On Friday I once again found myself in Madrid. This time to pick up one of the most important documents I can have here in Spain, my tarjeta de N.I.E, or my identification number for foreigners. The two most important things it means for me is: I can legally live and stay here until the end of July and I can travel to any countries within Europe and return back to Spain without any problems. Basically, I am a resident of Spain.
I also did two other things I had yet to do in Madrid, I toured the Royal Palace of Madrid and I went to Retiro Park (the central park of Madrid) and saw the Crystal Palace.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is located in the western part of downtown Madrid. It is the largest Palace in all of Europe by floor space and is lavishly decorated (a little too much for me, it seems unnecessary). Normally it costs 11 euro to enter, but because I can get a student discount, it only cost 5. There are over 500 rooms in the Palace, but they only allow you to walk through a few of them. The adornment in the rooms was over the top, chandeliers hanging from every direction, tapestries and silk curtains lining the walls along with elaborate ceiling paintings in each room. My favorite rooms were the porcelain room, the royal chapel, the Stradivarius room, the dining room and the armory. The porcelain room was the most exotic room and is a small room covered from wall to ceiling in gold, white and green porcelain. The Stradivarius room houses the world’s only compete Stradivarius string quartet. It is the most extensive collection in the world and it consists of 4 off his instruments. One of which is an undecorated cello worth about 20 million . The royal chapel is the most ornately decorated room in the Palace. The ceiling is covered in a fresco surrounded by gold and the walls were lined with marble. Lastly, the armory. The armory was awesome to see. It houses the arms and armor that belonged to the Kings of Spain from the 13th C. on. It is one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. You’re are able to see the evolution of the arms and armor for royals, nights and even for the kids. The ceremonial suits and the guns were works of art. Intricately crafted with no expenses spared.
The Crystal Palace
The Palacio de Crystal is situated in Retiro Park and is an all glass structure. When I first saw it, it reminded me exactly of a building (Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton) that I learned in an architecture history class at Delaware. Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace was built for the 1851 world’s fair in France. His structure at the time, was received poorly because it was one of the first buildings to be made from prefabricated parts and assembled on location. This one however, is quite well received. It is a unique site to behold because you’re not really “in” or “out” of it. There are no boundaries between what’s outside and what’s inside and because of it’s transparency it’s seems to be harmonized with the environment.