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Fernan Nuñez Palace

The Fernan Nuñez Palace is located at calle Santa Isabel 44 ,close to the Reina Sofia

Façade of the palace

Museum and next to the Convent of Saint Isabel.

The convent was built in the beginning of the XVIIth century on a ground which belonged to Antonio Perez, secretary to Felipe II. The convent can be seen on the famous map made by Texeira. The church was built some time later.

The Fernan Nuñez Family

The first count of Fernan Nuñez was Alonso Estacio Gutiérrez de los Ríos y Angulo who received the title from Felipe IV in 1639. It was probably this count who gave part of his land to the conde duque de Olivares, Felipe IV´s minister, in order to have an open space for the people in the court. This are was to become the Retiro Park.

The first duke of Fernan Nuñez (1779- 1822), who received the title from Fernando VII , was Carlos José Francisco de Paula Gutiérrez de los Ríos y Sarmiento. He was a diplomat and took part at the Congress in Vienna.

The Retiro Park has a street named after the Duke of Fernan Nuñez. In this street is the

Entrance to the palace

famous statue, the Fallen Angel by Bellver, dedicated to the devil. This statue was made in 1874 after a project by the duke of Fernan Nuñez.

The Fernan Nuñez family was one of the wealthiest and best known in the country. Due to their hability in arranging marriages they increased the number of titles. They organized balls and dinners attended by the most important people of the country including the king.

The building

Next to the convent of Saint Isabel where some terrains which belonged to Blas Jover , minister of Fernando VI. In 1753 he built a house.

Cardinal de la Cerda bought the house from the heirs of Blas Jover in 1764. The XIII duke of Alburquerque bought it in 1769.

Cervellon Palace

It seems that the first works of the future Cervellon Palace started in 1790. The architect

Staircase

was Antonio Lopez Aguado. The palace was finished in 1799. Other works by Antonio Lopez are the Puerta de Toledo, the project of the Royal Theater and the design of El Capricho Park. His style is restrainted, looking for symmetry and balance, characteristics of neoclassicism. The palace has three floors and basement. On the first floor were the rooms dedicated to receive visitors and the private and summer rooms next to the garden.

On the first floor was the duke´s bedroom, the ball room and several other rooms with official purposes.

On the upper floor were the rooms for the servants.

The house belonged to the Alburquerque family until 1811 when the last duke died without heirs. So the palace went to the count of Cervellon, belonging to a branch of the family.

Now the palace was occupied by the count´s sister, María Magdalena de la Cueva Velasco y de la Cerda, VI marchioness of la Mina and XV duchess of Alburquerque married to the IV count of Cervellón, Felipe Osorio y Castelví. Their son married Francisca Gutiérrez de los Ríos, II duchess of Fernan Nuñez.

Fernan Nuñez Palace

Between the palace and the convent was a small building which they decided to demolish in

Stucco Room

order to link this space with the palace. The architect was Martin Lopez Aguado, son of the first architect. He maintained the classic style in the façace but decorated the interior following the romantic taste.

It is a building following the romantic style of the XIXth century. Afterwards, in 1905 some changes were added like the window panels in the loggia.

On the outside some typical romantic decorations were added like garlands, rosettes or musical images like the first staircase. Its balustrade has the form of a lyre.

In 1941 the palace was bought by the Railway Company (Compañía de Ferrocarriles del Oeste de España y Red de Andaluces) and since 1985 the foundation, Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles, is located in the palace.

This institution looks after its historical, cultural, scientific and tecnological railway patrimony, restoring, guarding and spreading it. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and the use of the railway through all kinds of activities: cultural, investigation and training, technological services, recovery and alternative use of the railway patrimony (Vias Verdes Program), periodical publications and specialized books. It also looks after the library, the historical railway archive and the Railway Documentation Center, as well as the Railway Museums in Madrid and in Vilanova I la Geltru in Barcelona (Catalonia).

Access

A wide carriage entrance opens onto the main undercover yard. The ground floor as well as

Column Room

the rear of the house are currently offices. Only the main staircase and the rooms on the first floor maintain their original state.

From the entrance one accesses the main floor through a staircase. Its balustrade has the form of a lyre. The staircase is not in the center of the entrance, but on the right side. Next to where it starts there is a small mirror used by the ladies to check if their garment was correct.

The two flights were carpeted in white.

Main Floor

The staircase leads to the Stucco Room which opens on to the rest of rooms on this floor. In this anterroom used to be an equestrian portrait of Francisco de Orozco , third marquise of Montaray by Velázquez .

On this floor there is the Column Room in Corinthian style with lavish decoration. In the center a mahogany table.

