I went back several times. I found the gardens to be a quiet retreat on my sightseeing excursions. The Palace exterior is beautiful and the gardens are surrounded by sculptures. Though tourists are in the area, it has maintained a sense of tranquility, which allows you to sit and admire your surroundings. I did not get the opportunity to go inside for the tour.
Plaza de Oriente is the nice pedestrian square with gardens between the Royal Palace and the Opera Theatre.
There you can find nice buildings around and some terraces to have a few drinks in summer...
I will always think of the Plaza de Oriente as the spot where the tight and bustling streets of Madrid open up and let tranquility rule. When I walked into the plaza for the first time and saw the Royal Palace beyond the sculpted gardens and the many statues depicting all the Spanish kings and other historical figures, the space itself invited me to slow down and take notice of my surroundings. The buildings curve around the eastern end of the square and focus your attention on the palace and the central equestrian statue of King Felipe IV. The statue is by Italian sculptor Pietro de Tacca and was inspired by a painting by Velasquez. It is an ideal place to photograph the Royal Palace.
In the centre of Plaza de Oriente is a statue of Felipe IV which was placed there in 1843. The sculpture which is surrounded by fountains, was designed by an Italian, Pietro Tacca.