Yesterday we went to Toledo, and the day before we saw the Royal Palace (that is, the really big royal palace here in Madrid, as opposed to any of the littler ones) and went on a bus tour of Madrid.
There wasn’t much of note on the bus tour, except for the bit where we got out to take pictures of an ancient Egyptian temple (apparently Egypt gave it to Spain for as a thank-you because they helped with the Oswan dam).
The Palacio Real was – well, there’s no other way to say it – ostentatious and overdone. The walls were all covered with brocade, or porcelain, or gold vines, or . . . I found myself thinking that the amount of gold used in just one room might still have been too much even if they spread it out over all 18 or so of the rooms we saw (and that was only a fraction; we were told that there were another 18 rooms just as grand that were also used for official functions, not to mention the other 3,000+ rooms varying from guest bedrooms to kitchens to servants’ quarters. Which is not to say that I’m sorry I went. It was certainly an experience, and very impressive (even if it did nothing for my impressions of their good taste . . . in their defense, the contemporary creations of the rest of Europe were just as bad, it’s just that Spain had the money to really do it properly – which reminds you that there were about 150 years in which Spain controlled about a third of the globe). The smallest room we saw, a “saloncito,” was probably about as big as the largest room in my dad’s house, and there was a table which would seat 150 people, I think they said (I counted thirty-some on one side, and it wasn’t even fully extended . . .). We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but for your convenience I’ve found a few on Google which will give you a vague impression of the place.
This is the room that when we walked into it, I thought, Hey, comparatively, this is almost tasteful!
I don’t think that we saw any of these (except, of course, the outside), but it gives you an idea.
and there are a whole bunch of these.
We were told that the king doesn’t actually live in this palace, besides having a small apartment here if he needs it, because it’s too expensive. I’m willing to bet that the little palace he lives in is a lot more tasteful, too.
I should get ready to go now; I’ll talk about Toledo later (along with Avila and the tunas band).