The Spanish National Observatory is an astronomical observatory with several facilities in the Madrid
area. The historic building in the Parque del Buen Retiro was built in 1790 as the Royal Observatory. Equipped with a Hershel telescope, it took over the purely astronomical work of the naval observatory, the Real Instituto y Observatorio de la Armada, in the south of the country.
The Royal Observatory was designed by Juan de Villanueva and represents one of the highlights of Spanish neoclassical architecture. Its domed lantern was conceived as a classical circular temple. It houses historic scientific equipment and a library, which can be visited by prior arrangement.