The Palacio de Linares is the most beautiful palace of Madrid that was used as a residence and that can be seen by the public, although it is open to the public only on Saturdays and Sundays. One has to buy the tickets ahead of time in the El Corte Ingles for guided tours. The building is now owned by the foundation Casa America, which tries to foment cultural ties between Latin America and Spain.
At the end of the 19th century, the Paseo de Recoletos was the place where rich businessmen and aristocrats decided to build their palaces. The land was cleared and buildings previously constructed in the area were expropriated and demolished. The Palacio de Linares was one of these palaces built in the area, ordered by the financier Jose Murga, the Marques de Linares. His father was Mateo Murga, another wealthy financier. The father educated his son to marry only for love, without regard for the wealth or social position of the woman chosen. So Jose Murga married for love and he married Raimunda. What he did not know was that he married his half-sister, because his father had an affair with the woman selling newspapers at the kiosk, and the fruit of that relation was Raimunda. The father lived in London when his son informed him of the imminent wedding, but the heart broken father did not have the courage to tell his son the truth. In 1857, just before he died, the father wrote his son the truth. Pope Leon XIII issued a special bull allowing Jose and Raimunda to marry, but they had to remain chaste after the wedding. The couple may or may not have obeyed the Pope, but they never had children.
To alleviate his pain, Jose decided to build the most opulent palace in Madrid. It took 16 years to finish the palace, using three architects, namely Carlos Colubi, Manuel Anibal Alvarez, and Adolphe Ombrecht. The curved facade has a French design and Colubi was in charge of this, while Ombrecht was to do all the interiors. Alvarez designed the gardens and the Doll House. Jose was to live on the first floor, together with his library and his office. His wife was to live on the second floor.
The main staircase going to the second floor shocks one with its beauty and originality and was designed by Jeronimo Suñol. The balustrade is made of white Carrara marble. The paintings were done by Manuel Dominguez and there are panels on the walls that are dedicated to the Arts, the Sciences, Agriculture and Industry. Floating above them are the Muses and the vaulted ceiling depicts the Four Seasons.
The floors are made of marble of different colors, with beautiful and very intricate designs and different colors inset in marble with other colors. Many of the walls are also made of marble. The furniture is very rich and there are lamps and bronzes from Paris, Antwerp glass, and rugs from the Royal tapestry Factory of Spain. The chandeliers are spectacular and there are huge mirrors everywhere. There are also many paintings by Francisco Pradilla, Manuel Dominguez, and Alejandro Ferrant. The rugs were custom built and most of the time reflect the decorations of the ceilings. There is a large number of sculptures of bare breasted women done in gilt. The ballroom and grand dining room are spectacular. After the visit, one is in a state of shock, after seeing so much beauty. This palace is what an unlimited amount of money, interest, and the finest taste buys. Yes, it was well worth the effort!
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