When staying in Madrid, the Prado Museum should be on your must-see list. This museum is one of the best in Europe containing works of some of the greatest artists in the world. You have heard of them, you have seen them in books, now take your time to see them live at this incredible museum.
The Prado Museum is celebrating its 200-year anniversary. It opened for the first time to the public in 1819, by order of King Ferdinand VII and the purpose of his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza. It was known as the Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures and, the first collection included only 311 paintings.
The building was built in the 1700s by architect Juan de Villanueva, who originally designed it to house the Natural History cabinet. In 2002, the museum went under an extension project led by architect Rafael Moneo, who respected the design of the original building and its unique surroundings.
During the Spanish Civil War, the museum didn't operate, and all the artworks were hidden in the basement to protect them from the bombings.
The Spanish paintings collection from the 12th to the 17th centuries holds more than 2,000 samples. The most significant part of this collection, perhaps, is the artwork of Velazquez – one of the most predominant painters of the Spanish Golden Age. Find 48 pieces of his work, including many portraits of the Royal family and one of his most famous artworks: Las Meninas.
In the Italian and French painting up to 1700 section admire The Death of the Virgin by Andrea Mantegna. While, in room 58, take your time to appreciate the brilliant work of Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden and his majestic painting Descent from the Cross. One of the highlights at the museum is Goya's work. He was one of the most influential romantic painters during the 18th century for later modern artists like Dali and Picasso. The naked Maja and Saturn are among some of the masterpieces you will find.
The 19th-century paintings collection is the largest, including Francisco Pradilla's famous masterpiece Doña Juana la Loca. Not to miss is the collection of prints, drawings, and photography with more than 9,000 drawings, almost 6,000 prints and approximately 10,000 photographs portraying a variety of origins mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Pick a free map at the information point to plan your visit and make the best out of your time at the museum. The layout helps you find the masterpieces you would like to see without getting lost.
To avoid the crowds, show up as soon as the museum opens at 10 am. And, buy your ticket online to avoid queues at the box office, this way you go straight through security.
Take a guided tour to learn more about the paintings you are witnessing. Listening to the stories behind them will enrich your experience.
The closest metro stations are Atocha, Plaza de Cibeles and Banco de España.