The Palacio de Liria is the official residence of the House of Alba in the city of Madrid. It is a palace that is located on the popular calle de la Princesa and that has to its credit the consideration of being the largest private residence in Madrid.
A palace with a lot of history
The Palacio de Liria is one of the most impressive historical buildings in Madrid. And it is not only the official residence of the current Duke of Alba, but it is also home to the family’s historical archive and a space that amazes with its majesty and grandeur.
Built in the 18th century, replaced the Palacio de Buenavista as the official residence of this noble family in the capital of Spain. It all happened when the Duchess of Alba, Doña Cayetana XIII, died without issue and the family line passed to the Berwick house.
Its construction is due to the French Louis Guilbert and the Spanish Ventura Rodrígues, who designed this magnificent residence for the Dukes of Berwick. A noble house of English origin that arrived in Spain at the hands of King Felipe V who granted them the dukedom of Liria and Jérica.
Some of the great events in the country’s history have taken place there, and personalities such as Howard Carter, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt have walked through its hallsOscar Wilde, Igor Stravinski, Ortega y Gasset or Charlie Chaplin, among others.
The Liria Palace, a palace in the style small hotel
For its construction, Louis Guilbert, its main architect, was based on the so fashionable small hotel of that moment. Thus, projected an urban residence that was destined for the lodging of the family and the servants, but only when his presence was required in the city, for business or visits.
Nevertheless, it seems that the performance of this French architect was not the most appropriate, and cracks and stability problems soon appeared. For this reason, the work would have been entrusted to Ventura Rodríguez, although this has not yet been fully verified.
What is true is that he was so admired and valued that he was considered ‘the little brother of the Royal Palace’. It is a neoclassical-style building with a rectangular floor plan and beautiful gardens around it. This has gone through several reforms, transformations and reconstructions.
Specifically, a modification was made to the main staircase by the English architect Sir. Edwin Lutyens. Also, an almost total reconstruction was carried out after it was left practically destroyed after the bombings and the fire it suffered during the Spanish Civil War.
Its reconstruction was carried out by the architect Manuel Cabanyes, who was under the orders of the Duchess Cayetana de Alba and her husband Luis Martínez de Irujo.
The collection of works of art
The art collection housed in the Palacio de Liria is impressive. It is one of the most important private art collections in the world, fruit of the work of collecting and patronage that the Dukes of Alba have carried out for more than 500 years.
In her, It is worth noting the existence of paintings by some of the main artists of all history. Among them, Goya, Velázquez, Murillo, Zurbarán, Greco, Ribera, Rubens, Titian, Palma the Elder, Brueghel de Velours, Madrazo and Winterhalter. All are accompanied by furniture of exquisite delicacy, tapestries, sculptures and decorative arts.
In addition, its historical archive and its library also stand out; the latter can be visited and has more than 18,000 volumes. In her, you can find the Bible of the Casa de Alba, some autograph letters of Christopher Columbus, the last testament of Fernando el Católico or the first edition of El Quijote de Madrid from 1605. Jewels that you cannot miss.
Visit the Liria Palace
It was opened to the public on September 19, 2019 and the visit aims to be a complete sensory experience. Thus, it will be based on a well-studied route, in which the music, the words and the voices that give life to the historical figures who have passed through the halls of the palace and the images envelop the visitor.
Finally, there is also the possibility of private visits in groups of 20 people that include an art historian guide or an extended tour that includes the palace, the chapel, the gardens and the music room.