Today we´re going to take a look at one of my favourite buildings in Madrid - the Royal Palace. I love the gardens, the views toward the Casa de Campo, the French ambiance. Taking a stroll around the grounds is a mini vacation destination that never gets old.
It´s a location with many layers of history - first an alcazar, then added to and renovated by the Hapsburgs and the Borbons, burned to the ground one Christmas Eve in a fire that destroyed lots of art (Las Meninas was saved by throwing it out a window!), fixed up by an Italian architect, and finally today´s construction, inspired by the French Chateau de Valencay, where Ferdinand VII was held prisoner (he mustn´t have minded his time in French prison too much...).
One thing I noticed is that the balustrade has space for a lot of statues (108 to be exact), but there aren´t really many up there. Instead, the statues, of former rules, are at ground level in the Central and Sabatini gardens. Others are in the Retiro Park, and still more are in cities around the country. They aren´t especially beautiful, but they are really big! There are some statues on the roof - they went up in 1973, a nod to the original plan.
Here´s where the dream comes into play: Legend has it that Isabel of Farnesio (wife of King Felipe V) had nightmares about the statues - they jumped off the roof and killed her! The night before the statues were to be placed, she had the dream again. Yikes. She begged for the plans to be altered, so the statues would be in a safer place. Skeptics of the dream say the engineers decided the statues, made out of limestone, would have been too heavy for the balustrade. Me, I´ll stick with the dream.