The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the most important monuments you must see on a trip to Madrid, Spain.
You should not only contemplate its exterior during your walk through the “Plaza de Oriente” but also visit the interior of the Royal Palace.
Some Facts About The Royal Palace of Madrid
- It is the largest in Western Europe by its dimensions, 135,000 square meters.
- In its interior, there are almost 3,500 halls and rooms.
- It is still used by the Spanish Monarchy for numerous ceremonies and official acts, although you should know that the current Monarchy has never lived in the stately building.
- Neither the actual King of Spain, King Felipe VI, his father, Juan Carlos I, nor the Spanish Royal Family have an official residence in this palace, having their home in the Zarzuela Palace, on Monte del Pardo.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is not a very old building.
Its construction began in 1738 to replace the old building, which caught fire on Christmas Eve in 1734; the flames did not go out until four days later, almost destroying it.
Its origins go back to a fortress built and previously occupied by the Arabs in the 9th century, known as the Alcázar.
After the conquest of Madrid by King Alfonso VI in 1085, the old Alcazar became the royal residence of the different kings.
Over the years, the old Arab fortress of Madrid became the seat of the Imperial Court, and in 1561 Philip II decided that Madrid would be the Empire’s Capital.
For the construction of the new Palace, Philip V, who reigned when the old Alcázar de Los Austrias was destroyed in 1734, finally opted for the Italian architect Juan Bautista Sachetti.
However, from 1760, when Charles III became the new King of Spain, the construction was assumed by Francesco Sabatini, who also expanded the initial project.
The Royal Palace of Madrid began to be inhabited by Charles III in 1764.
Later in the twentieth century, it became the residence of successive Spanish kings until Alfonso XIII, in 1931, left Spain before the arrival of the Second Republic.
Visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid
During your visit to the Royal Palace, in addition to visiting the Official Main Rooms, you have the option of being able to see other dependencies, such as the Royal Kitchen.
Still, don’t forget to go into the Royal Armory; there, you will find one of the world’s most important medieval armor collections, only comparable to another set that you may see in Vienna, Austria.
Here are some practical tips for visiting the Royal Palace in Madrid.
The best day to visit is Wednesday.
In addition to making the interior visit and walking through its rooms and exhibitions, you will have an excellent opportunity to watch the “Changing of the Guard Ceremony.”
This exciting event occurs at the door of the palace, in the Plaza de Oriente, every Wednesday morning in July and August from 11:00 to 14:00.
Check out when is The Best Time to Go to Madrid.
Solemn Relay of the Royal Guard
Suppose your stay in Madrid overlaps with the first Wednesday of the month (except in July, August, and September). In that case, you will have the opportunity to attend a grand ceremony in the Royal Palace: The Solemn Relay of the Royal Guard.
The Solemn Relay of the Royal Guard is an excellent Changing of the Guard parade that takes place in the Plaza de la Armeria, in which more than 450 soldiers of the Royal Guard participate, with cavalry and artillery units. It starts at noon and lasts about two hours, but it’s worth it.
Visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid on Monday
You should know that Madrid’s Royal Palace is one of the monuments in the city that opens to the public on Monday, which is the usual closing day for other institutions and museums in the city.
Of course, you should anticipate that this is why queues tend to form at the ticket offices as tourists gather on that day of the week to visit the palace.
Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid for free.
If you want to visit Madrid’s Royal Palace for free, you should go from Monday to Thursday afternoon, specifically, between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., from April to September, and between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., from October to March.
Skip-the-line guided tours.
For your visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid, you can get a guided tour in Spanish, which will also avoid waiting for the queues that usually form, especially during times of the high season. In an hour and a half, you will not have to worry about getting the tickets, and you will visit with the company of a specialized English-speaking guide.
Royal Armoury and the Official Rooms
In the Royal Palace of Madrid, you also have the possibility of visiting other rooms that are worthwhile. Specifically, you can see the Royal Armoury and the Royal Kitchen (in the latter case, you must buy a joint ticket).
Even if you are in a hurry, I recommend that you don’t miss seeing the Armoury, where you will find the most important collection of medieval armor in the world (along with the one in Vienna). This visit will take you about 30 minutes.
