Walk in the footsteps of Spanish kings and queens when you visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, one of the most memorable experiences in the Spanish capital.
Madrid’s Royal Palace lets curious tourists take a tour through the history of the monarchy, enjoying lots of beautiful art, furniture, and historical objects along the way. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time in Madrid, don’t miss the chance to visit this opulent palace.
Getting to the Royal Palace by train
The Royal Palace is conveniently located in the city centre, so you can easily walk there if you’re based nearby. If you’re staying in a hotel outside Centro, you might need to take public transport to get there.
But don’t worry! Madrid boasts a convenient and easy-to-navigate public transport system, so you can get where you’re going in no time. Choose buses, metros, trains, and trams, and hop on and off at leisure.
Which station is nearest to the Royal Palace?
The easiest way to get around Madrid is by metro. You can pick up a multi-day travel pass and swipe on and off metro services as you please, without buying a new ticket each time.
The nearest metro station to the Royal Palace is called Ópera, which is practically at its front door! Alight here and make your way inside. Alternatively, you can take a regular train, bus, or metro to Príncipe Pío, which is also just around the corner from the Royal Palace.
Exploring the Royal Palace of Madrid
As well as its unique artwork, furniture, and historical objects, the Royal Palace is a beauty from the outside. There are lots of things to see during your visit, so get ready to take it all in. And don’t forget your camera!
Whether you book onto the official tour or take yourself around, you’ll walk through 50 of the palace rooms and visit lots of significant spots along the way. This is one of the largest palaces in Europe, made up of over 3,000 rooms and a grand marble staircase with more than 70 steps. You’ll ascend this magnificent staircase during your visit.
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable things you’ll see when you get there.
The Throne Room
The most spectacular room in the Royal Palace, the Throne Room is still used for official ceremonies today. It’s the same now as it was during the reign of Charles III. Think regal red velvet wall hangings and vast mirrors, adding even more light into the gigantic space.
The Throne Room boasts an impressive ceiling, decorated with an intricate fresco painted by the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. This painting is called the Glory of Spain and represents the greatness of the Spanish monarchy. Look out for coats of arms, animals, flags, and mythological figures hidden in the image.
The Hall of Halberdiers
This is one of the first rooms you’ll visit on your tour. The Hall of Halberdiers is another of the Palace’s most impressive spaces, adorned with beautiful 18th-century tapestries and a breathtaking ceiling fresco by Tiepolo.
Charles III converted this hall into the Guards Room, so you might recognise it by the more recent name.
The Hall of Columns
The spectacular Hall of Columns was once used for royal banquets. Today, you’ll find it embellished with portraits, 16th-century bronze casts, and Roman imperial busts. This is an exciting part of the tour, as visitors stroll around the room examining its impressive collection of art and sculptures.
Did you know? The Hall of Columns is where the treaty for Spain’s membership in the European Union was signed in 1985.
The Banqueting Hall
As the name suggests, this is the room where Kings, Queens, and their guests have dined throughout history. The hall can host up to 145 guests and is decorated with some elaborate 16th-century tapestries. Visitors can also look at silver and crystal tableware which has really been used by the Spanish royals.
The Porcelain Room
Prepare to gasp. The appropriately named Porcelain Room is covered from top to bottom in – you guessed it – porcelain. This unique space was built on the orders of Charles III. The walls and ceiling are covered entirely in green and white porcelain from the Buen Retiro Factory which the King was heavily invested in.
The Royal Pharmacy
The Royal Pharmacy is another memorable stop on your tour of the Palace. Visitors can see a collection of herbs and medicines in jars and storage drawers dating back to the 18th century. Not to mention old medicine recipe books containing historic concoctions which would have been prescribed to Spanish Kings and Queens.
Royal Palace of Madrid History and Facts
Like most European Palaces, Madrid’s boasts a long and turbulent history. From an 18-year construction to changing hands over centuries, there are lots of moments to learn about during your tour.
The Madrid Royal Palace location
So why is the Royal Palace where it is? Central Madrid wasn’t always central Madrid, after all. The story starts with the Moorish, the Arab people who occupied Spain in the Middle Ages. Centuries before Madrid became the capital of Spain, Emir Mohamed I chose Magerit – the city’s Arabic name – to be the site of a fortress.
The Moorish built their fortress in the location of the Palace we know today, in a spot which was ideal for defending the old Arabic citadel against advancing Christians.
When the Moors were overtaken, Alfonso VI took control of Madrid. The old fortress fell out of use until the end of the 15th century when it became one of a few used to defend the city. At this time, Charles I and his son Philip II turned the fortress into a permanent home for the royal family, as well as the seat of the city’s Royal Court.
Fire and rebuilding
When the original fortress burnt down in 1734, King Phillip V ordered a new palace to be built on the land. This would be the Royal Palace of Madrid we know today. Building started in 1738 and took 18 years to complete. Just one look at the elaborate palace and it’s easy to see why construction took so long.
