Palacio Real Tavel Guide
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is an enormous palace, one of the biggest in Europe, with scorching plains of concrete around it. Though it is the official residence of the King of Spain, the royal family does not actually reside here and it is generally used only for state ceremonies. The Royal Palace is considered to be one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid, not only for its location on a bluff overlooking the river valley but also for its architecture and the artistic treasures to be found in its rooms. A simple one-way tour of the palace (both self-guided and guided are available) takes you up the grand stairway and through the lavishly decorated state rooms with their elegant tapestries, frescoes, porcelain, carvings and added decor like china, silverware, medals, etc. From the courtyard you can access the Farmacia (Pharmacy), which contains hundreds of bottles of early medicines and a reconstructed laboratory, and the Real Armorial (Royal Armory), a two-story collection of medieval weapons and armor. Explanations in the armory are in Spanish only, so do not expect to understand much unless your know the Spanish names for all that medieval weaponry. The lines to get in are very long, especially on Wednesday when the place is free - try to go early.