Royal Palace from the Plaza de Oriente

The Royal Palace belongs to National Trust and, although it is still the official residence of the kings, they do not live here and the palace can be visited.

Its location is exceptional, the valley of the Manzanares and the Campo del Moro to the West, the Plaza de Oriente to the East, the Sabatini Gardens to the North and the main entrance is facing south, facing the Almudena Cathedral. It is here where the Solemn Changing of the Royal Guard takes place.

Relevo de la Guardia Real en el Palacio Real

History of the Royal Palace

Madrid’s history is closely related with this place, where in the ninth century Mahomet I, Emir of Cordoba, founded an Arab fortress. This citadel was a part of some defensive fortifications, at that time Madrid had no more importance than being on the way towards Toledo, the capital of the Visigoth Kingdom.

After the Christian conquest the Trastámaras and Charles V made some modifications in the Arab fortress, turning it into an imperial palace to serve as a residence. All the Habsburgs used this palace, including Philip II, who made Madrid the capital of Spain, and his grandson Philip IV, who decided to complement the palace with a second one, The Retiro Palace.

After Charles II’s death in 1700, Philip V arrived in Spain and he was the first of the Bourbon dynasty. He didn’t like this palace, which was much more austere than French palaces of the time. It turned out that under his reign, on Christmas Eve in 1734, a fire broke out and destroyed the ancient fortress.

In this, Philip V saw an opportunity to build a Royal Palace that was more to his liking, and he ordered the architect Juan Bautista Sacchetti to build a new Palace, in a Baroque style. The works were completed under Carlos III’s reign and his architect Francisco Sabatini, adding a touch of neoclassical style.

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