Art aficionados rejoice! Arguably, the world’s foremost private art collection adorning the walls and halls of Madrid’s Liria Palace is open to visitors. Home to the 19th Duke of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, this magnificent palace was built in the 18th century and then rebuilt after suffering fire damage during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Set within a rectangular footprint, the grandeur of the neoclassical palace is amplified by the exquisite art collection housed within its walls. Art from such masters as Rubens, Goya, El Greco and Titian as well as historical documents, tapestries and sculptures have been assembled throughout the centuries by one of Spain’s most prominent families. It is a must-see for any group visiting Madrid.
For more than five hundred years, the House of Alba has been a purveyor of fine art and a steadfast supporter of the arts. Among the most significant private collections of art in Europe, the family has taken extraordinary measures to maintain the collection and ensure its legacy for generations to come. As such, the palace celebrated the opening of its doors to visitors in September. For the first time, Liria Palace is open daily for guided tours of its national treasures. Guests are accompanied in groups of 20 people or less on a tour of fourteen rooms lasting over an hour in length. Visitors are encouraged not to talk amongst themselves while on tour. Instead, each is urged to listen to the audio guide which is set to a curated musical accompaniment and contains explanation of the pieces within to fully immerse in the experience. Private tours are also available after normal operating hours. An art historian guides the private group as it moves through the music room, chapel, and gardens in addition to the main rooms.
The collection of art is astounding. Among the pieces is Peter Paul Rubens’ double portrait, Charles V and Empress Isabella of Portugal. It is the painter’s interpretation of Titian’s earlier work which is now lost. The 1653 portrait of Philip IV’s daughter, Infanta Margarita by Diego Velázquez and Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo is on display as is a Christ on the Cross by El Greco.
Francisco Goya’s, The White Duchess portrays his muse, María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba, and is one of the collection’s signature pieces.
In addition to these and other priceless masterpieces, are documents of historical importance including Christopher Columbus’s map of Hispaniola which is believed to be the first of the Americas drawn by a European. The collection also includes a first edition Don Quixote dated 1605 by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.
Book your group tour of Liria Palace online today. A visit to Madrid is not complete until you’ve experienced the grandeur of Liria Palace and inspected its treasures up close and personal.
For further information on Spain, contact the Tourist Offices of Spain.