Since the Royal Palace was rebuilt as Spain became wealthier, lots of expensive materials were used in the new construction. The façades are made mostly from grey and white stone, while Spanish marble and gold stucco features on many walls and stairs. Doors and windows are made chiefly of beautiful mahogany, which complements tapestries, paintings, and sculptures wonderfully.
Construction started in-line with plans from the Italian architect Filippo Juvarra. Juvarra took inspiration from French Baroque palaces, and from fellow Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Sadly, Juvarra died before the Royal Palace could be completed. The architect’s student, Giambattista Sacchetti, took the lead on the design after this, also leaning towards the Baroque style. Lastly, Francesco Sabatini was called on to expand the palace in 1760. He introduced another approach, adding more modern neoclassical elements to the building.
So the palace we see today combines elements of French, Italian, and neoclassical design to great success.
The palace as a residence
Charles III was the first King to live in the Royal Palace after its rebuild. His successors to the throne, including Charles IV and Ferdinand VII, added lots of the details you’ll see on your tour. For example, the Hall of Mirrors was ordered by Charles IV.
The decoration of the Royal Palace has changed a little over the years, as new monarchs adjust decoration to suit their taste. Still, lots of rooms remain as they were generations ago!
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Royal Palace of Madrid
Make the most of your trip to the Royal Palace of Madrid and visit some nearby restaurants, bars, and shops. The Palace is located in the heart of the city, which means you can find plenty of fantastic spots within walking distance.
The best restaurants near the Royal Palace of Madrid
- Café de Oriente – make the seamless transition from the Royal Palace to Café de Oriente. This fancy spot boasts unbeatable views of the Palace, a large outdoor terrace, and exquisite interiors. Not to mention the food. Head here during the day for drinks or a bistro-style lunch, or in the evening for something sumptuous. Whatever time you’re visiting, this is an experience you’re sure to remember.
- El Anciano Rey de los Vinos – this traditional little spot has been serving excellent wine and house vermouth since it opened in 1909. It’s the kind of place we imagine Hemmingway falling in love with. And you can too! With views of the cathedral from the large terrace and a cosy Spanish atmosphere inside, El Anciano Rey is an easy win. Order some tapas or a couple of drinks and enjoy.
- Ástor Gastro-Place – great food and atmosphere are all we ask for, and this neighbourhood joint in Centro offers both in spades. Ástor gastro-place is an eight-table, family-run restaurant serving genuinely exceptional food. Whether you visit for lunch or dinner, you’re sure to leave pleasantly stuffed and merry.
The best bars near the Royal Palace Madrid
Feeling thirsty? There are lots of bars close to the Royal Palace, so you can refresh and reflect after your tour. Whether you fancy wine, homemade vermouth, or something hot and caffeinated, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
We have a firm favourite when it comes to drinking after a Royal Palace visit. Terraza Atenas is one of the best locations in the city, nestled in the middle of the Parque de Atenas. Head to this lesser-known spot and grab a seat on the open-air terrace. Guests can enjoy excellent and well-priced cocktails, wine, and an array of other drinks under the Spanish sun. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a small swimming pool where you can dip your feet and enjoy your drinks.
Shopping near the Royal Palace of Madrid
If you feel like a little indulgence after your tour, or you want to pick up a souvenir to remind you of the day, you’re in luck! There are lots of places to shop near the Royal Palace. Head into Centro and explore the picturesque streets, or cross over the river for lots more great finds.
Discover the best retail destinations in Madrid when you check out our shopping guide!
Royal Palace Opening Times and Ticket Prices
You can visit the Royal Palace of Madrid (almost) any day you like. Doors are open throughout the week, with different hours for winter and summer.
- Winter hours apply from October to March when the Royal Palace is open from Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 18:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.
- Summer hours apply from April to September. During these months, the Royal Palace is open from Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.
For both winter and summer opening times, the box office will close one hour earlier. This is also the time for last admissions, so don’t be late! There are also some official planned closures throughout the year, including New Year’s Day and Christmas Day among others. Check online to be sure the Palace will be open when you’re planning a visit.
How much does it cost to visit the Royal Palace in Madrid?
The most recent ticket prices are below. Do check online to be sure the fee hasn’t changed before planning your visit.
Students (under 25)
Children (under 5)
You can buy tickets online to make planning your trip more straightforward.
Whenever and however you plan to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic time. Whether you’re into history, architecture, or just want to see some beautiful spaces, this is an unmissable attraction in the Spanish capital.
Taking the train to Madrid
Thanks to the efficient service run by Renfe – Spain’s national train company – it’s easy to reach Madrid by train. High-speed AVE trains can get you from Barcelona to Madrid in 2h 30m on the fastest services, Valencia to Madrid in 1h 40m and Seville to Madrid in 2h 30m. Trains to Madrid arrive into one of the city’s two main stations – Madrid Atocha or Madrid Chamartín; look out for the botanical garden if you arrive into the former!
Want to learn more about travelling by rail in Spain? Read our guide to trains in Spain, your one-stop-shop for all things rail. Our Renfe page also gives you the lowdown on Spain’s national train operator, including how to find the cheapest tickets.