Home » Bruins in Madrid Visit Spain’s Royal Palace
Europe News Spain

Bruins in Madrid Visit Spain’s Royal Palace

MADRID – The Bruins’ third day in Spain included a mid-day visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid, as UCLA’s travel party spent a portion of the afternoon at the historic Spanish venue. After visiting the historic city of Toledo on Tuesday (nearly 45 minutes southwest of Madrid), the team’s visit to the Royal Palace was the primary sightseeing destination on Wednesday’s itinerary. Temperatures in sunny Madrid hovered at around 100 degrees on Wednesday afternoon.

The Royal Palace of Madrid encompasses nearly 1,450,000 square feet of space (135,000 square meters) and features over 3,400 rooms across six floors. There are a limited number of rooms available to the public through daily tours. The Royal Palace’s current building welcomes nearly two million visitors each year to tour its rooms, art collections and various other national artifacts. For a young man like freshman Devin Williams, who can speak Spanish as his mother (Maria) is from Mexico, a trip like this is rewarding on many levels.

“I mean, these are the types of experiences where my mom didn’t have this experience, so I just want to enjoy it and so that I can tell her about it and maybe one day, I can bring her here,” Williams said. “But it’s been awesome for sure, being able to have this opportunity with UCLA.”

Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward from Riverside, Calif., and his teammates spent over an hour at a national landmark that has witnessed centuries of Spanish history. The Royal Palace of Madrid now sits on the site of the old Alcázar of Madrid, which was a Moorish fortress during medieval times, later converted into a palace. The palace became the official residence for the kings of Spain around the year 1561. A fire destroyed the Alcázar on Christmas Eve in 1734, and construction on the building’s current configuration began four years later. Construction of the present-day Royal Palace was completed in 1751.

The Royal Palace of Madrid continues to be used for international audiences, gatherings and official events. Wednesday afternoon’s visit left an impression on many of the Bruins’ players. “It’s pretty amazing, just so much history, the making of Spain, learning about the founders and how the country came along,” sophomore Adem Bona said. “We had the chance to see a lot of amazing stuff within the palace, many of the rooms. I think that it’s an amazing experience to see so much of the history. I’d say that this is probably the most impressive historic place that I have been in.”

The Bruins’ afternoon visit took place one day after UCLA’s first of three exhibition contests during a nine-day stay in Spain. UCLA defeated the Madrid All-Stars on Tuesday evening, 76-68, and six Bruins were wearing the UCLA uniform for the first time in their careers. Devin Williams was one of four players to UCLA to score at least 10 points. He finished the Bruins’ victory with 14 points and seven rebounds. Williams knocked down three of six shot attempts, was 1-for-2 from the 3-point line, and connected on five of six free throws.

“For my first college experience, in a way, just playing with my teammates against other people, I loved it,” Williams said. “I thought it was a really good experience, and I think that we can be really good, for sure. I feel that we have all of the right pieces to work toward that 12th national championship at UCLA. But it’s all building blocks, seeing as it is August right now. We are preparing to get all the way to March, so it was exciting – nervous and a bunch of feelings, but I am excited for the season.”

Williams, who says he has gained nearly 20 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame since arriving to campus in late June, acknowledged that adding muscle and working on his body has been a constant focus this summer. “Definitely my body strength, for sure,” Williams said. “I’m learning to be more vocal out there, and being able to adjust myself on the floor. So playing alongside Kenny or with Adem, us being big guys out there during the game, either one of us in the game or at the same time, we want to be unstoppable and hard for teams to adjust. But definitely my body weight, for sure, just trying to get stronger.”

No stranger to success on the court, Williams spent the past three years at Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., playing for head coach Josh Giles. He helped lead Centennial to three consecutive CIF Southern Section Open Division titles in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Last season, he averaged 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for Centennial. For Williams, the scene now shifts to Westwood (and Spain) as he continues to get adjusted to college basketball.

“It’s a cool vibe, being here in Spain with all of these guys,” said Williams, who has made his first trip to Europe and second trip out of the country. “I watched this team a lot last year, and I have been excited to come play. For us to get this started up in Spain, it’s awesome. It’s a great culture and atmosphere and great basketball, for sure.” The Bruins will be back in action this Thursday evening (Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. in Spain), taking on Valencia Basket, at Alqueria de Basket in Valencia, Spain.

Source: UCLA