The Royal Collections Gallery by the Royal Palace in Madrid is exhibiting the Royal off vehicles and carriages, one of the finest in the world, which includes works from the 16th to the 20th century.
The exhibition is made up of around fifty pieces, including several carriages, vehicles, sleighs and even a travelling couchette, through which the history of the carriage in Spain and its role as a representation of regal power can be traced.
Its use by the Spanish monarchy and court began in the 16th century, when it became the fashionable means of transporting royal parties across their many estates and palaces in Spain.
Today, carriages are still used during official ceremonies, such as when incoming ambassadors present their official credentials to the king.
The vehicles on display include pieces that are unique for their beauty and advanced technology for their time, such as the Golden Berlin, from the mid-18th century; the Bronze Landó from 1829; and the Shell Carriage and the Figures Carriage, which belonged to Charles IV and Maria Luisa of Parma.
Alongside these, there are other unique items, such as Queen Isabella II’s children’s carriage and two richly decorated wooden sledges, one of them in the shape of a dragon, possibly a gift from Tsar Alexander III to Alfonso XII.
The exhibition is rounded off with two Mercedes-Benz cars, a 1939 all-terrain vehicle which was a gift from Hitler to General Franco in 1940, and the classic ‘Grosser Mercedes’ model from 1942, both of which are on display in the Historical Hall of the Royal Guard.
Furthermore, the exhibition is rounded off with objects related to the monarchs’ travels. Two travel boots from the Royal Monastery of La Encarnación, similar to those used by the monarchs on their travels, are on display.
The saddles, saddlebags, stirrups and harnesses come from the harness room at the Royal Palace in Madrid. The Prado Museum has lent seven paintings with court scenes in which the horse-drawn carriages play a special role.
The museography plays with the metaphor of the journey, as it is articulated in a central gallery from which the public can look out through large windows and contemplate the works from different points of view. Touch screens enable visitors to explore the interior of the vehicles and carriages.
The exhibition runs until June 204.