Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Royal Palace

I've been going to museums and grand open homes for years. It's always such a delight to see what 
the ultra-rich have put money into. Most of the best art and music in the world were the direct 
result of patronage by rich people, government, and churches. So, to see where much of the 
wealth that was sucked out of the Americas ended up, was mind-boggling.

The Royal Palace is billed as Madrid's most beautiful building, and there's no
doubt about that. It is a huge edifice, with gold and black lampposts in the
courtyard, an armory, a pharmacy, and the living quarters of the royal family.
Much of the palace is closed to the public, and is actually still used for state
occasions. One large reception room had a list of the incredible world events
that took place there, including Middle East Peace conferences and treaty

The kitchens and storage rooms that must surely exist were not on the tour, nor
were the servant quarters. But the throne room, reception areas, the King's
personal quarters, and many rooms that were used over the years for various
purposes certainly were. The most beautiful room of all was the king's dressing chamber!

Every square inch of floor, wall and ceiling was covered in some form of
exquisite art. The walls had "wallpaper". Certainly not paper, but material,
hand woven and then embroidered and brocaded with fine silk thread and even
threads made from silver and gold. Ceilings were painted with scenes from Greek
and Roman mythology, and in the chapel, the ceiling gave the impression that if
you prayed hard enough, you could rise up through it directly into heaven.
The floors were designs of inlaid wood, or in some cases, stone - rivaling the
malachite and ruby stone inlays of the Taj Mahal. Furnishings were carved, and
sometimes painted, or gilded. One room was entirely of porcelain. Beautiful
delicate porcelain vines and flowers, from pots rising up to the porcelain
ceiling with clouds. Each panel had been made to fit the room, and then put
together in such a way that the joining seams could not be seen. The dining room
was enormous, the floor covered in the largest handwoven rug I've ever seen.
Walls were often covered in tapestries, now hundreds of years old, and still
beautiful. Chandeliers hung in almost every room, made from silver and crystal.
Statues abounded, of marble, and by artists such as Goya and Titian. Paintings
by Goya and Rafael graced the walls, any one of which required a long perusal. And in the music room, five, (yes 5!) Stradivari violins and a viola.

Sunday was the last day for the bindings exhibit so I took advantage and saw
that as well. Books, too, were an exquisite art form, and were a substantial
part of the royalty's investment. The exhibit was in six rooms and featured
every kind of binding imaginable from carved stone and wood covers for books, to
hand lettered and painted books with leather binding, even one made from a
carved slab of malachite with gold metal edges and trim. In addition, there was
a desk carved and constructed entirely of malachite, a present from Russia.
Other book features were the painted and embossed edges, the paper itself part
of the aesthetics. I have never seen so many beautiful books!Photos inside the palace were not allowed, but there are some on the web.  

Detail of the lamp post.

Sculpture on a corner of the Palace,

different ones on each corner of every wing.

Bas Reliefs are all over the place!

Monument in front of the palace

The Palace neighborhood.

Just a little view through the formal gardens...

The Palace Courtyard

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