Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural del Ayuntamiento de Madrid
A palace fit for the King
Of all the courtrooms of the ruined Palacio del Buen Retiro, the Salón de Reinos or the Hall of Realms is, together with the Casón, the most outstanding construction. The building of the complex began in 1633 according to the plans of the architect Alonso Carbonel and the supervision of Juan Bautista Crescenzi, and its rapid completion four years later in 1637 won the admiration of all the European Courts.
The exterior simplicity and austerity contrasted with the interior richness displayed as, together with the Alcázar, it housed the largest collection of paintings in the world. The Salón de Reinos was the space where the glories of the Spanish Monarchy were represented: Diego Velázquez was in charge of arranging the battle paintings on the side walls of the great room, in addition to the five royal portraits at the hall ends, whilst Zurbarán was tasked with the Labours of Hercules series. The sumptuous interior vault is preserved, painted al fresco with the decoration of grottos and the coats of arms of the twenty-four realms of the monarchy. Today, the incorporation of the Salón de Reinos into the Prado Museum entails recovering the original pictorial arrangement, the same one it displayed in the 17th century.
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