Neoclassical grandeur on an epic scale.
Be prepared for a visual onslaught at the 18th-century royal palace, where the opulent decoration bombards your senses at every turn. Today's royals prefer a low-key profile, and live in a more modest palace outside Madrid. The royal palace is, however, used for official ceremonies, when it is closed to the public - this can be as often as once a week, so check before visiting.
The palace stands on the site of the Alcazar, the fortress built by the Arabs in the 9th century. You can see why they chose this location, as the view stretches for miles.
As well as the endless lavish rooms of the palace itself, you can also visit the Royal Armoury, where weapons and armour used by the royals over the centuries are displayed - a lot more interesting than it sounds! You can also visit the Royal Pharmacy. Alongside the palace are the Sabatini Gardens, where concerts are staged in summer, while the Moro Gardens stretch down the hill towards the river Manzanares. On the south side of the palace is the Almudena Cathedral, and just beyond that are some remains of the Arab and Christian town walls.