The Royal Armoury collection is one of the great jewels of Spanish heritage, essential to your Royal Palace of Madrid visit. With pieces ranging from the 15th century on, it is considered to be one of the world's most important collections of its kind.
The collection dates back to the time of King Philip II, who declared that it could not be sold, as had been done before this decree. This exceptional collection of luxury weapons has been enriched and expanded over the course of several different reigns.
The most important part of the display is the armoury of Emperor Charles V, which also includes weapons having belonged to his father, Philip I, and to his grandfathers, King Ferdinand the Catholic and Emperor Maximillian I of Austria. Philip II added his personal armour to the collection in addition to the medieval weapons from the royal treasury of Trastamara, formerly located at the Alcázar of Segovia.
The collection of musical instruments includes pieces that date from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Its most important piece is the Stradivarius Royal Quartet. This is the world's most important collection of instruments crafted by the renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari. In addition, the Palace also houses another violoncello by the same creator that dates to 1700.
Other period instruments that you can see in this collection include guitars, violas and violins, organs, pump organs, pianos, trumpets and cornets, pianolas, phonographs and gramophones with their cylinders, rolls and discs, cases and containers, as well as a 19th century Chirogymnast, a device used by pianists to exercise their fingers.
If you like painting, you can't miss the canvases housed in the Royal Palace. The collection features works from some of the most important artists of their times: Goya, Velázquez, Caravaggio, Bassano, Rubens, Giordano, and Sorolla, amongst others.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of portraits of kings and nobles, such as the portrait of Philip the Good by Van der Weyden, that of Isabella the Catholic by Juan de Flandes, the collection of paintings of Charles IV and his wife Maria Luisa by Francisco de Goya, or the miniature on copper of the Count-Duke of Olivares created by Velázquez.
You can see all of the works from this royal collection on the walls of the different rooms of the Palace, as well as in the dedicated space that functions as a pictorial museum.
In addition to all of these paintings, the Royal Palace also boasts an important collection of sculptures that span several centuries and which you can see during your guided tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Of particular interest is a 17th Century series originally housed at the Royal Alcázar of Madrid, which was destroyed by fire in 1734 and upon whose foundations the current Royal Palace was erected by order of Philip V.
Some of the collection's featured sculptors include Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Mariano Benlliure, Antonie Coysevox and Agustín Querol.
One thing you will love about your visit to the Royal Palace is the good state of preservation of its furnishings.
Most of the furniture pieces are original and date to the time of the Palace's construction, as well as some that were added during later reigns. We recommend that you take a close look at all of the furnishings in the Gasparini Chamber, the Throne Room and the Hall of Mirrors, where the pieces of greatest value are kept. Also not to be missed is the imperial-style "Table of the sphinxes" in the Crown Room, on which the treaty for Spain to enter the European Union was signed, as was the abdication of King Juan Carlos I.
One of the Oriente Palace's most impressive collections is its clock and watch collection. Featuring pieces that date from the 16th to the 20th centuries, it is considered to be Spain's largest and best collection, as well as one of the world's most important.
Amongst the most notable pieces, we can highlight the watches from the rococo period crafted for Ferdinand VI by the Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, one of the most outstanding craftsmen of his time. Other pieces not to be missed on your visit include the Calvario clock, produced in Nuremberg in the 17th century, or the 1878 watch crafted using the precious materials of gold, silver and ivory, a gift to King Alfonso XIII by the president of Peru in 1906.
One of the most remarkable collections and a favourite amongst visitors to the Royal Palace is the collection of royal carriages. These carriages come from the royal family's private belongings and were collected until 1931.
The collection stands out for both the number and variety of its pieces, which date from various eras and periods. A highlight is the Carriage of the Royal Crown of Ferdinand VII, a ceremonial horse-drawn carriage that was the first carriage belonging to the Royal Stables to be equipped with double suspension, lending it great comfort.
Another interesting piece is known as the Black Carriage, a horse-drawn carriage that belonged to Queen Mariana of Austria, a clear example of the 17th century carriages made popular by the French absolutist monarch Louis XIV.
Finally, we do not want you to miss the delightful porcelain collection kept at the Royal Palace of Madrid. This collection encompasses different periods, styles and origins, which were collected by the Houses of Austria and Bourbon and were produced, among other places, in the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres (France) and the Buen Retiro Royal Factory.
The tableware pieces are the most emblematic, although they are mainly incomplete due to their fragile nature. A highlight of great beauty are the remains of the china from the wedding of Charles III to Maria Amalia of Saxony, as well as the painted china belonging to Philip V, believed to have been a collection of some 2,000 pieces, of which only 72 have been preserved.