Text and photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
Madrid is a paradise for art lovers! Here is a quick guide of our Top 5 museums of Madrid in order to avoid being museumed-out while admiring some of the finest art the Spanish capital has to offer…
Museo del Prado
One of the most visited museums in the world, El Prado is the main Spanish art museum. Started from the royal collections, it hosts the best of Spanish paintings: if Las Meninas by Velásquez is the most famous of the museum, visitors are dazzled by the extensive Goya collection, many other pieces by Velásquez, and the paintings with elongated figures of El Greco. The first collection of Italian masters outside Italy, El Prado is also home to some of the finest pieces by Bosch like The garden of Earthly delights triptych or the Flemish school like Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross and will enchant anyone with interest in the 12th to the early 20th century European art.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
If El museo de la Reina Sofía hosts one of the most famous paintings in the world: Guernica by Pablo Picasso, (click to unravel its secrets) it would be a shame to limit yourself to that iconic painting. Take a rest in the lush patio among Miro’s scultpures, walk its excellent temporary exhibits and admire other 20th century masterpieces such as The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dalí and The bottle of Anis by Juan Gris.
The collection displayed in the museum was started in the 1920s by Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon. The third museum located between El Prado and The Reina Sofia along the wide avenue Paseo del Prado, completes the collections of the other two by showcasing a series of highlights from eight centuries of European paintings from the 13th right up until the 20th century. The museum includes the magnificent Italian primitives and works from the English, Dutch and German schools, Impressionists, Expressionists, and European and American paintings from the 20th century.
Museo Lázaro Galdiano
A marvellous collection showcased in the mansion of Lázaro Galdiano (1862-1947), a passionate art collector: Goya, El Greco, Ribera, Velásquez, Murillo, Bosch, Constable, the Da Vinci school… An off the beaten path must-visit in Madrid!
Museo de las Americas
The museum of the Americas will allow you to take a break from the above mentioned museums focusing on Spanish and European arts. Starting in the 16th century, Spanish ships had been crossing the Atlantic and bringing back gold pieces and artefacts from the indigenous cultures of Central and South America. The museum of the Americas gathers 25,000 pieces from ceramics, sculptures, jewellery, tools, to the paraphernalia of the conquistadors. A wonderful collection, it is too bad that the visit is not that interactive.
- Museums of Madrid are open for free for a few hours several days of the week. Then queues can get very long and the galleries get very busy:
- The Prado: Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. & Sunday and holiday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía: Monday to Saturday (closed on Tuesdays) from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Sundays from 1:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
- The Thyssen Bornemisza on Mondays from noon until 4 p.m.
- Museo Lázaro Galdiano: from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. & Sundays, from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m.
- Museo de las Americas: Thursdays from 2 p.m. & on Sundays.
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