Palacio Real de El Prado


Today we went on a study visit, also known as a field trip, to the Palacio Real de El Prado, or the Royal Palace of El Prado. This magnificent palace started off as just one small building with a patio. Over the years it went through many construction phases and restoration projects. The Palace was once the home of the hunting grounds for kings since it was located on the outskirts of the city next to a park that connects with the forest.

side view
(credit: Esteban Martinez)

The palace is mostly baroque style and has lot of french influence inside as well. The palace is mostly decorated with famous tapestries such as those made by Francisco Goya in the 18th century. The palace is also home to The Queens Gallery which is the most decorated room in the entire house. Most of the palace rooms actually still have the original furniture from the day that it was placed inside. The only rooms that are modernized are a small section that was remodeled specifically for official visitors of Spain. Just like most palaces of the time it holds many tapestries, french clocks, and chandeliers. Do to the age of the items inside and the state of the fragile tapestries people are forbidden to taking pictures of anything once inside the palace!

front entrance
Front Entrance of the Palace (credit: Esteban Martinez)

Besides being the home for various kings it once was the home of notorious dictator Francisco Franco. Besides having his regime’s headquarters here, Franco also lived here along with his family. It was used for “official business and private life”. It also was, and currently is, the place where foreign dignitaries stay when they come to visit. One of the most noted people to come to Spain was United States President, Barack Obama; not only because he is the President of the United States, but because he is one of the only people, if not the only person, who has not stayed in the palace when he came to visit.

Among the many fun and interesting things about this palace is that there is a private screening cinema theater that was once a regular theater until Franco changed it to a cinema for him and his private family. Fun fact, Franco actually anonymously wrote a script for a film,  and believe it or not it was picked up and actually done. Not so fun fact, a small chapel was built inside a wing of the palace where the bedroom of a king used to be in honor of his death. The kings’ wife, the queen, had the chapel built exactly where the kings bed was in the moment he died in his sleep.

A Catholic Church which is connected to the Palace through a small hallway with a secret entrance inside the Palace (credit: Esteban Martinez)

The palace today is owned and operated by the state. Besides being a tourist attraction it is the place where official business is done. Though the King is supposed to live here he only comes when there are official matters to be discussed. The king actually lives in a different area just south of the palace.

View of the gate from the front of the Palace (credit: Esteban Martinez)

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