Friday, 25 August 2017

Royal Palace of Madrid, Almudena Cathedral and Plaza de Oriente

We stayed in Hotel Palacio de los Duques, which is only some 15 mins away from the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid). I would be remiss to miss it.

In front of the Royal Palace is the Plaza de Oriente (Oriental Square). This is where we walked through to get to the Royal Palace proper. It's actually sandwiched between the Royal Theatre and the Royal Palace.

Dunno if the "Oriente" refers to the "Middle East", or the "Far East" like China or Japan. I suspect the former. Regardless, i couldn't see any evidence of either. I must be missing something.

A fountain among the greens of Plaza de Oriente

Monument to Philip IV, Plaza de Oriente, Madrid, Spain
Statue, Plaza de Oriente, Madrid, Spain
Top:  Statues that franked the main avenue.
Left:  Philip IV on horseback.


Panorama, Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
Panorama, Royal Palace


Facade, Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
Facade, Royal Palace

If you don't want to look at the Palace Guards stand motionless like robots, you may want to see the Changing of the Guards where they move like mechanical robots. Who doesn't want to see that?

We arrived just a few minutes when the Changing of the Guard started its rounds. We were just lucky.




According to an official website, this is their schedule: "Every Wednesday and Saturday of the year from 11 am to 2 pm (except July, August and September: from 10 am to 12 noon, and those days on which an official act is being held or weather permitting)".


We were prepared to visit the Palace, but when i saw the queue for the Palace. Which looked like an anaconda to me. The fear of "queuing to see a palace" (there should be a name for this fear as it's such a common affliction among travelers) was born in my 1st visit to the Palace of Versaille in Paris. There was where i experienced 1st time the 1st hand displeasure of standing in a 1.2km queue (the link above shows how i calculate the length of the queue as made good use of our waiting). The virgin shock of the Great Visitor Queue of Versaille was reinforced by the following year when i visited the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The queue was shorter, but the condition was made stronger with a large sprinkle of rain, few gusts of freezing wind, and an usual pinch of nature call.

Visitor queue to enter the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
Visitor queue to enter the palace

Actually the queue was only some 50m long here, and the sun was shining as usual (as per Catholic blessed sunny Mediterranean country), which should silence my deafening nature call. But nothing scares me away like the sight of an anaconda line (don't get confused with conga line). I gave the palace beeline conga line anaconda the flick. It's a case of twice bitten, thrice shy. I could only comfort myself that once i've seen 12 European palaces, i've seen them all.

Courtyard,  Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
A peek of the Palace Courtyard from outside the gate.

Gate, the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain Facade, the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain


Rather than leaving the Palace empty handed, we decided to visit its neighbour Almudena Cathedral instead. With the ticket, we could get to see a museum that housed inside the cathedral, got to its rooftop to gain a panorama of the surrounding and the Palace, as well as the backs of the heroes of saints of the Bible.

Entry ticket, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain


Facade, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Almudena Cathedral and its dome. This beeline is for the Palace, not the Cathedral.


Belltowers, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain



The 2 most important Christ's Apostles - Peter and Paul - adorning near the entrance to the Cathedral (although Paul is  2 Man/Saint/Apostle/VIP, he's the more important of the 2 because he was the 1 who spreads the words of Christ by compiling the New Testament (with plenty of artistic license, according some Bible historians)).

Statues, St Peter and St Paul, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain

St Michael slaying Satan, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Statue of "St. Michael slaying Satan"

The statue of "St. Michael (or San Miguel since we're in Spain) killing Satan" perches precariously on a ledge. But if you're telling me that i'm mistaken St. Gabriel for St, Michael, i won't defend myself about this Defender of the Church. Both are archangels, and both have the same depictions of slaying Satan (which there's only 1. So surely only 1 of them can claim to be the Satan Slayer? So whodunit? Was it the verger with a candlestick? Or the cook with a monkey wrench (a knife seems too obvious)? Did Satan reincarnate? (Oops, wrong religion). It's a mystery in Biblical proportion (or as Winston Churchill who didn't really say, "It's a riddle wrapped in the Bible inside Christianity").

Aerial View from Almudena Cathedral of the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
The Royal Palace as viewed from the mezzanine of the Cathedral. Note its shadow cast on the ground.



The rooftop (which located just below the dome) that the visitors can access and view are in square shape with its sides facing almost precisely the 4 cardinal directions. (FYI: the cathedral is built along the north-south axis with its altar at the south. This is a practical but atypical architectural plan for a church).

Panorama from the southern face of , Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain. Basilica of San Francisco el Grande can be spotted in the centre
Panorama from the southern face. Basilica of San Francisco el Grande can be spotted in the centre.
(Click photo to enlarge)

Aerial close-up of San Francisco el Grande as view from Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Aerial close-up of San Francisco el Grande

Statues of saints and Biblical heroes adorn atop the fence of the rooftop at inter-cardinal points.

Statue, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain Statue, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain Statue, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain

Statue, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain


Rooftop's vista towards West with River Manzanares running across the middle of the photo toward the top. The bushy area between he river and me is the Palace Garden Jardins del Campo del Moro. The green area in the middle of the right of the photo is Temple of Debod, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Rooftop's vista towards West with River Manzanares running across the middle of the photo toward the top.
The bushy area between he river and me is the Palace Garden Jardins del Campo del Moro.
The green area in the middle of the right of the photo is Temple of Debod where i visited a day earlier.
(Click photo to enlarge)


Eastern vista towards city centre with some prominent churches' architectures dominate the skyline, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Eastern vista towards city centre with some prominent churches' architectures dominate the skyline.

 , Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain Close-up of some of the church buildings. The closest church in the foreground is Iglesia del Sacramento (Church of the Sacrament ). It's a military church., Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Close-up of some of the church buildings.
The closest church in the foreground is Iglesia del Sacramento (Church of the Sacrament ). It's a military church.


North facing view of the main facade of the cathedral and the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
North facing view of the main facade of the cathedral and the Royal Palace

Ceiling of the dome, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain
Ceiling of the dome
Oh, did i mention there's a museum inside this place?



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