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When Real Madrid Played at a Royal Palace

They say soccer is a religion and Real Madrid are royalty, so it seems fitting that the club played at Madrid’s famous El Escorial.

Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Madrid, Spain. Photo by: Arturo Rosas/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Real Madrid are often considered royalty by their fans. But did you know the Royal Whites actually played a match at a palace?

Real Madrid were founded in 1902 as Madrid Foot-ball Club. Barcelona native Juan Padros was the club’s first president during their inaugural season, 1902-03. At the time there was no established league in Spain. The season consisted of friendlies against local clubs and the first edition of the Spanish cup competition.

History tells us that the club’s first trophy was won in 1903 when Madrid Foot-ball Club won the local Regional Championship. The club’s first official title was claimed in 1905 as the Madridistas conquered Athletic Club in the final of the Spanish Cup (later named the Copa del Rey). These first pieces of hardware that started a vast trophy collection were not hardware at all they were two ceramic plates.

The Madrid club was invited to take part in San Lorenzo de Escorial’s festival. The town is about 45 km northwest of Madrid and is home to one of Spain’s most visited tourist attractions and UNESCO World Heritage Site, El Escorial.

El Escorial is a royal palace and monastery dating back to the 16th century. The gorgeous complex was commissioned by King Phillip II of Spain to commemorate Spain’s victory in the battle of St. Quentin in Picardy over the French. It is the final resting place for most Spanish kings and is said to be the home of the royal and religious powers in Spain.

The festival of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) was on August 10. The next day, Madrid Foot-ball Club would take on Moncloa Foot-ball Club with an audience of festival-goers and monks at El Escorial.

At this time, any socio could play if they had the necessary equipment. Madrid had 32 players on the roster and President Padros was starting in goal. The match was a celebration of goals with Madrid prevailing 6-5.

Madrid played at a royal palace to secure their first-ever ‘trophy,’ so it seems fitting that in 1920 the title ‘Real’ was granted to the club. They are nicknamed the ‘Royal Whites’ and their dominance in the continental competition has made them the Kings of Europe.