Seeing as we had a view of the Palacio Real from our hotel room down the road on the Paseo del Florida, it was one of the first places we headed to when we landed in Madrid. This stunning palace, built during the mid-1700s, is the official residence of the King of Spain and is the place where all the official ceremonies and engagements take place. The neo-classical-style architecture, all huge columns and grand gates, is absolutely stunning.
Unfortunately, due mainly to bad timing on our part, we weren’t able to actually get inside because of either ceremonial national events or because the queue was so damn long we’d have wasted half the day standing in it. On a four-day city break, that just wasn’t something we were prepared to do.
Still, standing on the Plaza de Oriente, we got to witness the commemoration of the execution of the defenders of Madrid in 1808 (where every type of Spanish guard, police officer and soldier paraded in full costume) and a ceremonial changing of the guards. It was all the royal pomp and ceremony we could have wished for.
Unfortunately, due to our non-existent grasp of Spanish we hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on at the time, but it was impressive nonetheless!