November 14, 2012

Home of Kings

I often skip museums in favor of wandering the streets and visiting cafes when I travel. I prefer to learn about the life of the city rather than see the paintings they own. However, one exception is I enjoy visiting palaces and other residences that show art and artifacts in their original settings not randomly displayed in cases.

The Palace Gates
So, when we were in Madrid we visited Palacio Real de Madrid. The building itself is impressive on its own - a large, majestic, white palace built in the 1700s when the King of Spain moved the county's capital from Toledo to Madrid to be closer to the center of his kingdom. It is still the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family today, however it is currently only used for state ceremonies. There are over 3000 rooms in this palace and several of theses rooms are open for the public to tour. In addition, the public an visit the Royal Pharmacy, see the Royal Armory, and explore the palace grounds.

Inside the Palace Grounds
After getting our tickets, we entered the palace grounds and walked walked around the large paved area in front of the main entrance. The stones in this vast area were worn from centuries of use, but still serve their purpose today. It was great to see people from all over the world enjoying this space - walking around, taking photographs, and admiring the architecture.

Inside the palace we walked up the broad stone entry staircase, observing the well worn tracks where people have stepped repeatedly over the last 300 years. From there we walked through multiple elaborately decorated rooms - dining rooms, the former King's living quarters, the throne room, the living quarters of other family members of the former King, and the royal chapel. Each room was decorated in different colors - rich blues, greens, reds, and yellows. The walls were covered with ornate cloth and many of the ceilings were decorated with intricate paintings. (Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the palace.)

After touring the inside of the palace we visited the palace pharmacy (filled with old jars and potions), and went to the armory.

After spending three hours exploring the vast palace it was time to move on to my other passion - food. As the sun was setting, we headed to Mercado de San Miguel for some (more) olives and vermouth before dinner...

Olives and Vermouth

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