Madrid is today the hub of Spain’s political, economic and cultural life: its streets and attractions retrace its history, while its numerous parks and green spaces give visitors a break. Madrid’s Royal Palace and the three museums known as the ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ (including the Museo del Prado and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia) are part of the city’s art-historical heritage, along with many other iconic sites, such as Puerta del Sol or Cervantes’ House.
Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid with online tickets
If you want to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, you can buy your tickets in advance, so that you can skip the queue at the entrance controls and not waste time: you will need quite a bit of time to explore this colossal palace.
Tickets to the Royal Palace of Madrid entitle you to an information leaflet (downloadable to your smartphone or tablet) about the palace and its surroundings, and, if you select it at the time of booking, a digital, interactive tablet-based audio guide. Entrance and visits are facilitated for wheelchair users and rescheduling is only possible if the appropriate option is selected when booking. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Sundays.
VISITING THE ROYAL PALACE OF MADRID
The curious may wonder if anyone still lives in the Royal Palace in Madrid today. Although it is still the official residence of the Spanish royal family, it is now only used for ceremonies, conferences and official acts.
The palace is the largest royal residence in Europe, with its 3418 rooms, built in the 18th century to a design by architect Filippo Juvarra. It stands directly above the Alcazar built in the 9th century and destroyed by fire in 1734; it had become a royal palace with the rise of Alfonso VI in the 16th century, following the fall of the Moors.
The online ticket gives access to the interiors of the Royal Palace of Madrid, such as the Hall of Columns, the Throne Room, the Banquet Hall or the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Armoury and the works housed in the palace itself, by artists such as Caravaggio, Goya and Velázquez. It does not, however, give access to the royal gardens or the kitchen.
Given the size of the palace, it is best to allow about 45 minutes to visit the rooms and half an hour for the Armoury and bear in mind that, precisely because of this, entry is possible up to an hour before closing time.
Ticket for the Royal Palace and Prado Museum
Besides the Royal Palace, Madrid’s museums are unmissable stops on a visit to the Spanish capital. With the tour combining the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum, it will not only be possible to visit the residence of the sovereigns of Spain and iconic works of European art history, but also to take a stroll through the city’s main sights, such as Puerta del Sol, the Cervantes House and the Neptune Fountain.
Starting with the works in the Prado Museum, the tour, which can last up to five hours, will continue through the streets of Madrid, stopping at the most important monuments and ending with a visit to the Royal Palace. The ticket includes the guide (in Spanish and English) and headphones to listen to the guide during the visit. The combined ticket allows you to skip the line at the entrance to both the palace and the museum and is free of charge.
In addition to Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael and leading exponents of Flemish painting (Bruegel the Elder, Bosch, Rembrandt), it will be possible to see Goya, Velázquez, Murillo at the Prado Museum: a full immersion in Spanish, Italian and Flemish art.
Single ticket for Palais eeale, Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum
Another option to see more attractions at a bargain price is the combined ticket for the Royal Palace, Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum. The three tickets are independent in terms of days and times, but if purchased together they give a discount compared to single entries.
The Royal Palace is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Sunday, admission is also possible for wheelchair users, and, if you book online, you have the option of skipping the queue; the visit is independent, i.e. without a guide, and includes the many rooms of the palace and the Armoury, but not the gardens or the kitchen.
The ticket for the Prado Museum, home to works that are fundamental and iconic to European history, gives skip-the-line access to the exhibition halls, every day from 10am to 8pm, except Sunday, which is the closing day. Entry is permitted until 7.30 pm.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE REINA SOFIA MUSEUM
The Reina Sofia Museum, on the other hand, is open Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.; Tuesdays are closed. Access to this museum is also possible for wheelchair users and the ticket gives access to both the permanent and temporary collections.
A former 18th century hospital renovated in the late 1980s, since 1992 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia has been home to the main Spanish artists of the 20th century. What to see at the Reina Sofia Museum, then? Picasso above all, but also Miró, Dali, Rothko, Magritte: the focus is on 20th century Spanish art, but there is also much more and the works are organised thematically.
Certainly many visitors stop here to see Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, a symbolic depiction of the bombing of the Basque town of the same name, and with that, of the horrors and injustices of war.
The Museo del Prado, together with the Museo Reina Sofia and the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, forms the so-called ‘Golden Triangle of Art’, which recently (2021) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.