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Royal Sites in the Madrid Region

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  • View of the Royal Palace from the Sabatini Gardens

    View of the Royal Palace from the Sabatini Gardens

  • Las Descalzas Reales Convent © Turespaña

    Las Descalzas Reales Convent © Turespaña

  • El Pardo Royal Palace

    El Pardo Royal Palace


Heritage of Kings

The Royal Sites have been the official residences and recreation places of the Spanish Royal Family since the Austrias period. Most of them are situated in the Madrid Region and some of them have the UNESCO World Heritage designation. On this route we'll have the unique chance to enjoy the artistic and historical importance of monuments, palaces and monasteries that currently belong to the National State Heritage.

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Because they close to each other, there are many different options when planning a route in this area. We'll spend the first day visiting those that can be seen on foot or public transport, without leaving the city of Madrid.
We'll start the route at the Royal Palace in Madrid. It is the official residence of the Spanish monarchs, although it is only used for State ceremonies. It was built between 1738 and 1755 and it stands out because of its decorative arts and painting. The Throne Room dates back to the period of Charles III and the Royal Armoury houses an important collection of armours dating from the 13th century onwards.

After a walk in the Moro Gardens surrounding the palace, we'll find the Monastery of Las Descalzas Reales next door. The infanta Doña Juana founded a Franciscan convent here in 1557, in the Plateresque palace belonging to her parents, Charles I and Isabella of Portugal. The Apotheosis of the Eucharist tapestries, designed by Rubens, are quite famous. Another convent nearby is the Royal Monastery of La Encarnación, with important groups of 16th and 17th century paintings and sculptures.
We'll finish our visit to the urban area going down Calle de Atocha to the Pantheon of Illustrious Men (1891-1911), a Neo-Byzantine basilica where important politicians such as Cánovas del Castillo, Sagasta, Ríos Rosas and Canalejas are buried, in tombs sculpted by artists such as Mariano Benlliure and Agustín Querol.
For the next trip we'll need a car. The Monte de El Pardo hill is north of Madrid, where we'll find El Pardo Royal Palace. Its quadrangular floor plan and towers on the angles are typical of medieval fortresses, although its current look dates from the 18th century. Inside it is decorated with tapestries by Bayeu and Goya. Other buildings, such as the Zarzuela Palace, complete this site.
About 14 kilometres away we can find the San Lorenzo de El Escorial Royal Site, a large site made up of a palace, a monastery, a museum and a library; built in 1563 onwards, commissioned by Philip II and declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is worth spending more than one day at this Herrerian monastery. Almost all the kings and queens of the Houses of Austria and Bourbon lie in the Royal Pantheon, and on the walls we'll be able to see and extremely important painting collection, with works by El Bosco, El Greco, Velázquez and Titian, amongst many other talented artists.
Finally, we'll travel to the Royal Residence of Aranjuez (about 100 kilometres from San Lorenzo de El Escorial) to visit the Royal Convent of San Pascual (1765-1770), a Neo-classical building by Francisco Sabatini with a main altar painted by Rafael Mengs. Then, after going for a nice walk in the Prince's Gardens, we'll end this route at the Royal Palace, which was initially built in 1561 but underwent subsequent extensions and renovations, especially in the Baroque period. We must pay attention to the decoration of the more than 300 rooms, especially in the Porcelain Room, and to the everyday objects in the Museum of Palace Life. The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez has also been awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO.



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