Gardens of the Royal Palace of Madrid
And finally, if your visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid coincides with a pleasant day and you have time, a good option is to walk through the gardens surrounding the monument, such as the Sabatini Gardens and Campo del Moro Gardens, whose access is complimentary.
The Royal Palace of Madrid – Visiting Hours
The visiting hours are every day of the week, including Sundays and holidays.
- April to September – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- October to March – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The ticket offices close one hour before the time of the last visit.
When is the Royal Palace closed to visitors?
The Royal Palace of Madrid is a monument that people can visit almost every day of the year. It only closes on the most significant Christmas holidays, December 24 and 25, and January 1 and 6, as well as during other main festivals of the city, such as May 1 and October 12 (national holiday) and May 15 and November 9 (local holidays).
It would be best to remember that you can’t visit when any official celebrations occur.
If you have doubts, it is convenient to confirm that it is not closed by any official act during the desired day of your visit.
The general ticket price to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid is 13 euros if there is an exhibition and 12 euros when there is none.
I highly recommend buying the tickets online well in advance of your visit.
The reduced rate is 7 euros with an exhibition and 6 euros without it, and children between 5 and 16 years of age benefit from it; students up to 25 years old; seniors +65 from countries of the European Union and Latin America; or the members of large families.
What will you see during your visit?
To start your visit, you will enter the Royal Palace through the Plaza de la Armeria, the entrance of the Almudena Cathedral, where the ticket offices are.
Inside the palace, you will visit the 18 chambers open to the public on the building’s first floor.
Once you enter the grand building of the Royal Palace, the first landmark of your visit will be the spectacular main staircase of the imperial type.
Designed by Sabatini, it has two levels, and on the central landing, there is a large sculpture of King Charles III made of Carrara marble.
The 72 steps of the grand staircase contain five-meter blocks of Spanish marble from Toledo.
On the railing are the lions representing power.
The first room you will find is the Halberdiers, where the soldiers of the Royal Guard stay during official receptions.
Its vault was initially painted in the 18th century by Tiepolo.
The Throne Room
You will visit two of the most outstanding Official Rooms of the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Hall of Columns and the Throne Room, the latter, the place where the kings hold receptions.
The next room, the Antechamber of Carlos III, is the first room in the neoclassical style, and in it, there are four paintings by Goya with portraits of Charles IV and Queen Maria Luisa of Parma stand out.
You can also see some of the 600 watches from the Charles IV collection kept in the palace.
The Gasparini Room
After going through the Gasparini Room, perhaps the room with the most spectacular decoration in the entire Royal Palace, you enter the private lounges area.
The so-called Carlos III Room is dedicated to the King’s Military and religious order.
Decorated all in blue, it was once the king’s bedroom.
Gala Dining Room.
And after passing through the Yellow Saleta, so named because of the yellow silk covering its walls, you will arrive at the impressive Gala Dining Room of the Royal Palace, which today continues to serve as a dining room and ballroom.
Next to the Gala Dining Room is the Hall of Mirrors, where Alfonso XIII and his family gathered on Sunday afternoons to watch movies.
Today, it is also called the Hall of the Band, the place for the Royal Orchestra to entertain the sumptuous state banquets.
In its center, the central mahogany and bronze pedestal from 1788 stand out.
Exhibition Rooms and Royal Chapel
The following two are exhibition rooms, the Silver Room, where you will see silver tableware from the 17th and 19th centuries, and the Tableware and Glassware Room, with an exhibition of porcelain and glass tableware used daily by the kings.
After exiting the interior gallery on the first floor, you reach the Royal Chapel, another of the highlights of the Royal Palace.
And then, you will access another room where you will find another of the artistic jewels of the palace, the Stradivarius Palatinos quarters, considered the most important complex in the world.
Finally, you will visit some small spaces that were widely used in his day by King Alfonso XII (Billiard Room, Smoke Room, Stucco Room, and the office with the marquetry furniture of King Charles III).
From there, you arrive again at the other wing of the main staircase, where you will descend towards the Plaza de lai.
There you can complete the tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid with a visit to the Armoury, or outside the building, you can stroll through the Moro or Sabatini gardens, which surround the palace.
In total, the entire visit to the interior of the Royal Palace of Madrid can take you between an hour to an hour and a half.