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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

One of the World's Largest Palaces
17 November 2015 @ 18:02

The Palacio Real or Royal Palace is one of the largest and certainly one of the most impressive palaces in the world. Only a few select 'royal' residencies are bigger: The Louvre Palace in Paris is the biggest, followed by the Sultan of Brunei's palace, the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, the Forbidden City in China and then the Royal Palace of Madrid. So it is not just another palace and is well worth a  visit when in Madrid.
 It has more than 2000 luxuriously decorated rooms, 50 of which can be visited. It is located on the east of Madrid's historic center, within walking distance of the Plaza de España and I was fortunate enough to live very near by for a couple of years and it is an exceptional building. 
The History behind the palace really began soon after the Royal Fortress burned down on Christmas Eve of 1734, King Philips V wanted to replace the fortress with a palace, this time built from limestone and granite to make it fireproof. It was to be modeled loosely on the Versailles Palace near Paris, where Philips V had spent part of his youth.
Construction of the new palace started in 1738 based on a design by the Italian architect Juan Bautista Sachetti. 26 Years and three kings later, the huge palace, covering an area of 135,000m2, was completed. It would take another 100 years before all the rooms were decorated.
As a visitors you enter the Palace via the large Plaza de la Armería. Some of the sumptuous rooms accessible to visitors are the 400m2 large dining room, the Sala de Porcelana (china room) and the Salón del Trono (throne room) with red velvet walls.
The west wing of the palace is home to the Arméria Real, the Royal Armour museum. It contains a beautiful collection of armour, including King Charles V's suit of armour.
King Carlos III, son of King Philips V moved into the new palace in 1764. The Palacio Real would be the main residence of the Spanish kings until 1931, when king Alfonso XIII went into exile after the republicans had won the elections and demanded him to step down.
Today the Royal Family lives in the small Zarzuela Palace, a former hunting lodge outside Madrid, however The Royal Palace is still used for official ceremonies and receptions.
The Palace is bordered on the east by the Campo del Moro, a large park that goes uphill from the Rio Manzanares to the Royal Palace. From the green lawn in front of the park, you have a nice unobstructed view of the palace.
In front of the Palace is the Plaza de Oriente, a beautiful square with an equestrian statue of Philips IV. The Royal Palace originally bore the same name as the square, Palacio Oriente, or East Palace.
Statues of kings and queens are all over the square. The intention was to put these statues on top of the palace but they were deemed too heavy, so they were placed on the square in front of the palace instead.

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