In the former bedroom a Murano lamp and tapestry made in the Royal Tapestry Factory of Saint Barbara. There used to be a bed in the center of room with a silken blue-yellow canopy with coloured embroidery. On one side a crimson velvet curtain and on the other a green folding screen with drawings by famous painters. There was also a kneeler. On the walls paintings of the duke´s ancestors.

Next to the bedroom the dressing room, also with a Murano lamp. Currently it is used as

Former Bedroom

meeting room.

The duchess used to be in following room. On the walls were paintings of members of the family, among them one of the duchess of Alba, daughter of the Fernan Nuñez´. On both sides of the chimney were the legs of two wild boars hunt by the duchess.

From several of these rooms one can see the interior garden. The origin of these type of gardens came from Italy and its country villas. The idea was to recreate them in the city.

The Pink Room got its name from the fabric on its walls. There used to be a billard table. On one of the walls a painting of the Virgen and the Child by Murillo. Now there is a painting by Ramon Bayeu, a deposit from the Prado museum.

The Yellow Room or Mirror Room was dedicated to music.

Isabelino Room

The Isabelino Room connects the main dining room and the ball room. The furniture is from the times of Isabel II. On the walls paintings by Vicente Palmaroli, representing springtime. Carrara marble chimney. It is said that this was Queen Isabel II favourite room when she came to the palace.

The next room is the small Dining Room. On the walls are copies of paintings by Goya. There is a door on the side which led directly to the kitchen. This was somenthing completely new and a way of avoiding eating cold dishes. On the walls were paintings by Marco del Fiori .

In the Main Dining Room is enough space for about 16 people. The table is made of walnut and was bought at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867. At one end of the room a Carrara marble chinmey. A Baccarat lamp and fabric on the walls with petit point. There used to be a sideboard with carved birds.

The Ball Room shows French influence in its decoration. The yellow colour was used to make it look bigger. Baccarat lamps hanging from the ceiling and paintings by Vicente Palmaroli. Wooden stools with yellow silk seats as well as yellow curtains.

Above the entrance door we can see the family coat of arms. Over the coat of arms was

Ball Room

the room for the orchestra. The parties held at the palace were famous all over the country, specially those in fancy dresses when the royal family also attended the party and the most important families wanted to be seen at the event. On the ceiling there are some holes which were used to heat the room. The floor is made of different types of wood.

The Red or Goya Room had several paintings of the counts of Fernan Nuñez. The furniture and curtains were of red damask silk. It was the duke´s office.

In the interior of this floor there is the loggia which was made in 1905. It was made in iron and glass and allowed them to have a lot of exotic plants and trees. It also made it easier for those attending the parties, sometimes about 600 people, to walk from one room to another.

In the last years of the XVIIIth century there were many plants and trees in this gallery. There were paitings on the walls and several statues on pedestals.

Ground Floor

From the billard room two sliding door give access to an oak staircase which led downstairs

Oak Staircase

to the duke´s private rooms. On the walls were tapestries with scenes from Don Quixote. The handrail had carved palms and flowers intertwining the initials F.N. and the coats of arms. It was made by Antonio Jorge.

Downstarirs was a room with antique tapestrie and furniture. The duke had arms of different ages, several chests and countless items collected for a long time. Two portraits of the duke´s horses, 'Diletto' y 'Pagnotte' that took part in horse races.

The next room also had tapestry, this time red, with a wodden mosaic floor. A coffered ceiling imitating the style of the XVth century with Pompejan paintings. There were also numerous silver cups won by the horses. The curtains were made of red silk.

Now came the duke´s office. It had two small bookshelves where the duke kept the most

Garden

important books of his 4000 volume collection. On the walls he had several paintings by important artists, among them one of his late daughter Isabel Falcó.

In one corner, on a red velvet easel, a painting of the duke´s grandchildren. They were three and four years old and their mother was the duke´s daughter, the duchess of Alba.

From this room one could go to a sort of greenhouse full of plants and works of art, like an Othello made of marble.

On one side of the greenhouse they had added a dining-room with three big mirrors at the end. On the sides red tapestry with antique china plates on them.

If you want to see more pictures of the palace, click here.

Sources:

Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, Serie VII, Historia del Arte, t.V, 1992. La casa-mansión de los Duques de Alburquerque y de los Duques de Fernán-Nuñez: Historia y evolución, autora: Luz Buelga Lastra. Trabajo financiado por la Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles.

Recuerdo de un baile de trajes. Reseña del verificado la noche del 25 de febrero de 1884 en el palacio de los excelentísimos señores duques de Fernán Nuñez, autores: Emilio Bravo y Moltó y Vicente Sancho del Castillo, Imprenta y Estereotipia de El Liberal, 1884

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