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Madrid, City of Museums

What Not to do in Madrid Museums

The Prado Museum is home to the most exhaustive collection of the works of Velazquez, Francisco de Goya, and El Greco in the world.

Museo Nacional Del Prado

The Prado is a collection of Spanish and international masterpieces—and a source of national pride. Architect Juan de Villanueva designed numerous neoclassical works around the city, but none quite as celebrated as this one. Originally the National History Cabinet, the building is now stop No. 1 for first-time Madrid visitors. In fact, art historian Jonathan Brown has dubbed this spot, which is truly unmissable, “the most important museum in the world for European painting.” The collection of European art ranges from the 12th to the 20th centuries; the most famous works are “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez and “Third of May 1808” by Francisco Goya.

Prado Museum, Spanish Museo del Prado, art museum in Madrid, housing the world’s richest and most comprehensive collection of Spanish painting, as well as masterpieces of other schools of European painting, especially Italian and Flemish art.

The Prado’s building had its start in 1785 when Charles III commissioned the architect Juan de Villanueva to design a natural science museum. The construction of the Neoclassical-style building was interrupted during the Napoleonic Wars, but it was completed under Ferdinand VII in 1819 and was opened to the public as the Royal Museum of Painting. In 1868 it became the National Museum of the Prado after the exile of Isabella II, who had enlarged the collection with paintings from the royal palaces and the Escorial.

The Prado contains the most complete collections in the world of the works of El GrecoVelázquez, and Francisco de Goya, as well as of such Spanish masters as José de Ribera and Francisco de Zurbarán. It has important works by Hiëronymus BoschPieter Bruegel the ElderRaphaelTintorettoPaolo VeronesePeter Paul RubensRembrandtAnthony Van DyckNicolas PoussinClaude Lorrain, and Antoine Watteau. It also has a fine collection of Greco-Roman statuary.

What not to do:

  1. Don’t get in line without researching what the current attractions are! Seems evident, but we just knew we needed to visit the historic museum!
  2. Don’t wait in line to purchase tickets! You can now do that right here.
  3. Don’t carry much with you. You will go through multiple levels of security. There are lockers, but the less you take, the better.
  4. Don’t think you’ll spend less than 3 hours with entry and just the entry items. If you plan on exhibit, plan for several hours to absorb the plethora of exquisite pieces.
Some of the masterpieces at the Thyssen

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, once an aristocratic mansion, falls somewhere between the avant-garde works at the Reina Sofia and the traditional Spanish art at the Prado. With an enormous collection of European art from the continent’s most respected masters, the museum is a must-see for anyone. Expect recognizable pieces from the likes of Dalí, El Greco, Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Some works date back to the Medieval period; others are from the 20th century. There are even some 19th-century American paintings as well as interesting modern pop art.

The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza houses one of the finest and most varied collections of Western painting. Van Eyck, Dürer, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Kirchner, Kandinsky, Goncharova, O’Keeffe, Hopper, Dalí, and Pollock are just some of the names on the long list of great masters represented in its holdings

Duccio, Van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kirchner, Mondrian, O’Keeffe, Hopper… these are just some of the great names whose works you can see in the museum. Wander through our collection made up of almost 1000 paintings, spanning the history of art from the 13th right up until the 20th century.

  1. Know the collections before you go! This seems like the natural thing to do; however, our research was based solely on places not to miss! So we didn’t miss walking around in this amazing museum.


CaixaForum Madrid

This cultural exhibition center, just across the street from the Prado, is a modern space with rotating exhibitions and the city’s first vertical garden. Once an electric factory, the building now sports shockingly modern interiors, complete with a shiny steel stairway with a reflective design. Still, the exhibitions here run the gamut from traditional painters to more polemic topics such as the story of refugees in Spain. The latest exhibitions include a series of Toulouse-Lautrec paintings outlining his experiences in the Paris Montmartre neighborhood. While not on the tip of every visitor’s tongue—it’s pronounced “Cayysha” by the way—the museum is worth a look. You can get through any of the exhibitions in a couple of hours, making it a great backup choice if the lines are too daunting at the Prado.

The living wall

  1. We had no idea there was museum . The vertical wall was a spectacular site.

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (“Queen Sofía National Museum Art Centre”; MNCARS)[n. 1] is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art. The museum was officially inaugurated on September 10, 1990, and is named for Queen Sofía. It is located in Madrid, near the Atocha train and metro stations, at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica. Along with its extensive collection, the museum offers a mixture of national and international temporary exhibitions in its many galleries, making it one of the world’s largest museums for modern and contemporary art.

The tiny bit I could capture

One of Madrid’s heavy hitters, the Reina Sofia specializes in 20th-century Spanish art. While most Madrid visitors make a beeline for the Prado, this museum is often next on the agenda. The glass addition to the otherwise historic facade hints at the surprising gems within, including masterpieces focusing on feminism, dreams, the Spanish civil war, and most notably, Picasso’s “Guernica.” Rotating exhibitions span the globe and touch upon thought-provoking, conversation-starting topics. This is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to modern art, quite an impressive feat for a museum that opened in 1992. You’ll find works from Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and other bold-faced names.

Don’t lean on pedestals
  1. See this sculpture right here. Picasso did that. My mother and I were excited to see the photos we had taken so far. So, there was a podium to lean on to look. When we realized we were leaning next to a sculpture by Picasso and could have knocked it off, we were mortified. Don’t lean on a pedestal especially if it has nothing around it.
  2. There are many paintings and exhibits of which you are not to photograph. The “Guernica” is one of them. It’s a massive piece and can’t be contained in one photo. As you can plainly see as I captured a quick snippet for my mom. I figured it’s been 3 years, I can be safe posting it now.
  3. Know which exhibits are rotating and design your visit around that.

We both loved the Reina Sofia and it was located right across the street from the Airbnb we stayed at.

Basically, know before you go and enjoy every second of your sight seeing.

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