May 21, 2024

Spain’s grandiose Palacio Real quite obviously had designs on being heralded as an Iberian Versailles. The 2,800 room Italianate baroque colossus built by Felipe V never quite managed to challenge its European counterparts, but its soaring white facade is pretty magnificent – as are the fifty rooms open to the public; the highlights of which are the Royal Pharmacy, Royal Armory, the Porcelain Room, and the Throne Room with its Tiepolo ceiling and crimson velvet walls. Perhaps embarrassed by the imperial extravagance of it all, Spain’s current ruling family lives in more republican digs, dropping by the family manse only when duty calls. And while we’re on the subject of duty: all this pomp’s got me thinking I’m forgetting something royally important today …

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