Liria Palace: an immersion in the Spanish aristocracy
A new entry for art lovers who decide to go to Madrid: a few months ago Liria Palace, the richest and largest noble residence in Spain, second in size only to the Royal Palace, has opened its very rich collection to the public.
Also known as the Casa de Alba and located in the heart of Madrid, in Calle Princesa, the Liria Palace contains works of art by some of the most famous artists of the so called Siglo de Oro, antiques, furniture and collections of the highest quality, as well as a spectacular library that until now has only been open to scholars and researchers. Here, among the 18,000 volumes, you can admire the 37 testaments written by King Ferdinand the Catholic, the first edition of Don Quixote printed in Madrid in 1605, the wedding document between Isabella the Mad and Philip the Beautiful, the most important private collection of handwritten letters by Christopher Columbus as well as some maps drawn by the Italian explorer.
The Liria Palace
Thanks to a guided tour of nearly one hour, visitors walk through the 14 rooms that have remained as much as possible as they were in the years when the palace was still used as a noble residence, from the 15th century to today.
The current owner, Duke Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, son of the legendary Duchess Cayetana, has decided to keep only the second and third floors and the internal garden for himself, so visitors can only access the first floor of the residence. However, if you consider that the entire building is spread over 3,500 square meters and over 200 rooms, you will realize that one floor all to yourself is definitely enough!
The Liria Palace, as we know it today, was originally built between 1767 and 1785 by architects Louis Guilbert and Ventura Rodriguez. Heavily damaged during the Civil War, it was rebuilt in the last twenty years of the last century at the behest of the Duchess Cayetana and her family.
Visiting the collection of Liria Palace
The visit begins in the atrium of the Palace where a video on the history of the residence is shown and continues in the 14 rooms where visitors can admire works by Velazquez, Fra Angelico, Brueghel, Rubens, Tiziano, Ribera, El Greco, Chagall, tapestries from the Parisian School of Gobelin, fine 17th and 18th century porcelain, original furniture – including a desk that belonged to Napoleon. Among the works, a particular fame goes to the portrait that Goya painted for Cayetana, perhaps the most famous among the duchesses of the House who would have had a troubled relationship with the painter of the Spanish Royal Court.
Some oddities on Cayetana….
Speaking of the Dukes of Alba, it is impossible not to speak about the Cayetana, the much talked about namesake of the ancient Duchess who was Goya’s lover. Having passed away a few years ago, the Cayetana, with its over 50 titles, was the most noble noble in Europe, the only one who did not have to bow to the Queen of England. As well as her ancestor of the same name, it seems that the Cayetana too had in the past attracted the attention of a great artist. In fact, Picasso would have liked to portray her naked, but it seems that her husband’s jealousy prevented the work
Calle Princesa 20
Everyday from 9:45 am to 2 pm and from 3.45 pm to 6.30 pm
Monday afternoon closed
Whole ticket 14 €, reduced ticket 12 €
Free entrance on Monday mornig from 9.45 to 10.15
How to get to Liria Palace
Bus: lines 1, 2, 44, 74, 133, 138, C1, C2
Underground: Plaza de Espana (Lines 3, 10), Ventura Rodriguez (Line 3)
Cercanias: Principe Pio stop
Bike: those who travel with BiciMad public service can leave their bicycles nearby, at stops 14 and 116