Once a seasonal home and hunting lodge for the royal family of Spain, this ornate palace dates back to the 15th century when its construction was ordered by King Enrique III of Castile. Its location was initially selected due to the amount of wildlife suitable for hunting in the nearby woods. It was expanded and transformed in the 16th century by architect Luis de Vega, lost in part to a fire shortly thereafter and then repeatedly renovated again in the 18th century by Carlos III. The structure doubled in size during its most recent renovation in the 20th century.
The interior is decorated with chandelier lighting as well as frescoes, tapestries, and paintings by Spanish artists. There is also original 18th century furniture still being used. General Francisco Franco famously lived here after the Spanish Civil War. Today it functions a residence for visiting heads of state. Elegant manicured gardens and small fountains line the entrance to the palace.
The palace is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (8 pm from April to September.) It can be found in the district of Fuencarral-El Pardo, just outside of Madrid. Bus 601 leaves from central Madrid for the palace, and it takes about 20 minutes to get there. Admission is 9 €, and must be with a guided tour.