Palacio Real de Madrid

The Royal Palace in Madrid goes by two names, Palacio Real de Madrid and Palacio de Oriente (East Palace).

It is one of the largest palaces in the world (there are over 250 guest bedrooms!) but is unoccupied by Spain’s royal family–they stay at the Palacio de la Zarzuela in another royal compound. It’s good to be king here, too. The Royal Palace is open to the public when it is not in use for state ceremonies.

I wish interior photography were allowed so I could show you how ornate and large the rooms are. OK…one tiny spy pic:

There are colored themes to each room, one after another filled with works of art by Goya, Velázquez, Caravaggio, and other masters. There is even a chrysanthemum yellow room with the most amazing Chinese ceramics embedded into the wallpaper! I also enjoy the cavernous room serving as the royal armory with an excellent exhibit of medieval armors (I love gauntlets and bascinets as they inspire some of my jewelry designs). There are life-sized reproductions of knights and horses in full armor. Just fantastic!

Below the palace to the west and the north there are manicured gardens, and in my pictures below you can see rain and snow:

It’s a nice walk all around the palace grounds, but perhaps better on a clearer day:

From the palace I pass by the Senado (Senate) that has some nice real estate nearby,

Then from here I make my way to the Prado Museum, which has one of the best art collections in the world. The museum was recently expanded to accommodate its treasures. It is here that I finally get to see the famous painting, Las Meninas, by Diego Velázquez. It is a fascinating, complex work of art in which the viewers have to ask whether they are looking at a painting or whether they are the ones being watched? The composition and depth of this painting are stuff that elicited long conversations in my art history classes so long ago. It is a real treat to finally see this painting (among countless other works here that I’d also studied) with my own two eyes, all these years later. Of course photography is not allowed inside the Prado, but they have these machines around the various galleries where, for one euro each, you could buy miniature books–in Spanish, English, French or Japanese–about the art and artists you’ve just viewed. And yup, I’m walking around collecting these books like a good little sucker tourist that I am!

Up on the hill behind the Prado, which means meadow btw, is a church that seems to glow in the night:

The rain has finally died down. I have great hopes for tomorrow’s day trip.


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