The Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid. The palace is owned by the Spanish State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional, a public agency of the Ministry of the Presidency. The palace is located on Calle de Bailén (Bailén Street), in the Western part of downtown Madrid, East of the Manzanares River, and is accessible from the Ópera metro station. The palace is partially open to public, except when it is being used for official business.
The palace is on the site of a 9th-century fortress, called mayrit, constructed as an outpost by Muhammad I of Córdoba and inherited after 1036 by the independent Moorish Taifa of Toledo. After Madrid fell to Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, the edifice was only rarely used by the kings of Castile. In 1329, King Alfonso XI of Castile convoked the cortes of Madrid for the first time. Philip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561.
The old Alcázar ("Castle") was built on the location in the 16th century. It burned down on December 24, 1734; King Philip V ordered a new palace built on the same location. Construction spanned the years 1738 to 1755 and followed a Berniniesque design by Filippo Juvarra and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in cooperation with Ventura Rodríguez, Francesco Sabatini, and Martín Sarmiento. The new palace was occupied by Charles III in 1764.
The last monarch who lived continuously in the palace was Alfonso XIII, although Manuel Azaña, president of the Second Republic, also inhabited on it, making him the last head of state to do so. During that period the palace was known as "Palacio Nacional". There is still a room next to the Real Capilla, which is known by the name "Office of Azaña".
The palace has 135,000 square metres (1,450,000 sq ft) of floorspace and contains 2800 rooms. It is the largest palace in Europe by floor area. The interior of the palace is notable for its wealth of art, in regards to the use of all kinds of fine materials in its construction and the decoration of its rooms with artwork of all kinds, including paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez and Francisco de Goya and frescoes by Corrado Giaquinto, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Anton Raphael Mengs. Other collections of great historical and artistic importance that are preserved in the building are the Royal Armoury, Porcelain, Watches, Furniture and Silverware. Currently, the Patrimonio Nacional, an autonomous body under the Ministry of the Presidency, manages the care of public property in the service of the Crown, including the Royal Palace.