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Madrid

THE ROYAL PALACE, MADRID,

one of the finest in Europe, has a frontage of four hundred and seventy feet, is one hundred feet high, and built of white stone. Among the thirty rooms on the first floor, the largest and finest is the Hall of the Ambassadors. The vault was painted by Tiepolo, and represents the exaltation of the Spanish monarchs. The walls are draped with velvet embroidered with gold, and twelve immense mirrors also decorate it. On the right of the throne, which is guarded by four gilded bronze lions, is a statue of Prudence, and on the left that of Justice. The chapel is extremely rich, but not very handsome. There is also a library, a theatre, and the magnificent collection of Flemish tapestries.

Madrid  (Span. pron. Madh-reedh ´), the capital of Spain, is situated in the department of Madrid (part of the ancient province of New Castile), eight hundred and eighty miles by rail from Paris. It is built on a treeless, ill-watered plateau, on the left bank of the Manzanares, two thousand and sixty feet above the sea-level.

The Manzanares is merely a mountain-torrent falling into the Jarama, a tributary of the Tagus; water is brought from the Guadarrama Mountains by an aqueduct forty-two miles in length.

The general aspect of the city is clean and gay, while the older parts are picturesque; no trace now remains of the mediæval city. The new streets are generally fine, broad, and planted with trees; the houses well built, lofty, and inhabited by several families living in flats. A great feature is the magnificent open spaces, chief of which is the Prado, running north and south through the eastern part of the city, and, with its continuations, three miles long. It contains four handsome fountains with groups of statuary, a fine obelisk to commemorate the gallant struggle with the French (May 2, 1808), monuments to Columbus, Isabel the Catholic, etc.

The picture-gallery here, founded by Charles III., is one of the finest in Europe, and contains many of the masterpieces of Velasquez, Murillo, Raphael, Tintoretto, Rubens, Teniers, and Van Dyck. Two other parks are the Buen Retiro, the fashionable promenade on the east of the city, and the Casa de Campo on the west. Midway between its extremities the Prado is crossed at right angles by the Calle de Alcala, the finest street in the city, about a mile in length, and leading from outside the fine triumphal arch rebuilt by Charles III. to the Puerta del Sol, the square which is the heart of Madrid; here converge the principal electric lines, and in it and the streets branching off from it are situated the principal shops and places of business.

The finest square is the Plaza Mayor, formerly the scene of bull-fights; it contains a gigantic equestrian statue of Philip III., its founder. On the west of the city are the new cathedral and the royal palace; the latter, commenced in 1738 to replace the ancient Alcazar, which had been burned down, was finished in 1764 at a cost of fifteen million dollars. Other fine buildings are the palace of justice, formerly a convent; the houses of parliament; Buena Vista Palace, now the ministry of war, and the new national bank.

Besides a flourishing university, founded by Cardinal Ximenes, and two high schools, Madrid contains numerous municipal schools. Madrid is well provided with newspapers and public libraries, the chief being the National Library, with more than half a million volumes, and the library of the university.

The opera house is one of the finest in the world; all the theaters must by law be lighted by electricity. The bull ring, situated outside the gates on the east, is a solid structure seating fourteen thousand.

Iron founding and the manufacture of furniture, carriages, and fancy articles are carried on on a small scale. The manufacture of tobacco employs many persons, chiefly women. The publishing trade is important, and books are well printed and cheap. The old tapestry factory still turns out beautiful work, as do the potteries at Moncloa.

THE ESCURIAL

is thirty-two miles from Madrid. It is called by the Spaniards the eighth wonder of the world. Philip II. built it in 1685 to commemorate the taking of St. Quentin, and to accomplish a vow which he made to St. Lawrence. This vast building has fifteen principal entrances, and more than one thousand one hundred windows. It is entirely built of granite, and its appearance is monotonous and cold. It contains a church, the Capilla Mayor, filled with royal monuments, the sacristy, a vast vaulted hall with a marble altar ornamented with bronze, the choir, and the pantheon or vault, where the kings of Spain are buried. The pantheon is reached by a magnificent staircase of colored marbles. The urn containing the remains of Charles V. was opened in 1870, and the body was even then in perfect preservation. The library of books and the manuscript library attracts the attention of scholars. The main entrance to the palace is in the middle of the north façade. The Hall of Battles, is covered with frescos representing Spanish conquests; and the apartments in which Philip II. lived and died. The Pavilion of Charles IV., called the Casa del Principe, is a charming little museum of paintings, sculptures, and mosaics. The King's Seat, where Philip II. came to sit when presiding over the work of the palace, is also to be seen.