ROYAL PALACE, EXTERIOR

Audio File length: 2.22
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm James, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the Royal Palace, which is one of the most fabled places in Madrid.

You should know that long ago in the Muslim era, the mighty castle Alcázar stood tall in the northwestern part of the city's historical center. It was modified and expanded several times until a fire destroyed what remained of the ancient Arab fortress in 1734. Philip V then decided to rebuild a new Royal Palace from its foundations, while keeping the square shape of the building. The king favored the current French style so much that he indicated the Parisian Louvre building as the Palace's model, and brought architect Filippo Juvarra in from Italy who had created the Savoys' splendid late baroque residences in Turin. Many of the artists involved in the halls' decoration were Italian.

The architect designed a grandiose building and was present for the start of its construction, but died of pneumonia after only a year, and so the work was completed by his Spanish colleague who gave the building a more sober look, in line with the rising neoclassical taste. When the building was inaugurated by Charles III of Bourbon in 1764, Giambattista Tiepolo's frescoes that you'll see on your tour were brightly shining.

Since then there have been few changes: this colossal, square-shaped eighteenth-century palace contains an amazing 3,418 rooms over a total 135,000 square meters, and is the largest royal palace in Western Europe, bigger than both Versailles and Buckingham Palace. But don't worry: you can "only" visit about forty rooms...

You'll go inside from the main façade, which is adorned by a beautiful balcony, supported by huge pillars, and faces the Armory Square. The square is enclosed by fences and has two rows of symmetrical arcades: it's like a large courtyard that precedes this huge mountain of a palace. Are you ready for the tour? See you inside!

 

FUN FACT: even today the palace is still the King of Spain's formal residence, but he only uses it for receptions or State events. The royal family lives in Zarzuela Palace, which is much more modest.

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