In proper palace style, majestic gardens full of beauty and history surround the palace on three of its four sides; its southern side looks out across the Plaza de Armas at the Almudena Cathedral. Below we'll go into a bit of detail about each of the gardens: the dignified Plaza del Oriente, the pretty Jardines de Sabatini and, last but certainly not least, the sprawling Campo del Moro. Read our guided tour of the Royal Palace Gardens and find out for yourself!
Royal Palace Gardens: Plaza del Oriente
Directly in front of the palace's eastern side you'll find the very pretty Plaza del Oriente, on the opposite side of which is located Madrid's opera house. A bronze equestrian statue of Felipe IV dominates the very center of the plaza and the rest of the space is filled with neatly-trimmed hedges, fountains, flowers, walkways and statues of past monarchs and nobles. In addition to the palace and the opera house, the semicircular plaza is lined by pretty building façades in an array of pastels and with wrought-iron balconies. Centuries ago, the Plaza de Oriente was the site of the old Alcazar until it burned down in 1734. In teh 19th century, José Bonaparte cleared the area to give the palace's immediate surroundings more space and a more dignified appearance.
Royal Palace Gardens: Jardines de Sabatini
This formal, French-style garden was created in the 1930's and opened to the public in 1978 by King Juan Carlos I upon what had been the site of the royal stables; in fact, the garden is named after the 18th-century architect who designed these stables, amongst other parts of the palace. Now its a smallish but pretty place to stroll and relax amongst its symmetric, geometricl patterns of fountains, manicured shrubs and statues.
Royal Palace Gardens: Campo del Moro
The most impressive of the Royal Palace gardens is also likely the least-known and least-visited, as its entrance is on the far side and well out of the way of most tourism itineraries. The Campo del Moro is located directly behind the palace, where you can enjoy shady paths, pretty fountains, roaming peacocks and an esthetic that combines Romantic-style gardens with touches of English-style garden landscaping. As for the name, the Campo del Moro (Field of the Moor) is so named because it was where the Muslim army camped before their early 12th-century attack attempting - unsuccessfully - to retake the Alcazar. Felipe IV was the first to start developing the space, but the Campo del Moro took on its present look in the 1890's under Doña María Cristina de Habsburgo.