The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – Madrid, and El Pardo

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Here it is Monday and it is raining so it’s a late start. We head to Lavapies station (the yellow line) and using our ten trip tickets catch the metro to Monclao where the metro terminates under a bus station.  We go up to platform 3 to catch the bus which comes every 15 minutes. Again we use our metro ticket to ride to the Palacio Real de El Pardo (the Royal Palace of El Pardo) which is commonly referred to as “El Pardo”. The palace is about a 15 minute bus ride from the Moncloa bus station. It is the second last stop.

King Enrique/Henry III ordered the building of a hunting lodge there in 1406 in the Monte de el Pardo. The location is surrounded by green hills and a forest abundant with game so it was the ideal place for the Spanish royal family’s hunting excursions. More than a century later, Carlos/Charles V converted the building into a palace, however in March 1604, a fire destroyed most of the palace. In fact, today there is only one room in the entire palace that has remnants of a few paintings predating the 1604 fire. Most of the palace was renovated under the supervision of the architect Francisco Sabatini, hired by King Carlos/Charles III.

In the 20th century (1939-1975), the palace became the official residence of the “head of state” the dictator Francisco Franco. We took the tour which was only in Spanish therefore we did not understand anything much of the guides presentation but  towards the end of the tour, there are a few rooms that I understood included Franco’s private quarters, office and in fact El Pardo became the seat of the Spanish government. His daughter married in the small chapel on the palace’s grounds and all of his grandchildren were born there. The Franco family did not leave El Pardo until 1976, the year following Franco’s death.

Today the palace is used as a residence for visiting heads of state and some of the rooms used by the guests were on the tour. No photos were permitted but I managed two of the first internal courtyard and some of the outside. Most significant were the tapestries – probably the best condition we have seen in any palace. I have grabbed some images from the net and combined them with my own.

After visiting the Palace we went looking for the square described by our guide Enrique as having the best game restaurants in Madrid. We walked past the Garda base and Kerry enquired with a non english speaking member of the Garda who was only too happy to help – even saluted Kerry when she addressed him. He recommended El Gamo and it was only 300m down there. So we had lunch at El Gamo a restaurant recognised for its speciality in game dishes – deer, boar, rabbit. Founded in 1930 it changed hands in 1980 and is still run by that same family -the Lordon Rubio family. In true Spanish style we were served a tapas with our drinks a salad for entree and Kerry had a T-bone from Vila a nearby town and I had churrasco – grilled beef. Kerry’s steak was as expected but my dish (which I thought was going to be sausages) was a large lump of very fatty strong flavoured meat lightly grilled on a sizzle plate – not the best as it was heavily salted and fatty but interesting to try. The dish came with chips and a scotch egg. To finish we had a pineapple ice cream served frozen in half of a pineapple.

As we leave the restaurant it is raining so we catch the bus (without the trouble encountered yesterday) and return to our apartment.

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