Madrid's art galleries and museums are a point of reference for universal art thanks to the unique works they contain. Some of the city’s best museums are the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Reina Sofía and the Sorolla.
Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid)
This is Spain’s most visited museum, and one of the world’s finest art galleries. If you like art, then this place is not to be missed. At the Prado Museum you can see works by the great masters of painting. Standing before them, you will be thrilled and you may even lose all notion of time. A treat within everyone's reach.
The Prado Museum is, without a doubt, the big star of the “Paseo del Arte” (Art Avenue) in Madrid. It is in a privileged central location, surrounded by trees and monuments. It is internationally famous, mainly on account of its enviable collection of paintings. The enormous value of the paintings here has, to a certain extent, eclipsed the works of sculpture, drawing, prints and decorative arts also to be found in the collection. For example, The Dauphin’s Treasure, comprising more than 120 items of precious metal work from the 16th and 17th centuries, is one of the most spectacular collections. Nevertheless, with the numerous great masters to be seen on display, it is no surprise that other items are left in the background.
To start with, the Prado Museum has the world’s largest collection of Spanish painting. It is a unique ensemble, that goes from the Romanesque through to the 19th century, with essential works by artists such as El Greco, Murillo, Zurbarán, Ribera, Sorolla, Goya and Velázquez. The last two of these are particularly brilliant. The wonderful collection of Goya’s works comprises more than 140 pieces and will let you see its evolution: amongst other memorable works, you can see The Family of Charles IV, The Parasol, The “Majas”, The Charge of the Mamluks and his famous black paintings. As far as Velázquez is concerned, the Prado has around fifty of his works, including almost all his most important canvasses, such as The Maids of Honour, The Rendition of Breda, The Spinners and The Drunkards.
Walking through the museum you will also come across fundamental works by the great European masters. You can see the best of the Italian and Flemish schools, through to representative examples of the German and French schools. The list of titles and artists is truly exceptional: The Garden of Earthy Delights by El Bosco, The Annunciation by Fra Angélico, The Three Graces by Rubens, Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet by Tintoretto, Rembrandt’s Artemisa, Rafael’s The Holy Family, Durero’s Self-portrait, The Emperor Charles V by Tiziano, The Descent from the Cross by Van der Weyden…
So as not to miss anything, we would recommend you plan your visit well, according to your preferences and the amount of time you have. After admiring so many wonderful paintings, it may surprise you to know that the Prado Museum only has one seventh of its collection on display. Since it was inaugurated in 1819, the institution has grown constantly. Nevertheless, the greatest enlargement took place in 2007. The new building, designed by prestigious architect Rafael Moneo, usually hosts temporary exhibitions. Art is not the only thing you will notice inside. The original system for providing natural daylight and the restored cloister of Los Jerónimos Church are attractions in their own right.
One last piece of advice: to enjoy the Prado Museum it is vital not to be in a rush. And even if you are not, you will still want to come back for more. More information: Prado National Museum