There are so many amazing palaces in Spain to visit and enjoy. Some are still occupied by royalty, whilst others are utilized to house visiting dignitaries. Many are now museums with exhibitions, showcasing the wonderful insight into palace life over the centuries.
Whatever you’re looking for in a palace, you’ll find each one imbued with its own extraordinary and distinctive cultural history, and as unique as the diverse individuals who once presided there. The guide below looks at just some of the many Spanish palaces to visit in Spain, and all are guaranteed to ensure you enjoy a truly memorable and royal experience.
Most Famous Palace in Spain
The Royal Palace, Madrid
The official residence of the Spanish Royal family, the palace is located in Western Madrid, amidst the renowned Campo Del Moro Gardens. The exterior is constructed out of local white and grey stone, and the interior reveals noble textiles of marble, golden stucco, and mahogany. With inspiration from both Italian and French architects, this magnificent baroque palace is definitely worth a visit.
Not only is it one of the largest palaces in Spain, but it’s one of the largest in the world. Covering over 135,000 square meters with 3,418 rooms, the castle contains the Royal Armoury and the magnificent Throne Room, with a vast collection of bronze and crystal chandeliers, works of art, and treasures that will have you spellbound.
The Royal Palace of Madrid welcomes almost 2 million visitors a year and offers dozens of activities and organized events such as the changing of the guard. It is a very popular attraction in Madrid, you should definitely get a ticket beforehand to save time.
Madrid, Spain Palaces
The Crystal Palace, Madrid
Take a visit to the Parque del Buen Retiro, and hidden amongst the trees, you’ll come across the Crystal Palace of Madrid. Imitating London’s Crystal Palace, this magnificent metal and glass structure, built in the form of a Greek cross, was originally used as a glass house to hold the local fauna and flora. Standing at over 22 meters in height it resembles a large birdcage with a vast cupola that allows the sun’s rays to shine through.
The palace has a picturesque lake and is known to be one of the most serene palaces in Spain. Here, you can hire a boat and see the ducks, geese, and swans that reside there. It also has an annual bird exhibition and is now home to the Reina Sofia Museum with all-year-round temporary art exhibitions. A visit after sunset is definitely advised, to see the lights come on, and the palace facades come to life
Royal Palace of El Pardo, Madrid
Standing on the hill of El Pardo, and enclosed by 16,000 hectares of woodland, the Palace of El Pardo is owned by the Spanish state.
Encircled by a moat, this traditional square palace has four protruding towers and boasts Flemish-style slate roofs with tall trestles and spikes. Visitors are welcome to visit this palace which is one of the most richly ornamented Castilian-style palaces in Spain, when it’s not entertaining foreign heads of state.
Enter the main entrance into the courtyard galleries and see the historical coats of arms and emblems. Then venture inside to see the well-preserved 18th and 19th-century furniture surrounded by Italian-style frescoes. Look out for the chambers of the King and Queen, the Royal dining room, the palace theatre, and surviving religious works and historical paintings.
Seville, Spain Palaces
Palace of San Telmo, Seville
Located in Seville in Southern Spain, the Palace of San Telmo was constructed in extraordinary Baroque style architecture. With a lavishly ornamented façade, it is one of the most phenomenal castles in Spain. Particularly striking is the Marie Luisa Gardens, well worth a stroll around.
Behind the entrance of the palace, you’ll discover a clock tower, palm trees, and busts of historical figures. But there is so much more to take in, including the hall of mirrors, which was once a ballroom. There’s also the notable chapel showcasing various paintings and statues, with an altar featuring the Madonna of the Fair Winds as the centerpiece featuring scrolls, curls, and cherubs coated in gilt.
Las Dueñas Palace, Seville
Constructed in the late 15th century, the Dueñas Palace situated in Seville is one of the city’s most fascinating historical attractions. Oozing charisma and character, the palace boasts an array of resplendent courtyards and locally influenced architecture. Take a stroll through the surrounding gardens and its array of unique plants, or marvel at the entrance, beautifully blanketed in bougainvillea.
Take a tour inside the palace to discover a collection of over 1,400 paintings, sculptures, and historical pieces. Explore the majestic rooms at your leisure and admire the period furniture and tapestries reflecting how the palace would have looked during those times. Whilst there, visit the altar in the chapel with its Sevillian ceramics and tiles with metallic reflections.
San Ildefonso, Spain Palaces
The Royal Palace of La Granja, San Ildefonso
Located in the hills near Segovia, this 18th-century palace, lies in the small town of San Ildefonso. Within its vast 146 hectares of forest, the royal palace has landscaped gardens and a French-style maze. Not to be missed, during the summer months are the spectacular 26 monumental fountain displays.
Visit the Royal glass factory and learn all about their glassmaking techniques. And hosting Magical Nights at La Granja festivals throughout July, August, and September, you can join in the celebrations, with music, from pop-rock to Flamenco and circus and magic performances. With so much to enjoy, the Royal Palace of La Granja is one of the most exhilarating palaces in Spain.
You can also take a guided tour to really understand the history of this Spanish palace.
The Royal Palace of Riofrio, San Ildefonso
The palace of Riofrío is surrounded by more than 600 hectares of natural forestry with a diverse variety of flora and fauna. The palace itself is simple and elegant, echoing that of classical Roman palaces. Having remained vacant for one hundred years, the palace was modified in the 1960s before being opened to the public.
Divided into two large areas, you can visit the Alfonsino Museum and the Hunting Museum. Also revived are the halls of the palace showcasing features that had been lost over the decades including a dining room with its original dumbwaiter. This most unique palace in Spain is home to over five hundred works of art, as well as scrupulously crafted furniture, French porcelain pieces, and gilded clocks.
