Day 6 – Madrid: The Palacio Real

Given our exhausting day on Thursday, Friday we slept in until 9 a.m. Cindy had caught a cold, and both of the girls were tiring from the hectic pace. So, on this day we took a more laid back approach. We hung out in the hotel until after 11, at which time we wandered toward the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and had a quick lunch nearby. Then, we walked on down to tour the Royal Palace, which was ordered to be built in the mid-1700s by King Philip V, the grandnephew of the “Sun King,” King Louis XIV of France. Philip, who was born at the spectacular Versailles, desired a comparable palace in Madrid, hence the Palacio Real. The palace contains 2800 rooms, an abundance of luxurious tapestries, a wealth of grandiose chandeliers, frescoes by Tiepolo, and oodles of gold leaf, bronze, and porcelain. Photos were not allowed inside the palace, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to plan your own trip (or, perhaps, go online). 🙂

The Crew of Beatitude standing in the courtyard of the Palacio Real

The Crew of Beatitude standing in the courtyard of the Palacio Real

Palacio Real

Palacio Real

Entering the Palace: Ceiling Fresco by Italian Rococo painter, Corrado Giaquinto

Entering the Palace: Ceiling Fresco by Italian Rococo painter, Corrado Giaquinto

The entry stairs into the palace

The entry stairs into the palace

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Being entertained by this excellent accordionist outside the Royal Palace: girls are, of course, shopping in the gift shop

Being entertained by this excellent accordionist outside the Royal Palace: girls are, of course, shopping in the gift shop

The birthday girls holding up a Barberton, Ohio newspaper

The birthday girls holding up a Barberton, Ohio newspaper

We were also blessed to visit two impressive churches on this day. The Almudena Cathedral (named after the Virgin of Almudena) sits next door to the Palacio Real. Standing in opposition to the usual churches we find in Europe, the Cathedral is a modern edifice, built in the late 20th century and consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It’s interior is Neo-Gothic and the ceilings and paintings within have a very contemporary feel to them. The main attraction for pilgrims is a 13th-century coffin (empty) in a chapel behind the main altar. It at one time held a humble farmer named Isidro, who is now Madrid’s (co-)patron saint. Angels are said to have plowed his field for him while he prayed. Forty years after he died, the coffin was opened, and his body was found to have been miraculously preserved.

The Almudena Cathedral

The Almudena Cathedral

A look down the nave of the Almudena Cathedral

A look down the nave of the Almudena Cathedral

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Interior - Almudena Cathedral

Interior – Almudena Cathedral

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The Virgin of Almudena above the altar

The Virgin of Almudena above the altar

The 13th Century coffin of Saint Isidore

The 13th Century coffin of Saint Isidore

Stained Glass Window in the Crypt of Almudena Cathedral

Stained Glass Window in the Crypt of Almudena Cathedral

Looks like somebody important's tomb -- I couldn't figure out whom.

Looks like somebody important’s tomb — I couldn’t figure out whom.

In the Crypt

In the Crypt

A Chapel in Almudena Cathedral

A Chapel in Almudena Cathedral

Earlier I had stopped in the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, which was very near our hotel, in the barrio (neighborhood) called La Latina. The interior is magnificent and teeming with gold interspersed with art, including the works of Goya and Zurbarán. It was constructed in a Neo-classical style in the 18th century. It’s dome is massive.

Interior of the sumptuous Basilica of San Francisco el Grande

Interior of the sumptuous Basilica of San Francisco el Grande

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The Altar of San Francisco el Grande

The Altar of San Francisco el Grande

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After touring the Palacio Real and the Cathedral we had dinner at a mediocre restaurant not far from the hotel for dinner. It was a little disappointing, but you can’t hit a home run with every dining choice. Afterwards, the birthday girls walked back to the hotel (with a little directional assistance), while I wandered around town in the night for another hour or two. I strolled up to the cobbled, traffic-free square called the Plaza Mayor. This was the main square in times past. During the 17th-century Plaza Mayor played host to bullfights, royal events, and happenings of the Inquisition. I ambled through the congested Mercado De San Miguel and made my way to the Plaza de España, where I discovered a statue of Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor

Madrid’s Plaza Mayor

The St. Michael Market on Plaza Mayor

The St. Michael Market on Plaza Mayor

Inside the crowded market

Inside the crowded market

Momument to Miguel de Cervantes on the Plaza de España

Momument to Miguel de Cervantes on the Plaza de España

Bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in front of the monument

Bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in front of the monument

Back side of the Palacio Real at night

Back side of the Palacio Real at night

Almudena Cathedral at night.

Almudena Cathedral at night.

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3 thoughts on “Day 6 – Madrid: The Palacio Real

  1. Who would have thought we would be blessed to see so many gorgeous cathedrals..works of art & the royal palace?!? You sure know how to plan a trip Capitan! Muchous gracious!

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