SACCHETTI, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1690, Torino, d. 1764, Madrid)
Royal Palace, Madrid
After the Madrid Alcázar and most of its interior had been destroyed by fire in 1734, the construction of a new palace (the Palacio Real) became a major objective. In 1735, Philip V commissioned Filippo Juvarra to prepare plans for the new building. He produced a scheme for a monumental complex larger than Versailles in size, to be situated outside the city. The project was never realized, partly because of Juvarra's death. His successor, Giovanni Battista Sacchetti, altered Juvarra's plans and built the present palace, a closed four-wing edifice with internal courtyard and corner pavilions, which remained true to the tradition of the Spanish 'alcázar'.
The structure of the façades combined elements of French and Italian court architecture: from a high square base which forms the ground floor and mezzanine, the three storeys of state apartments rise behind the giant columns and pilasters. An overhanging entablature concealing two further storeys completed the massive structure, designed to be viewed from a distance. The internal layout followed the contemporary French design.
In spite of the efforts to give the Palacio Real a contemporary exterior, its origin as a fortress were still very much evident. Up to the present day it still dominates the Manzanares valley, and has little direct connection with the city.
The picture shows the principal façade on the Plaza de las Armas.