Five galleries to visit in Madrid
Truly, Spain isn’t short of a gallery or two. With a strong artistic heritage – which encouraged the works of Picasso, Dali and Gris - each city boasts at least one beautiful gallery to show off its art. Bilbao has the Guggenheim, Barcelona has the National Art Museum of Catalonia and even the party town of Malaga has the beautiful Pompidou Centre.
But we’d suggest that art lovers take a trip to Madrid where in between great food, great shopping and great nightlife, a who’s who of popular artists line the walls of its many famous galleries. Days could be spent hopping from gallery to gallery, taking in the sights to which prints and posters don’t do justice – though a trip to the gift shops are an extra treat for art-lovers.
If you fancy a spot of culture before hitting the tapas bars, here’s the Citybond team's guide on where to see a lifetime’s worth of masterpieces in just one weekend.
Museo del Prado
First on the list must surely be the Museo del Prado. With over 8,600 paintings and 700 sculptures, it’s renowned for carrying the most magnificent collection of art that Europe has to offer. Each year, nearly three million visitors take in the beauty of valuable works by Bosch, Goya, Rembrandt and Reubens. The star of the show is known to be Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, while Caravaggio’s glorious David and Goliath is not to be missed. Once you’re finished seeing the work of these talented artists, head to the Botanical Gardens right next door to appreciate aesthetics of a different kind.
A short walk away from Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofia is Madrid’s spiritual home of contemporary art. Grab the audio guide and dig into the background of modern-day movements, especially the surrealism and cubism that influenced the likes of Picasso, Dali and Braque. The number of famous paintings by the likes of Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko and Damien Hirst is almost overwhelming, so spend extra time preparing yourself for the mighty Guernica, Picasso’s huge masterpiece depicting the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War. Pro tip: The gallery is always busy, so book online for cheaper tickets and to avoid the queue.
Another major gallery in the area is the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and it’s a perfect choice for appreciators of both contemporary and classical art. That’s because it began as the private collection of Heinrich Thyssen, an art lover who bought a wide range of masterpieces from Americans during The Great Depression and returned them to Europe. Opened in 1992, the only thread that unites the artists inside is reverence - you’ll find famous pieces from Van Gogh to Pollock, and Monet to Kandinsky.
If you’re planning to visit the above galleries, the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk Pass) is a well-priced €29.60 and includes entry to all three.
Internationally, Joaquín Sorolla is less known than the likes of Picasso, but the museum dedicated to the impressionist is well worth an investigation. Set in his family home filled with items and paintings of interest bequeathed by both his wife and his son, this gallery contains the largest collection of his work and has a real personal touch. Paintings like La sposa di Lagartera show why he became renowned for capturing Mediterranean light to incredible effect. Carve out some time to enjoy the gardens, designed by Sorolla himself, before taking in the sights and sounds of the vibrant neighbourhood of Chamberi.
The Romanticism Museum
It’s a gallery all right, but not as we know it. As well as viewing paintings from the early 18th century from the likes of Esquivel, Goya and the Bécquer brothers, the magnificent building itself evokes the spirit of the time. The former palace, built in 1776, takes visitors on a journey of a high-class home from the era. The paintings and objets d'art are scattered across two spacious floors - you’ll find 15 pianos, Isabelline furniture and rather morbidly, the pistol romantic writer Mariano José de Larra used to commit suicide. For those with even a passing interest in the Romantic period, it’s well worth the €3 entry fee, though it’s free on Saturday afternoons and Sundays too.
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