Royal Observatory of Madrid

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Royal Observatory
Native name
Spanish: Real Observatorio de Madrid
Location Madrid, Spain
Governing body Instituto Geográfico Nacional (Spain)
Official name: Real Observatorio de Madrid
Type Non-movable
Criteria Monument
Designated 1995
Reference no. RI-51-0009078
Royal Observatory of Madrid is located in Spain
Royal Observatory of Madrid
Location of Royal Observatory in Spain

The Royal Observatory of Madrid is a historic observatory situated on a small hill next to the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain. It was completed in 1790 and took over some of the work previously done by the naval observatory on the south coast.

It is the seat of the Spanish National Astronomical Observatory and the Observatorio Geofísico Central, both administered by the National Geographic Institute (via its department of Astronomía, Geofísica y Aplicaciones Espaciales).[1]


The observatory was designed by Juan de Villanueva, architect to Charles III of Spain, It represents one of the highlights of Spanish neoclassical architecture. Its domed lantern was conceived as a classical circular temple.


Shortly after construction, the observatory was equipped with a 25-foot reflecting telescope by William Herschel. The instrument was dismantled in the Peninsular War and only partially survived. It has been reconstructed in recent years.

Current use[edit]

The Herschel telescope can be viewed along with other historic scientific equipment.[1] There is also a library.

Madrid is affected by light pollution and is not a good location for optical astronomy. Conditions are much better in other parts of Spanish territory, notably the Canary Islands, the second-best location for optical and infrared astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, after Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Visitas al Real Observatorio" [Visits to the Royal Observatory] (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 August 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°24′30″N 3°41′15″W / 40.4084°N 3.6876°W / 40.4084; -3.6876