Tag Archives: King Filip VI Spain

Travels in Spain, The Royal Palace and Cathedral in Madrid

Madrid Royal Palace

We had skipped the Palace visit the previous day fearing that it would be too busy following the celebrations for five years of the reign of Filipe VI and the backlog of visitors so today we arrived early and joined a long line of people waiting to pay up and get inside the Royal residence.

It was 14th June and the next day was going to be sixty-five years old but the half price concession was a day away and although I was prepared to try and blag it the man at the entrance wanted proof of age so I decided not to risk pay desk humiliation and meekly handed over the full adult fee.  Anyway, I am sixty-five now (old and cranky according to Crystal) so this shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

I have visited other Royal Palaces in Spain at San Ildefonso O La Granja, El Escorial and Arunjuez so I was interested now to visit the most important of them all.  In fact the King of Spain has eight Royal Palaces to choose from but I suspect he doesn’t stay at any of them very often, most are close to Madrid and one is on the island of Mallorca.  By comparison the Queen of England also has eight Royal residencies but only one is officially a Palace (Buckingham of course). France doesn’t have a monarchy so has no Royal Palaces.

Madrid Palace Gardens

Once inside we began the tour and were immediately aware of the extreme opulence and the wealth of the Spanish Royal Family.  Obscene amount of money actually, there must surely be a way of redistributing such massive amounts of wealth.  If King Felipe VI got out a bit more into deprived areas then surely he would have a pang or two of guilt.

Currently there are twelve monarchies in Europe but rather surprisingly Spain is only ninth in the wealth list.  There are forty-five monarch states across the World but sixteen of these are courtesy of the Queen of England in her role as Head of the Commonwealth.  The three richest Royal Families in Europe are heads of State in three of the smallest countries, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Monaco.  I suspect also that Tsar Vladamir Putin is worth a bob or two.  Surely these people could spread it around a bit?

The walk through the rooms inside the Palace took nearly two hours so it was a good job that we were only visiting twenty-three out of three thousand four hundred and eighteen or else we would have been there for three months or so.  It was a good tour which finished with the Royal Crown Jewels and then the massive throne room.

Outside we wandered through the central courtyard and then to the Royal Armoury where there is a large collection of armour and items of warfare.  As within the main Palace photography was not allowed so this is a postcard that I had to buy in the gift shop…

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…and this is a picture of my own collection of medieval lead soldiers which was a massive waste of money mistake and which was once in the house but is now relegated to an out of the way display in my shed…

Medieval Soldiers

Following the Calle Mayor we arrived at the city cathedral which seemed unusually modern and the reason for this is that when the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo so the new one had no cathedral. There obviously wasn’t a great deal of urgency about the matter however and construction of a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena did not begin until 1879 and due to the volatility of Spanish politics throughout the twentieth century was not completed until 1993.

I am usually nervous about visiting cathedrals because I am aware that Kim is not especially keen.  She thinks that they are all rather similar and I confess that secretly I am forced to agree with her on this point.  Often they are instantly forgettable and all of the detail of the many merges into one.

Madrid Cathedral Exterior

As it turned out this one was a very good one, the usual trappings of a Cathedral of course but also some nice little twists with some good exhibitions and displays which even Kim enjoyed and almost a month after the visit I can recall a lot of the detail.

Leaving the Cathedral we walked back again to the City Centre, we were going to eat at what had become our favourite bar close to the hotel but the owner explained that there was a staff shortage and the kitchen wasn’t open so we went instead to a nearby place where we had enjoyed our daily breakfasts.  I had grilled squid, Kim had a generous tuna salad but for some unexplained reason Richard and Pauline had another calamari baguette which I thought was a very odd menu selection.  It looked equally as bad as the previous day and they both confirmed that yes, it was. Some people never learn.

Madrid Calamari Bocadillo

One thing I found interesting today was that the King of Spain doesn’t allow pictures in his house but the Lord God doesn’t mind.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

More Cathedrals of Spain

Travels in Spain – Madrid, Don Quixote and a Royal Celebration

Madrid Royal Palace

When I am in Italy I look out for statues of Garibaldi and when I am in Spain I try to find statues of Don Quixote to add to my collection.

Perhaps the most famous statue of him is in the Plaza de España at the extreme western end of the Grand Via and quite close to the Royal Palace and the Cathedral so early one morning I selfishly walked us all down there just to get my picture. This was to end in disappointment because the entire square was closed off behind ten foot high wooden boards hiding a lot of building work as the square was being completely restructured.

I caught an ellusive glimpse of the statue but not clearly enough to take a picture so I bought this postcard instead…

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Don Quixote is a novel written by the seventeenth century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and is regarded as the most influential work of literature to emerge from the Spanish Golden Age.

It is the story of a man who believes that he is a knight and recounts his adventures as he rights wrongs, mistakes peasants for princesses and “tilts at windmills” mistakenly believing them to be evil giants. As one of the earliest works of modern western literature it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published. In 2002 a panel of one hundred leading world authors declared Don Quixote to be the best work of fiction ever written, ahead even of works by Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

don-quixote-book-cover

Cervantes has also been credited with shaping modern literary style and Don Quixote has been acclaimed as “the first great novel of world literature”. Since publication in 1605 it is reputed to be the most widely read and translated book on the planet after the Bible. I tried to read it once but found it rather heavy going so gave up quite quickly but as we walked along I resolved to have another attempt.

The others superficially sympathised with my disappointment about the failure to see the statue but I could tell that they didn’t genuinely share it as we walked next to Parque del Oeste to see the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

Madrid Egyptian Temple

I was surprised to find a genuine Egyptian Temple in Madrid but it turns out that in 1960, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt and the consequent threat posed by its reservoir to numerous monuments and archeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to help.  In 1968 as a gesture of gratitude for the assistance provided by Spain in saving the Abu Simbel temples that were due to be flooded and lost forever the Egyptian State donated to them the temple of Debod.  It constitutes one of the few works of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be seen outside Egypt and the only one of its kind in Spain.  Well, who knew that?

The Temple was closed to visitors today due to unexplained ‘technical reasons’ but there were some very good views over the city from the top of the park so we stayed for a while and then continued our walk towards the Royal Palace gardens, the Jardines de Sabatini.

Madrid Palace Gardens

There were lovely walks though the gardens but a lot of police ‘do not cross’ lines and we were soon to find out why when we left and made our way to Palace itself where there were crowds of people outside all waving tiny Spanish flags and trying to see through the gates. It turned out to be part of a celebration of five years of the reign of the King of Spain Felipe VI who was crowned here in June 2014.

Our intention this morning was to visit the Palace but this plan was now in tatters because the place was closed while the celebrations inside continued. So we made our way to nearby Plaza de La Armeria which separates the Palace from the Cathedral and from where there were good views inside the Palace courtyard where we could see the military displays and the arrival of the distinguished guests.

The Royal flag was flying from the top of the Palace which was a sign that the King (full name – Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia) himself was there today but to be honest we were quite unable to pick him out. Eventually the soldiers and the military bands all marched off and the crowds melted away into the shadows of the side streets and feeling lucky to have been there at the right time for once we slipped away ourselves back to the city centre.

We thought it might be better to return to the Palace for the visit the next day when it was most likely not to be so busy so today instead we found a nice shady restaurant for lunch and then more or less repeated the guided tour of the previous day but this time at our leisure.

I will bring you back to the Palace in the next post.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…