Madrid: Palacio Real

“Long before Madrid became the capital of Spain, Emir Mohamed I chose Magerit (the city’s Arabic name) as the site for a fortress to protect Toledo from the advancing Christians. The building was eventually used by the Kings of Castile until finally becoming what would be known as the Antiguo Alcázar (Old Fortress) in the 14th century. Carlos I and his son Felipe II turned the building into a permanent residence for the Spanish royal family. However, in 1734 a fire burnt the Palace of Los Austrias to the ground, and Felipe V ordered the construction of the palace that stands today.”


Madrid becomes the capital of Espana in 1561. This location was the center of civic and religious government for Florida until 1821. It continued to be the capital of much of what is today Latin America until the wars of independence.

Felipe V was monarch from 1700-1746. He was the grandson of Louis XIV. He was born in Versailles and was the first French Bourbon king of Spain, the family which still rules to this day. He intended to build a type of Versailles in Madrid.

Carlos III was the son of Felipe V. He ruled Spain from 1759 to 1788. Before becoming King of Spain, Carlos III lived in Italy for 19 years.

The French and Italian influence on Spanish culture and specifically the Palacio Real is readily apparent. The architects and artists are all Italian. The plans were based on Bernini’s design for Versailles by Filippo Juvarra and Giovanni Battista Sacchetti in cooperation with Ventura Rodríguez, Francesco Sabatini, and Martín Sarmiento. King Carlos III first occupied the new palace in 1764.

Sculptures of the Kings of Spain, including Aztec ruler Moctezuma II and the Inca emperor Atahualpa.

A popular legend described in “Hidden Madrid” describes the fate of the architect of the Palacio Real. The King asks the architect if he thought he could ever design another palace as beautiful as this one. Eager for another commission, the architect responds in the affirmative that of course he could surpass the excellence and beauty of the Palacio Real.

“The monarch, furious at the reply, was not inclined to run the risk of having some other king posses a residence which would rival or even eclipse his own. Thus he immediately had the proud architect led off to a dungeon. There his henchmen ripped out the architect’s eyes, thus preventing him from ever again building another palace, and cut out his tongue so that he could not share his knowledge with others, and finally severed both his arms from his body so that he could never again make any sketches.” (Hidden Madrid)


Grand Staircase

Guard Room

Rooms of Carlos III

Gasparini Room

Queen’s Apartment or Banquet Hall

Carlos III Bedroom: 

Throne Room: 

John William Bailly 25 April 2022

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