The Royal Palace of El Pardo is a historic building near Madrid, in the present-day district of Fuencarral-El Pardo. It is owned by the Spanish state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional agency.
The palace began as a royal hunting lodge. It became an alternative residence of the kings of Spain until the reign of King Alfonso XII of Spain, who died in the palace in 1885.
King Henry III of Castile ordered the building of the pavilion in 1406, on Mount El Pardo, because of its abundant game. Later, in the time of Emperor Charles V (1547), it was transformed into a palace by the architect Luis de Vega. On 13 March 1604, a massive fire destroyed many of the paintings, including masterpieces by Titian. King Charles III of Spain renovated the building in the 18th century, appointing his architect Francesco Sabatini to undertake the job. It was newly transformed in the 20th century, doubling in size with the construction of an identical copy of the original structure to the east.
The interior decoration includes a ceiling frescoed by Gaspar Becerra, and paintings by Vincenzo Carducci and Cabrera.
In 1739 the palace hosted talks between the governments of Britain and Spain, who eventually agreed to the Convention of Pardo in a bid to avert a war. However, the Convention failed to prevent war breaking out shortly afterwards.
Generalissimo Francisco Franco lived in the palace after the Spanish Civil War. Since Franco's death, it has been used as a residence for visiting heads of state.
The Palace of Zarzuela forms part of the complex of residences at the site.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.