It replaced the former medieval Alcázar, which was burnt to the ground in 1794. The present day Royal Palace of Madrid was decorated to the tastes of Charles III, and is lavish inside. Visitors can wander through many of the rooms and banqueting halls.
Flash photography is not permitted inside the building, so make sure you take a camera that is set to function without flash.
If you arrive at the metro station at Opera, it is about 5 minutes walk to the entrance of the palace, although you will see it after about 2 minutes walk. Alternatively, if you are coming from the centre, around the Plaza Mayor, then you can follow Calle Mayor directly to the palace, which shouldn't take more than 15 minutes.
Just walking around the outside of the Royal Palace is impressive. There is a vast courtyard behind elegant iron fencing. To the side of the courtyard is an unexpected and stunning view across the countryside beyond. It's as if Madrid just stops and the fields and trees start. On a clear day this panoramic view is breathtaking.
Once inside the Royal Palace you have a choice of purchasing either a ticket for a guided tour, or a normal ticket (€1.00 less) so that you can walk around at your own pace. The guided tour is in depth and takes about 45 minutes. If you walk around under your own steam, there are still information points throughout that explain more about each room and its function.
You have access to lavish halls, banqueting rooms, the throne room, residential areas, the Royal Armoury and Royal Pharmacy. Many important events have taken place within the walls of the Royal Palace. For example, the Hall of Columns was where Spain signed a treaty that gave them acceptance into the European Union in 1985.
The queue to get into the Royal Palace can get quite long. Try getting there early. Although I have passed by on a Sunday around midday and there was no queue at all. But don't forget that the Palace closes at 16:00 on Sundays.
The Royal Palace also houses art exhibitions that are available to view at no extra charge.
Information about which exhibition is currently showing is available in the entrance area, and posters are also on display around the exterior of the Royal Palace.
Palacio Real de Madrid
Calle de Bailén
28071 Madrid, España.
Tel: +34 91 454 8700
Royal Palace Official website
Metro: Opera (Red Line, L2) or (Green Line, L5)
Timetable: October - March: Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
April - September: Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 20:00
Without guide: €11.00
With guide: €15.00 with guide. Children under 5: free
Cheap rate for pre-arranged school groups, old age pensioners, students and the handicapped: €6.00
Entry with the Madrid Card: Free
Disabled access available.