The Gothic kings


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Palacio Real de Madrid or Royal Palace of Madrid is on the absolutely must see list, while sightseeing in Spain. The palace was built from scratch in the XVIII century after the old building was consumed by fire. (It is told that the king deliberately allowed the old palace to burn to make place for a more representative residence). Indeed, the palace is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area. It consists of 3,418 rooms. It is unfortunately forbidden to photograph the interiors. I could have indeed imagined spending long hours on making photos of the detailed artwork one can admire there on walls (most of it embroidered by hand) and on ceilings. 

Although not that decorative as the interiors, the outside design of the palace is very impressive, too. Originally, the whole upper balustrade was to be decorated by statues of saints and kings. But ultimately, a decision was made to relocate most of them elsewhere to give the building a lighter appearance. There are still a number of statues decorating the balustrade, but the most of the statues are decorating the parks and gardens around the palace.

The royal castle in Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)

The entrance to the palace from Plaza de la Armería. Above it you can see four of the statues still on the balustrade.



Plaza de Oriente, located at the right hand side of the palace if looking onto the palace from Plaza de la Armería. 

On its left and right side the Plaza de Oriente, that in fact is a park (or garden), is decorated by a row of statues, popularly known as the Gothic kings. These are statues of kings and one queen that ruled over the regions forming the present Spain in the first Millennium and in the early XI century (Visigoth rulers and rulers of the early Christian kingdoms in the Reconquista period). As the statues were designed and carved to originally decorate the balustrade of the palace, under closer inspection they lack detail. But still they are a real eye catcher. Below, the full pantheon in a small gallery of pictures.

The Gothic kings at the Plaza de Oriente.


Two of statues that still decorate the balustrade: Reccared II and Liuva II, Visigoth kings. It the middle the Spanish coat of arms. Located just above the Gothic kings at the Plaza the Oriente.


 The Sabatini Gardens, at the opposite side to the Plaza de Oriente, a location of other statues of Spanish kings originally designed to decorate the royal palace.

The royal palace is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. It is however only used for state ceremonies. The royal family neither owns the place nor lives there. The palace is owned by the Spanish State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.

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The Chopin afternoon in Warsaw


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While traveling or simple spending time somewhere, it is sometimes those simple things often unexpected at all that make the difference.

Totally unplanned, while in Warsaw (Poland) heading to one of the royal palaces midst the city centre I found myself getting of an express bus as other people did. Just so. As a courtesy for an elderly lady the driver opened the doors at a stop not in his itinerary. Ultimately, I  did not reach the royal palace. As I got out, I heard it, the piano music all around. No idea how I made it, but I have simply forgotten that if on a Summer Sunday in Warsaw and in the city centre, this is the must-be place. For the next hour or so I found myself lying on a grass and listening to a piano concert. Simply catching the momentum.

The music was by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), the most distinctive Polish composer and artist ever. He is famous for his solo piano concerts. The music is one of the kind.


Frederic Chopin statue in Warsaw Lazienki park.

If I had to make a list of must-do things, while in Poland, going to a Chopin piano concert would be on it. The easiest way to do so is indeed in Summer in Warsaw, as each Sunday there are two open air concerts in the Lazienki park open for everybody. You come in, sit down wherever you want, and listen to music.

The major event around Chopin in Poland takes however place every five years in October in the premises of the Polish National Philharmonic. The next one will be held in 2020. The competition is broadcast on domestic TV and abroad. The participants come from all over the world and all of them are superior piano players. Basically all competition run-throughs are true masterpieces.

Below some photo impressions from an open air Chopin concert in Warsaw Lazienki Park (held on 30th July this year).





The performer on that afternoon was Weronika Chodakowska, a Polish piano player.

I made a short recording during this concert. But to listen to this kind of music it is better to have better quality. Below a performance by Madame Chodakowska I found on Youtube from her another public concert in Warsaw. Just close your eyes and imagine it is Summer, the sun is shining, you sit on a soft carpet of grass in a great park and just catch the momentum.

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