Real Fábrica de Tapices

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Real Fábrica de Tapices

Tired of the previous monarchs' dependency on the Belgian and Flemish thread mills and craftsmen, King Felipe V decided to establish the Royal Tapestry Factory in Madrid in 1721. It was originally housed near Alonso Martínez, and moved to its current location in 1889. Some of Europe's best artists collaborated in the factory's tapestry designs. The most famous was Goya, who produced 63 cartoons, or rough plans, some of which can be seen at the Prado. It's said that he put so much detail into them that the craftsmen complained he'd made their work miserable. The factory is still in operation—you can tour the workshop floor and watch weavers at work. They apply traditional weaving techniques from the 18th and 19th centuries to modern and classic designs—including Goya's. Textiles are available for sale (you can suggest your own design) at skyrocketing prices: €1,000 per square meter (10¾ square feet) for carpets, €9,000–€12,000 per square meter for tapestries. The factory also runs a training center that teaches traditional weaving techniques to unemployed teenagers, who later become craftspeople.

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