The official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is now reserved for official state occasions allowing the public to marvel in its splendour all year round.
The Royal Palace of Madrid sits on the site of a 9th century Alcázar – Muslim-era fortress – which was destroyed by fire in 1734. The current building, completed in 1755, is a huge and magnificent palace that rivals the best in Europe. It was occupied by Spanish Kings until the abolition of the monarchy in 1931.
Since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975, the Spanish Royal Family has resided in the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid and so, outside of state occasions, the Royal Palace is open to allow the public to marvel in its splendour.
Outside the main façade of the palace is the Plaza de la Armeria where you first get a sense of the scale of the building. The magnificent stone architecture, with Ionic columns, cornices and balustrade, creates an imposing vista around three sides of the square. Across from the palace, completing the square, sits the neo-classical Almuneda Cathedral.
Outside the East façade is the Plaza de Oriente, a large rectangular park connecting the palace to the Teatro Real. It consists mainly of three different gardens and contains statues of the Gothic Kings of Spain.
To the West of the Palace, the huge Campo del Moro gardens offer a fantastic view of the West façade of the palace. Finally, to the North, the Sabatini Gardens, with its statues and fountains, offers a stunning vista of the North façade.
Inside the Royal Palace
With over 2,000 rooms, there’s no shortage of things to see inside the palace. Highlights on the ground floor include the grand staircase made from a single piece of marble, the Royal Library, the Royal Pharmacy and the Royal Armory.
Up on the first floor you can view Charles III’s apartments, the Queen’s apartments and banqueting hall, the Royal Chapel and the Crown Room. The interior is richly decorated with marble and mahogany throughout. The Palace holds many important works of art and frescoes from leading Spanish artists.
Entrance to the Palace costs €11 and children under 5 go free. The Palace also opens for free on International Museum Day and is free to visit for EU residents for the last two hours of the day (4-6pm in Winter and 6-8pm in summer) but without a guided tour. There is a smartphone app to allow you to guide yourself.
(Prices correct at time of writing. As always, check the official website for up to date information)
October to March: 10:00 – 18:00
April to September: 10:00 – 20:00
Box office and admission to the Palace close one hour earlier.
The Royal Palace is open most days of the year except Christmas and New Year and the 1st of May. It also operates limited hours on October 12th (Spain’s National Day). Beyond that it closes for grand occasions of state such as visits by foreign dignitaries so it’s best to check ahead to make sure it’s open.