Guide To Liria Palace, Amazing Hidden Gem in Madrid

Looking to get off the beaten path in Madrid? Let me recommend a visit to the Liria Palace!

The Neo-Classical palace is the Madrid residence of the Duke of Alba. It’s the largest and lushest private residence in the city.

It’s a feast for the senses with sculptures, tapestries, and other decorative arts.

On top of that, Liria boasts a top notch art collection, which is almost akin to a mini Prado. There are outstanding example of artworks by Velazquez, Goya, Titian, and Rubens.

In this guide to Liria Palace, I’ll tell you everything to see inside and identify the must see artistic masterpieces.

Quick Tips

  • you can only visit on a audioguided tour
  • the tour lasts 65 minutes
  • you’ll visit 15 rooms
  • you may want to pre-book a ticket
  • no photos are allowed (mine come courtesy of the palace)
facade of Liria Palace

Mini History of Liria Palace

Liria Palace is one of Madrid’s most impressive private residences, second only to the Royal Palace.

Built between 1767 and 1785 by the renowned architect Ventura Rodriguez, this Neo-Classical marvel was later modified by English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

In November 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, fires destroyed the interior of Liria Palace, leaving only its four walls standing.

Fortunately, most of the art collections were rescued and stored in various locations, including the Prado Museum.

The palace was carefully rebuilt by the 17th Duke of Alba, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart. It was later completed by the 18th Duchess, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, and her companion Luiz Martínez de Irujo.

Architect Manuel Cabanyes redesigned the chapel, main staircase, and hall while keeping the original layout.

Goya, Duchess of Alba, 1795 -- the palace's most famous painting
Goya, Duchess of Alba, 1795 — the palace’s most famous painting

Today, the Liria Palace is the private residence of the 19th Duke of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart. It houses one of the world’s most valuable private art collections, dating back to the 17th century.

The palace opened to the public in September 2019. It’s still well off the beaten path for many tourists.

You might not even have heard of it! But it’s well worth a visit in my opinion, especially for art lovers.

Guide To Liria Palace: What To See

Entry Hall

This is the first room you’ll enter. It’s Neo-Classical in style, with Tuscan order pilasters.

Niches hold busts of the Alba family. A fine floor mosaic depicts the intertwined arms of the houses of Berwick and Alba.

You’ll also see a busts of Napoleon and Eugenie, an 18th century Neapolitan table with inlaid pearl, and porcelain vases.

This is where you’ll listen to a short video about the Alba family before proceeding.

main staircase

Main Staircase

The main staircase in Liria Palace is a grand and elegant feature. Every room is arranged around it, in classical harmony.

Redesigned by architect Manuel Cabanyes during the palace’s reconstruction, the staircase boasts straight, wide steps made of rich marble, creating a striking focal point within the interior. 

On the landings, you’ll find an 18th century painted Spanish litter and several sculptures, including a Venus de’ Medici.

When you reach the top, there’s an entablature with Ionic pilasters and columns. On the walls are paintings, tapestries, and a 1st century B.C. Aphrodite sculpture.

This sculpture is the most important archaeological piece in the palace.

Stuart Room

Stuart Room/Antechamber

You’ll first enter the Stuart Room. It’s presided over by a magnificent tapestry.

It’s the oldest piece in the Alba collection, dating from 1485. The tapestry belonged to a series on the theme of the Trojan War, and was created by Pasquier Grenier.

The canvases in the room depict various members of the Stuart branch of the House of Alba.

By far the most significant is a 16th century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. At that point, she had been imprisoned by Elizabeth I for ten years.

There are also several Italian console tables from the 18th and 19th centuries. Some have inlaid stone tops and others have mermaid and merman shaped marble bases.

Rubens, Charles V and Empress Isabella of Portugal, 1628
Rubens, Charles V and Empress Isabella of Portugal, 1628

Flemish Room

This room features 30 fine paintings by the Flemish and Dutch schools. They’re hung under a blue ceiling and blue/green encrusted chandelier.

One of the most outstanding is a portrait of Charles V and Empress Isabella of Portugal, a masterpiece by Rubens. It’s a copy of a Titian painting from 1547.

The room has other paintings by Rubens, including a portrait of Philip IV and a rendering of the young Bathsheba.

There are also paintings by Brueghel the Elder, David Teniers the Younger, and Jacob van Ruisdael. And personal photos of the Alba family.

Grand Duke of Alba Room

This room recalls the figure of the 3rd Duke of Alba. Several paintings commemorate his family.

There’s a gorgeous tapestry that shows the duke on horseback, driving home a military victory.

There are several other depictions of the duke — a famous Rubens portrait copied from another lost Titian and a portrait bust that is possibly by Titian.

