The Changing of the Guard is performed at the Royal Palace every first Wednesday of the month at midday. You'll think you've stepped into a time machine!
Behind the gates of the Royal Palace's Plaza de la Armería everyone struggles to get the best spot. The stalls in the venue have been taken long before -you have to be on the ball and get there very early- and the stairs to the Cathedral of La Almudena are packed out. The clock is about to chime and the horses can be heard trotting in the distance. It's a bright, sunny day and the rays shine off the soldiers' silver armour.
The Music Unit kicks off the Solemn Changing of the Royal Guard, which is performed every first Wednesday of the month, weather permitting, as long as it does not coincide with another official event. The strains of El Almirante, Doña Francisquita, España Cañí ring out. The fifes and drums accompany the marches, as the guards stand to attention, incoming and outgoing soldiers waiting with their weapons on their shoulders.
The lancers and cuirassiers parade with rifle companies, and soldiers -men and women- in charge of the artillery and the ammunition carriages for almost an hour. In total, 400 people and 100 horses stage the changing of the guard as it was performed in the times of Kings Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII, wearing the same uniforms.
A veritable show, which is complemented each Wednesday of the year, at 12 midday, at Puerta del Príncipe. Every half an hour (infantry) and every hour (soldiers on horseback) until 2 pm, four members of the Royal Guard are relieved of their positions, dressed in their gala uniforms -red, white and blue-.
Soldiers march to the beat of a fife (a very high-pitched piccolo used in military bands) and a drum, following official orders and commands. Cavalrymen stand to attention holding their spear or sabre, depending on whether they are lancers or cuirassiers, and -without coinciding with the infantry- they march in front of the façade of the Royal Palace.
In total there are 27 guards and six horses, which are brought from El Pardo each Wednesday morning, after being cleaned and brushed by the members of the Guard.
A different way to enjoy Madrid and its traditions.
The ceremony of the Presentation of Credentials, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, constitutes a transcendent event in a diplomat's life, since the new Accredited Ambassador and the Head of the Receiving State, HM King Juan Carlos I, promise to maintain and promote relationships of respect, cooperation and collaboration between both nations and their people. The Squadron of Royal Escorts compose the delegation of each ambassador. The party sets off from the Santa Cruz Palace, home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and travels along a set itinerary until reaching the Royal Palace in Madrid.
To make the most of this journey through time, the Madrid City Council has published a brochure in Spanish and English and the Official Guided Tours programme offers visitors guided tours to attend the Solemn Changing.
The tour takes visitors from Plaza Mayor to the Royal Palace and, after visiting the inside, invites them enjoy the Changing staged on Plaza de la Armería. Participants then head to Plaza de Oriente, opposite Puerta del Príncipe, where the Royal Guard's Music Unit performs a concert.