended and renovated the castle in 1537, using the architects Alonso de Covarrubias and Luis de Vega. Philip II made Madrid his capital in 1561 and added a continued the renovations. Philip III added a long southern facade between 1610 and 1636. Philip V of Bourbon renovated the royal apartments in 1700.
The Alcázar of the Habsburgs was austere in comparison to the Palace of Versailles where the new king spent his childhood and he began to series redesigns led by Teodoro Ardemans and René Carlier. On the other hand, the main rooms were redecorated in the style of French palaces by the Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy and the Princess of Ursins.
On Christmas Eve 1734, the Alcazar was destroyed by fire in the rooms of the French painter Jean Ranc. It was not detected quickly, due to the warning bells being confused with the call to mass. For fear of looting, the doors of the building remained closed, hampering rescue efforts. Many works of art were lost, such as the Expulsion of the Moors, by Diego Velázquez. Others, such as Las Meninas, were rescued by tossing them out the windows. Fortunately, many pieces were saved because the king ordered that much of his collection moved to the Buen Retiro Palace shortly before the blaze. This fire lasted four days and completely destroyed the old Alcazar, whose last walls were finally demolished in 1738.
Filippo Juvarra oversaw work on the new palace. The Italian architect devised a lavish project of enormous proportions inspired by Bernini’s plans for Versailles. This plan was not realized due to Juvarra’s untimely death in March 1736. His disciple, Giambattista Sacchetti also known as Juan Bautista Sacchetti or Giovanni Battista Sacchetti, was chosen to continue the work of his mentor. I have designed the structure around a large square courtyard and solved the sightline problems by creating projecting wings.
In 1760, Charles III called upon Sicilian Francesco Sabatini, a Neoclassical architect to enlarge the building. The original idea was to frame the Square of the Armory with a series of galleries and arcades which would accommodate the various dependencies and the construction of two wings around the same square. Only the extension of the southeast tower known as that of San Gil was completed. Sabatini also planned to extend the north side with a large facade that echoed the style of the building and included three square courtyards in size somewhat smaller than the large central courtyard. Work on this expansion started quickly but was soon interrupted, leaving the foundations buried under a platform on which the royal stables were later built. These were demolished in the 20th century and replaced by the Sabatini Gardens. Charles III first occupied the palace in 1764.
Ferdinand VII, who spent many years imprisoned in the Château de Valençay, began the most thorough renovation of the palace in the 19th century. The aim of this redesign was to turn the old-fashioned Italian style building into a modern French-style palace. However, his grandson Alfonso XII proposed to turn the palace into a Victorian style residence. The plans were designed by the architect Jose Segundo de Lema and consisted of remodeling several rooms, replacing marble floors with parquet and the adding of period furniture.
The restorations made during the twentieth century repaired damages during the Civil Wars in Spain by repairing or reinstalling decoration and decorative trim, replacing damaged walls with faithful reproductions of the original.