Palacio Real, Calle de Bailén, Madrid, Spain
Although the royal family actually resides in a smaller palace outside the city and uses the Palacio Real only for formal functions, Madrid’s Royal Palace still deserves a visit. It is built on the site of a 9th-century fortress that was replaced by the original castle in the 16th century. After that burned down, in 1734, King Philip V constructed the palace visitors see today, which has the largest floor space of any European palace. The nearly 3,000 rooms, of which 50 are open to visitors, contain original furnishings, ornate frescoes and paintings by Velázquez, Caravaggio and Goya. Military buffs should stop by the Royal Armory, located off the main courtyard. The vast collection of armor and weapons includes pieces carried by former kings as long ago as the 13th century.
Another lovely part of the palace is its pretty gardens, the Campo del Moro, which spread out behind the main building. With their green lawns and spouting fountains inspired in part by Versailles, they provide a perfect escape from the summer heat (admission to the gardens is free). After visiting the palace, head to the Almudena Cathedral or the Royal Collections Gallery across the courtyard.
Written by Henley Vazquez