Categories: MadridSpain

Visiting the Madrid Royal Palace (Palacio Real)

Madrid Royal Palace, considered by many one of the finest palaces in Europe, was built between 1738 – 1735 as the official royal residence.

The palace is a must-see on every visitor’s list when coming to the capital of Spain.

I was very excited to tick this one off my list, but it ended up being a bit of a disappointment.

While I was researching information about the palace I was surprised that you can’t find almost any photographs from inside, apart from the official website – and that’s for the obvious reason: photography is not allowed.

It’s something I only discovered inside as it’s not mentioned on any of the official information available and was a huge disappointment.

I also felt like the palace rooms were quite spectacular, but once you’ve seen a few, it felt like you’ve seen them all.

But let’s dive in so I can show you around the areas that could be photographed and how to get the most out of your visit.

Practical Tips for Visit of Madrid Royal Palace

As with any other major tourist attraction in the city, it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance. In the summer, there can be quite a bit of wait time if you’re buying the tickets on the spot.

The ticket office and entrance to Madrid Royal Palace is through a small gate on the right side of the building. As you go in, you will go through a quick security check and scan and there are locker rooms provided for storing your backpack or bigger bags.

If you want to see the change of royal guards, this happens every Wednesday and Saturday between 11 am and 2 pm, with the schedule adjusted for the summer period from 1 July to the end of August to 10 am to noon.

Solemn changing of guards has been cancelled due to pandemics, but you can see a video of what it’s like on their website.

For instructions on how to get to Palacio Real please check the bottom of the article which lists all travel connections.

Before you head inside the palace, it’s well worth taking a look inside the cathedral that stands next to it – photos follow below.

Right between the Palace and the cathedral is a new Mirador de la Cornisa, offering beautiful views of Campo del Morro Gardens and Casa del Campo park.

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena

The cathedral stands in a place of a former mosque, directly opposite the palace.

The first building works started in 1879, but finished only in 1993, after which it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

The marriage of the crown prince Felipe VI and Letizia Rocasolano took place here and the cathedral is a burial place of many royals.

The Courtyard of Madrid Royal Palace

The entry to the palace opens up through an expansive courtyard with a gallery on each side.

From the left side, you can admire views of the Campo park while the right side has access to the rooms and main building.

To start the tour you would head directly to the middle of the main building and make your way to the grand staircase.

Inside Madrid Royal Palace

The design of the palace has been inspired by sketches made by Bernini which were made for the Louvre museum in Paris, and the building feels a bit like a museum in real life too.

The palace has over 3000 different rooms, but you will see only a tiny fraction on the official tour.

You will enter through the main staircase with over 70 steps, designed by Sabatini. When you look up to the gorgeous ornamental ceiling it’s hard not to get a feeling like you’re standing in a cathedral.

The staircase is unfortunately usually clogged up with groups of people listening to a tour guide, and I imagine in summer it gets even more crowded.

The Palace Interiors

The interiors of the palace are opulently decorated with Spanish marble, gold, mahogany doors and windows, stunning huge chandeliers and beautiful artworks.

The only room you can photograph is the first one you enter, after that a no-photography sign is displayed by the door and even the use of phone cameras is strictly controlled.

As you move between the different rooms, the space you can explore is fairly limited by a red rope, and you can’t simply walk around the whole room.

From memory, I think my favourite room was the Crown Room and it’s very hard to remember the rest of them thanks to zero photographs to look back on.

Around the Palace

My visit to the palace ended up being a rather speedy one as I didn’t take the tour guide option, so spent under an hour there.

The surroundings of the palace offer more places to explore and include:

  • Plaza de Oriente
  • Campo del Moro Gardens
  • Sabatini Gardens
  • Palacio de Godoy
  • Teatro Real
  • Plaza de Espana

Essential Information for Visiting Palacio Real in Madrid

Tickets: there are a number of ticket options available, starting at 12 euro per person. If you also want to visit the royal kitchens – highly recommended – you have to purchase the more expensive ticket at 16 euro per person.

A reduced rate at 6 euros is available for 5 – 16-year-olds, students up to 25 years old, seniors and kids under 5 years go free.

Buy tickets to the palace: generic tickets can be bought here, and the combined ticket with the visit of the royal kitchens can be bought here.

Free entry to the palace: Free entry is available from Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 7pm (and 4pm to 6pm in winter) to citizens of EU, local residents and work permit holders. Guided tours during the free entry hours are not permitted. Tickets to enter can be only obtained from the ticket office, not in advance online.

Opening hours:

  • Winter hours (October to March). From Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 18:00. Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00
  • Summer hours (April to September). From Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00. Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00
  • Box office and admission to the Palace close one hour earlier.

Guided tour with palace app: the palace can be enjoyed with a guided tour – simply download their app here to enjoy the tour in one of 16 different languages.

Getting to the palace: You can get to the palace with buses number 3, 25, 39 and 148. Metro lines 5 and 2 (opera station) are the closest ones. For train access, get off at Príncipe Pío Station.

Palace Location: marked on the map below

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