In 1721, the Royal Tapestry Factory was housed in the old livestock watering building beside Madrid’s Puerta de Santa Bárbara gate, on what today is the start of Calle Santa Engracia.
In 1884, Alfonso XII ordered the construction of a new building, due to the continued complaints of Madrileños who lived close to the Royal Tapestry Factory.
This was a time when Madrid was undergoing a major urban redevelopment brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
It was then that the Royal Tapestry Factory relocated to its current premises at Calle Fuenterrabía 2 in the Retiro neighbourhood.
The Neo Mudejar style building was selected within the Industrial Heritage Plan by the Spanish Institute of Historic Heritage and declared a Site of Cultural Interest by the Regional Government of Madrid in 2006. The merits for such recognition lie not only in the architectural value of the property but in the fact that the building continues to fulfil the same function for which it was originally built: the manufacture and restoration of textiles of the highest quality.
The historic garden of the Royal Tapestry Factory is located inside the centre of the grounds.
Thanks to a recent remodelling, the Royal Tapestry Factory garden houses a collection of samples of dye plants and species of vegetation used to obtain textile fibres such as cotton and linen.
The plants, bushes and other species are from all corners of the world and are the result of the crossing of cultures arising from Moorish Spain and the Spanish expeditions of the 18th century.
This royal factory’s garden is home to dye plants originating from different parts of the world, from the Mediterranean Basin to America, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia and even some plants introduced and naturalised in Australia.
Plants used to obtain natural dyes used to give colour to fabrics going back to the time of our ancestors, by many civilizations all over the world.
From yellow chamomile used to dye rugs in Turkey, or the rose madder which is used to dye cotton the famous “Turkish red”, or dyer’s woad, known as “blue gold” by the powerful European industrialists of the Middle Ages.
They are all historically influential plants that have played a role in the cultural development of different peoples throughout time.
The garden serves as an additional cultural interest in the history of the Royal Tapestry Factory.