The Royal Palace, -Palacio Real- (also known as Palacio de Oriente) is no longer used as the royal residence, but has been kept intact since it last functioned as home to the king Alfonso XIII in 1931. Today it primarily serves as a tourist attraction. The entire palace is not open to the public, but most of the more important rooms can be visited. The palace is interesting in its own right, in particular its architecture and gardens: the Jardines del Moro and the Jardines de Sabattini. Inside the Palace there are excellent paintings and frescos by Velázquez, Tiépolo, Goya, Rubens, El Greco, Juan de Flandes and Caravaggio, among others.
Every Wednesday at 12.00 the Royal Guards riding horses and in their ceremony uniforms perform the Guards change at the stunning courtyard of the Puerta del Principe in the Royal Palace. On the first Wednesday of every month there is a solemn Guards change with 400 men and 100 horses that lasts 40 minutes.
The Royal Palace is on Calle Bailén, and from this street you can reach the Viaducto de Segovia, which suspends Bailén street high over calle Segovia and makes it easy to go the beautiful baroque Iglesia de San Francisco el Grande on the other side. The viaduct is one of the city´s recognisable landmarks, unfortunately, it is one of the places most frequently chosen for acts of suicide, and the raising of security screens has dampened the superb views over Madrid´s rooftops that it used to have.
From here, head up Carrera de San Francisco. Above lies the most happening part of Hapsburg Madrid, La Latina.
Sabatini Gardens, Facing the northern facade of the Royal Palace, the gardens owe their name to the old royal stable buildings built by Francisco Sabatini and which once occupied this area. Designed as geometrical French-style garden, its exceptional location makes it one of the most pleasant gardens in Habsburg-era Madrid.
After entering the gardens, one of the best places from which to see the sunset is in the large rectangular pool in the middle of the gardens, surrounded by geometrically laid out shrubs hiding the occasional fountain, and surrounded by trees and white marble sculptures. Whether stretched out in the grass or sitting on a bench, the visitor can watch the changing yellow and rose-coloured tones light up the greyish walls of the Palace.
Madrid Royal Palace - Palacio Real
calle Bailén - Plaza de Oriente
Metro: Plaza de España, Opera
More information in our page in culture section: Other Museums in Madrid
The Teatro Real is Madrid's Opera House. Since its total refurbishment in 1997, it has become one of the unavoidable venues in the international opera circuit. Madrid is also the main centre for a genre as genuine and "castizo", that is to say, local to Madrid, as the zarzuela musical operetta. This type of musical includes popular plots and is characterised by its direct connection to simple country folk. Iit is well worth enjoying one of these shows, and so much the better if it's summer, when you can do so in an open-air theatre. Behind the Teatro Real is the elegant Plaza de Oriente, an esplanade which gives access to the Palacio Real, the Spanish Monarch's Royal Palace, Google location map.
Plaza de Oriente
www: Teatro Real de Madrid