If you are an art connoisseur or an avid museum goer and want nothing but the best Spanish and European art pieces in Madrid, there are actually a number of good options in the city. But everyone will agree that the best choice is the Prado Museum.
Located along Paseo del Prado, it houses the biggest and most comprehensive collection of paintings and artworks by artists from Spain and all over the world. Included in the collection are the prized creations by three of the most revered Spanish artists – Francisco Goya, El Greco and Diego Velazquez.
Prado Madrid – Birth of a National Museum
Construction of the Museo del Prado begun in 1785, when the design work of the edifice was assigned by Charles II to prolific architect Villanueva. It was finally completed in 1819 under the reign of Ferdinand VII, despite the halting of construction work brought about by the Napoleonic Wars. Initially called the Royal Museum of Painting, it was renamed the National Museum of the Prado in 1868.
Facts about the Prado Spain Museum
1. In the 10 best museums in the world list for 2015, the thelocal.es website ranks Prado as number four overall, beating Louvre of France, which is number 5. First in the list is the Metropolitan museum of New York.
2. If there is one distinct difference between Prado Museum and Louvre museum – you can take photographs inside the Louvre, while Prado prohibits visitors from doing so within its premises. I had been to both, and while I was reprimanded by a Prado curator for having taken a stolen shot, I had tons of Louvre photos as souvenirs, even a selfie that shows the Mona Lisa (although I believe the Mona Lisa was on display then was not the original).
3. The Las Meninas by Velazquez is the most important painting in the Museum’s collection. The art piece is unique in that one figure seen in the painting is Velazquez himself.
Diego Velázquez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
4. Franciaso Goya’s art work constitutes a good portion of the museum’s entire collection that his sculpture is displayed outside the museum in his honor. One of Goya’s work that’s worth seeing is the naked Maja, or the La Maja desnuda. This particular painting caused people to accuse him of obscenity.
5. Museo del Prado belongs to the so-called The Golden Triad or Triangle of Art of Madrid, the top three art museums close to each other within the Prado vicinity. The other two are the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, a private museum of contemporary art, and Reina Sofia Museum, also national museo that features the finest in contemporary artwork.
6. Another painting that’s a must-see by Prado visitors is the Descent of the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden, a renowned painter from Belgium. This particular painting is filled with remarkable details, with the artist succeeding in making the work so life-like. Anyone would notice how the body of Jesus as it is being lowered down and the fallen Mary, His Mother, had been similarly positioned by the artist.
7. The museum houses more or less 7,600 paintings and 1000 sculptures, all of which are high in value, both historical and monetary. As many as 3 million visitors are welcomed by the museum every year.
Nearby Madrid attractions
One of the more popular churches in the area, San Jeronimo el Real has been serving the vicinity since the 10th century
Museo Naval is a popular museum near the area. Also known as the Naval Museum of Madrid, it is highly visited because of its rich display of ancient and valuable historical items from the Spanish Navy
The Royal Botanical Garden is in front of the Murillo Gate of the museo
Statue of Neptune (Neptuno) along the Paseo del Prado
Palacio de Cibeles is just a block away from the museum, and holds its own cultural and arts expositions at the Centro Centro. Also called the Palacio de Communicaciones, it dwarfs everything else within the Plaza Cibeles
How to go:
Direccion – Paseo del Prado 28014 Madrid
Prado Museum tickets:
Price of Admission is 14 euros
Take advantage of the free admission
Monday to Saturday: 6 to 8 PM
Sunday and holidays: 5 to 7 PM
Prado Museum hours:
The museum is open everyday of the year, except December 25, January 1, May 1
Regular opening hours
Monday to Saturday: 10AM to 8PM
Sunday and Holiday: 10AM to 7PM