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.
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…
…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…
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.
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.
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…