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Palacio Real de Madrid
King Juan Carlos and his family do not reside in the palace, instead choosing a smaller palace, the Palacio de la Zarzuela , on the outskirts of Madrid. However, the Palacio Real de Madrid remains the official residence of the Spanish monarchy and is used for state occasions.
The site of the palace dates from a 10th-century fortress, called mayrit, constructed as an outpost by Mohammed I, Emir of Córdoba and inherited after 1036 by the independent Moorish Kingdom of Toledo . After Madrid fell to Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, the edifice was only rarely used by the kings of Castile. In 1329, King Ferdinand V of Castile convoked the cortes of Madrid for the first time. Philip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561.
The Antiguo Alcázar ("Old Castle") was built on the location in the 16th century. It burned on December 24, 1734; King Philip V ordered a new palace built on the same location. Construction spanned from 1738 to 1755, according to the designs of Juan Bautista Sachetti in cooperation with Ventura Rodríguez , Sabatini, and Scirmento . The new palace was occupied by Carlos III in 1764.
The palace is the largest in all of Western Europe, occupying an area of 135,000 m². It is richly decorated by artists such as Velázquez, Tiepolo, Mengs , Gasparini , Juan de Flandes , Caravaggio, and Goya. Several royal collections of great historical importance are kept at the castle, including the Royal Armoury and its weapons dating back to the 13th century, and the world's largest collection of Stradivarius instruments, as well as collections of tapestry, porcelain, furniture, and other objets d'art of great historical importance.
Below the palace is a garden called the Campo del Moro; to the east is the Plaza de Oriente. To the south is a vast square, the Plaza de la Armería, surrounded by narrow wings of the palace, and to the south of that is located the Catedral de la Almudena.
The palace is located on the calle de Bailén in the western part of downtown Madrid, east of the Manzanares River , and is accessible from Ópera metro station.
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