While Spain still has a monarchy, it is a constitutional monarchy, and, much like Queen Elizabeth, King Juan Carlos I, who has ruled since 1975, holds very little real power.
The Spanish royal family lacks much of the celebrity of the British Royals, though the Crown Prince, Felipe, does manage to occasionally make headlines, especially with regards to his family life with wife Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, an award-winning television news reporter and anchor. The couple married in 2004 and have two children.
Constant tabloid pictures and magazine gossip aren’t the only thing this family is missing out on that the British royals have. They also don’t get to live in the Royal Palace of Madrid, which is now used only for official State ceremonies and tourists.
Things to see in Madrid: Royal Palace of Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid is on the Western side of the city and overlooks Casa de Campo, a park area.
The site of the Palace was used as a fortress and to house royals since the 1400’s. When a fire destroyed the buildings in 1794, a new palace was built, influenced heavily by French style and buildings such as the Louvre.
Today guests can tour the grounds and many of the rooms refurbished to the height of their 1700’s grandeur.
Rooms to Note in the Royal Palace of Madrid
No photos are allowed inside, but be sure to pay special attention in the following rooms:
The Throne Room – two gold encrusted thrones sit at the top of a set of stairs, protected by golden lions.
The Porcelein Room – floor to ceilings covered in extravagant tiles from the royal factory.
The Hall of Mirrors – based on the hall of the same name at Versailles, this hall is much less crowded than its counterpart.
The Gasparini Room – originally used to receive guests, this room is extravagance at its finest, with a golden chandelier and 3D wallpaper encrusted with Chinese art.
Each room drips in an opulence that rivals Versailles and the other more famous palaces of Europe. Be sure to look up, because most rooms are adorned with detailed frescos.
Visit the Sabatini Gardens
When visiting the Royal Palace, also pay a visit to the Sabatini gardens. Located next to the palace, these royal gardens are now open to the public and free of charge.