Other Beautiful Palaces of Spain
The Royal Palace, Aranjuez
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence situated where the Tagus and Jamara rivers meet. Recognized as one of the most exceptional palaces in Spain, the palace displays an interesting variety of architectural styles. It stands amid beautiful gardens that stylishly combine statues and fountains with plants and flowers.
Learn all about how the monarchs lived with an illuminating visit to the Royal Life Museum. And a trip to the Royal Barge Museum is a must, to marvel at the most spectacular collection of recreational barges used over the centuries by the royals to cross the rivers. Definitely recommended is the tour guide if you want to see rooms that are otherwise off-limits to the general public.
Palace of Carlos V, Granada
Constructed in the 16th-century, the Palace of Carlos V is situated on the Sabika hill inside the Alhambra complex and was the first full-sized royal palace ever to have been built in Spain.
Acclaimed as a palace within a palace, the square structure contains a two-tiered circular courtyard in the magnificent Roman custom with 32 columns. The circular courtyard represents the union of heaven and earth and is the only Spanish example of a renaissance ground plan.
Whilst there, take a look upstairs where you’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts, which has a library focusing on Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures. On the ground floor, you’ll find the Museum of Alhambra with its seven halls housing exhibitions. This is a must for those interested in Islamic art culture.
The Aljaferia Palace, Aragon
This palace is situated in Zaragosa, Aragon, and was built during the second half of the 11th-century and is one of the most fortified medieval palaces in Spain. With delicately interwoven arches, coffered ceilings, and a cupola, this garrisoned Islamic palace is archetypical of Islamic architecture. The significance of this is, that it’s the only representational example from the Taifa period.
Split into three main sections, you’ll see the Golden Hall signifying nobility and splendor, with alabaster arches and a star-studded wood-paneled ceiling. Then there’s the Mosque and chapel with smooth and plant-based reinforcements. Completed by the patio of Santa Isabel, a courtyard with multi-foiled arches and a waterfall.
The Episcopal Palace, Astorga
Located in the province of Leon, the Episcopal Palace was built in the 1800s in neo-Gothic style, supposedly accentuating darkness and horror. But dark it is not.
Having been constructed out of granite, and with the mastery of architect Gaudi, the palace oozes light in every room delivering a diverse shape and view at different times of the day. This impressive architectonic work featuring four cylindrical towers makes this magnificent fairy-tale palace one of the finest palaces in Spain.
Make your way through the three twin arches at the entrance and marvel at the angels in the palace gardens. Inside, you’ll see Gaudi’s amazing stained glass windows and fine glazed ceramics in every corner. The Museum of the Ways occupies four floors of the palace and has many exhibits, including sculptures, silverware, and gold Christian worship characteristics of its times.
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La Magdalena Palace, Santander
Located at the top of the Magdalena peninsula and constructed in 1908, this modernistic neo-montanesque palace is notably one of the most emblematic palaces in Spain.
With a variety of architectural characteristics, including French and English, the palace is both slender and stylish. It’s highly recommended whilst there that you take a walk around the extensive gardens and wonder at the stunning views of the cliffs.
Step inside the palace and note such significant features as the main staircase and showcased halls. And it’s certainly worth a visit to the palace museum, which encompasses the Santander royal heritage, with collections of furniture and art. Booking an appointment is essential as the palace is host to other events such as conventions and civil weddings.
The Royal Palace of Pedralbes, Barcelona
Located in the neighborhood of Les Corts, the Royal Palace of Pedralbes is one of Barcelona’s most important monuments. The palace grounds, covering a surface area of some 30,000 m², is complemented by impressive, landscaped gardens featuring a pond with three luminous fountains, an array of plant life, and the famous Hercules fountain.
The four-story central structure, with two three-story lateral wings, and Tuscan column porches combine to make this Mudejar palace of the most majestic royal palaces in Spain.
Inside you can visit what was the bedroom and waiting room of King Alfonso XIII and his wife Victoria. There is a permanent display of decorative ceramics to admire including original ceramics by Picasso. The palace also exhibits period furniture and a collection of stained glass, gold, and silverware.
The Royal Palace of La Almudaina, Palma
Situated at an elevated position overlooking the bay of Palma in Majorca, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina was constructed over different periods.
Originally built in the 14th-century it was reconstructed in the 16th-century in Levantine Gothic style, and is one of the capital’s main attractions. Though still the official residence of the King and Queen of Spain, it is now only frequented by them for state ceremonies.
Guests can climb the Royal staircase and explore the luxurious royal apartments. And taking a leisurely walk through the three grand rooms you can admire the opulent historical furnishings and tapestries on display. Continuing your palace tour to ‘Saint Anne Chapel’ with its Pyrenean marble portal, you’ll appreciate why it’s acknowledged as one of the rarest examples of Romanesque style palaces in Spain.
Palace of Sobrellano, Comillas
Located right at the entrance of the town of Comillas, this small but magnificent neo-Gothic-style palace was the setting for the film ‘La Herencia Valdemar’. With its embellished façade and gargoyles, it exudes everything associated with fairy tale horror. With the magnificent views from the top of the palace and the wide field of grass below, this really is one of the most iconic palaces in Spain.
Visit the compelling gilded throne room, or the grand salon with its historical water-colored fresco walls, and be entranced by the sunlit double-marble staircase illuminated by stain-glassed windows. An absolute must-go and see is the famously stunning marble mausoleum which is a perfect example of the Catalan style of its time. This palace is full of beautiful artifacts that encompass the spirit of the marquises of Comillas.
Discovering Famous Palaces in Spain
The above list is just a small selection of the wonderful and majestic palaces you will discover in Spain. Visiting one or more of these palaces during your Spanish vacation has to be an added must to your agenda. Enjoy.