Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Architecture, Chandeliers, Paintings, Tapestries and Rugs: The Royal Palace in Madrid

On the second day we were in Spain, our destination was the Royal Palace.  It was within a 10-minute walking distance from our apartment.  We had a easy entry since we skipped the long line to get tickets - Thanks to Tim who was thinking in advance - getting our tickets ahead of time.

Considered to be the biggest royal palace in Europe by floor area (1.5 million sq.ft) with 3418 rooms, what else can I say about this Spanish Royal Palace?  As we toured the open spaces, I wanted badly to take pictures to help my memory about this huge place.  However, picture-taking was strictly prohibited. Even so, I tried to take just one picture of the grand dining hall with 14 enormous chandeliers and not to mention the sconces that  hung from the walls.  Unfortunately, I was seen by the room guard and he advised me to put my cell phone in my purse.  Sigh.

Deprived of the aid of electronics, my brain tried to consolidate all the things I observed inside the palace:  architecture, chandeliers, paintings (both ceiling frescoes and royal portraits), tapestries, rugs, and a few nick knacks such as crown, scepter in the throne room and violins and violoncello by Stradivarius in another room.  That's right, inside the palace is a picture of grandeur and opulence but expressed in a consistent monotony of those things - architecture, lighting, art, textile (tapestry and rugs) and some very precious little things. That's it.  When you get to the last rooms being shown, the rooms increasingly become predictable.

The palace is of baroque style - which I find very ornate with lots of arches.  Every room is furnished with very very grand chandeliers, there was no exception.  Ceilings are not boring.  They are painted in such a way that you want to take notice of them including the moldings around them.  On the contrary, the walls are hardly noticeable because they are covered with portraits.  I thought that the  ones I saw at the Museo del Prado were amazing but I found out that they are only sketches of the artists while practicing for their final works which are displayed inside the palace.  Where there are no paintings, there were tapestries that came with a story.  Most of the tapestries depict pictures of the members of the royal families and their special events but there was one exception.  Inside what they call the Meeting Room are tapestries that showed everyday life of the common people.  My kids and I thought that it is the facade that the ruler wanted to show other rulers whom he would be meeting - a concern for the masses.  But we soon found out that the tapestries were a collection of the pictures that showed the "Power of Spain".  So we were wrong.  They were in fact meant to show off the Spanish imperial power. On the floor are custom-made rugs that were meant to fit the size and shape of the rooms.  In most cases, though, the rugs are rolled away from the traffic area.  I assume that they unroll them only for the special people.

Brahms and Tim discuss about the asymmetry of the staircase...maybe.

As a family we have visited other palaces in the past such as Windsor Castle in England, Edinburgh Castle ans Scone Palace in Scotland, Prince John Castle in Ireland, Cardiff Castle in Wales and even the Tower of London which, apart from being a prison, was also a Royal residence, etc.  These royal residences are big and opulent but like the residences of the commoners, they also are the places where joyful celebrations and tragedies happen.  People who live in them share the same longings for prosperity, honor, power and health as those who live in smaller houses.  They eat the same things only differing in presentation, preparation and quantity.  They collect things - only more expensive ones.  They have more of everything including headaches, intrigues, and problems. Visiting these museum residences are good for helping me understand the way wealthy people live in the past.

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