Velazquez, Infanta Margarita, 1653
Velazquez, Infanta Margarita, 1653

Spanish Salon

The Spanish Room houses a wonderful selection of works by the greatest masters of the Spanish Golden Age — Ribera, Velazquez, Zurburan, and El Greco.

The most striking 17th century painting in the room is Velazquez’ portrait of Infanta Margarita.

She also appears in his most famous painting, Las Meninas, in the Prado Museum. In this one, he uses a freer touch with color, capturing her expression in a more direct way.

Other important pieces are Murillo’s portrait of Canan Juan de Miranda and El Greco’s Christ on a Cross. And there’s a piece by the most famous female artist of the day, Lavinia Fontana.

Zuloaga Room

This room is named after three large portraits painted by Ignacio Zuloaga. They depict the 17th Duke of Alba, his wife, and their daughter.

The duke is shown at full length, wearing a knight’s uniform. His wife is shown in Spanish dress, in a painting reminiscent of Goya’s famous duchess.

His daughter, who became the 18th Duchess of Alba, was a driving force behind the reconstruction and restoration of Liria Palace.

There are also some excellent drawings by John Singer Sargent, acquired by the duke.

Italian Room

Italian Room

This room is a tribute to the 14th Duke of Alba. He acquired most of the room’s artworks.

The room has a lovely selection of paintings from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. There are pieces by Perugino, Fra Bartolomeo, Luca Giordano, Andrea del Sarto, Guido Reni, Titian, and Guercino.

Titian is the creator of the portrait of Federico Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and the painting ofThe Last Supper.

Goya Room
Goya Room

Goya Room

This room takes its name from two magnificent paintings by Goya.

The first is a portrait of Maria del Pilar of Toledo. The second is the Duchess in White.

It’s an exquisite portrait of the 13th Duchess of Alba when she was 33, and undoubtedly the most famous work at the palace.

She was one of the wealthiest women in Spain, with a vast array of titles, estates, and properties. She became a living legend and was also the subject of widespread rumors due to her colorful personal life, including speculation that she had an affair with Goya.

There are also five magnificent portraits by Anton Raphael Mengs, one of the greatest painters of his day. The best is an exceptional self portrait.

There’s also some beautiful furniture in the room, including an Emprie style desk and a pair of Louis XVI cabinets.

dining room
dining room

Dining Room

The dining room has reconstructed in an almost perfect replica of the original.

Its four walls hold colorful tapestries, woven at the Gobelins factory. They depict Spanish expeditions into new regions.

Hall of the Loves of the Gods

This room is a frothy concoction of pink, green, and ivory.

It’s named after three Gobelins tapestries from the series The Loves of the Gods. They’re based on cartoons by Francois Boucher, a Rococo painter famous for his pastoral scenes.

There are important pieces of furniture, including a Louis XVI style commode, a Louis XV table, and a Rococo commode. There are also many Meissen porcelain pieces on display.

Winterhalter portrait
Winterhalter portrait


The ballroom is immense! The mirrors, paintings, tapestries, and Rococo gilding recreate the atmosphere of the Second Empire.

The yellow upholstered furniture, porcelain objects, and Sevres vase all underscore the room’s personality.

The Gobelins tapestries are based on canvases by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, a famous Second Empire painter. And there are two portraits by the same artist, depicting the 9th Duchess of Alba.

Room of Empress Eugenie

This room is a study of ivory and beige. The richly inlaid furniture matches the Aubusson tapestries hanging on practically every wall.

There are another two paintings by Winterhalter. The most important is the portrait of Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III.


The palace also has a large library onsite. It’s located by the main entrance hall and it’s the last room you’ll visit.

You may think you’re encased in green marble, but it’s actually stucco.

You’ll find some rare things — the Alba Bible from 1430, handwritten work from Christopher Columbus (the largest collection in the world), a 1605 first edition of Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes, and letters from historical characters like Alexandre Dumas.

gardens of the Liria Palace
gardens of the Liria Palace

Tips For Visiting Liria Palace

Address: Calle de la Princesa, 20, 28008 Madrid


  • Monday: tours from 10:15 to 12:30.
  • Tuesday to Sunday: tours from 10:15 to 12:30 and from 4:15 to 6:15.


16 euros for audioguided tour, temporary exhibition 10 euros. Tours start every 15 to 30 minutes. 

I rolled up with no problem or line to visit in March. But in high season, you may want to pre-book a tour.

Though the museum is unknown to most Americans, it’s very popular with the Spanish citizens. On my visit, I was the only English speaking person.

Pro Tip: There’s a gift shop and cafe. But neither are very noteworthy.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to Liria Palace. You may find these other Madrid travel guides useful:

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