There is so much to see…. be inspired by our Top 10 in Madrid!
Top 1: Museo del Prado
The Prado Museum is Spain’s emblematic Art Gallery. The collections avidly gathered by the powerful Spanish monarchs include some of the top masterpieces by Western Art giants such as Goya, Velázquez, Greco, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Dürer or Bosch. Beyond those individualities, the Prado Museum is rich in Primitive Flemish Artists and Venetian Renaissance School, Baroque painting from Spain, Flanders, Italy and France, and has antique Roman and Greek statues. Also decorative arts are represented by the splendid Treasure of the Dauphin.
Top 2: Guernica by Picasso at Museo Reina Sofía
Museo Reina Sofía is home to Picasso, Miró, Dalí and many other artists of the 20th century. But among all, it is known as the place where modern art icon “Guernica” is exhibited. Guernica is also the backbone of the whole Picasso collection, with Dalí and Miró as strong counterweights, in one of the most interesting overviews of 20th century art. The historical background of 20th century, a contrast of apocalyptic wars and technological progress, is symbolically the context for this collection housed in an 18th century hospital.
Top 3: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemizsa
Hans-Heinrich Thyssen Collection was once the second-best private art collection in the world. Now it is a public collection owned by Spain and governed by the Thyssen Foundation. This Museum is like a small art encyclopedia, with more than 900 works (plus the ones lent by the Baroness Carmen Thyssen), from Italian Gothic to British contemporary art. A visit at the Thyssen is like an illustrated lesson of Art History.
Top 4: Around Plaza Mayor
Madrid’s “Plaza Mayor” (“Main Square”) is the heart of old capital of the Habsburg’s dynasty. Product of a period when Spain was the World hegemonic power from 1500 to 1650, it is still a living stage for fairs and concerts, just as much as it used to be one for bullfighting or Inquisition public open-air trials. A stroll around the Plaza will lead you to some of the finest Baroque churches and convents of Madrid as well as to picturesque corners and hundred-year-old taverns.
Top 5: The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of Europe’s most magnificent royal residences. It’s an early 18th century building, designed by the Italian Architects Juvarra and Sacchetti, for the Bourbon kings of Spain. The current Royal Palace of Madrid stands where the old “Alcazar” of the Middle Ages had stood until the fire of 1734 destroyed it completely. The new palace was built a symbol of the continuity of Spanish Monarchy.
Top 6: Retiro Park
This huge city park was once part of the Royal Domain of Buen Retiro, until the gardens of the palace were transformed into a public park during the 19th century. Today it’s undoubtedly one of the liveliest places in Madrid. Dynamic and crowded during the weekends, intimate and warm during labor week, you will see there Madrilenians relax, having fun, walking, jogging, practicing tai-chi or playing drums!
Top 7: The “Gran Vía”
The Gran Vía is like a small open-air museum of Spanish Architecture from 1912 to 1959, when the city wanted to be modern and started to look for inspiration in such different places as Paris, London or Chicago.
The evolution of its architecture as the Gran Vía was being erected and advanced from west to east, ran parallel to the evolution of Spanish history: the last pre-democratic reign, the Spanish Republic and Franco’s Regime, all left their artistic legacy in this street, a place where shopping, cinema and music-hall attract thousands of visitors.
Top 8: ROYAL PANTHEON, PALACE & MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL
If “El Escorial” stood 60 kilometres NW from Rome, it would still be a mandatory landmark of that city. This huge ensemble in the “Sierra” of Madrid is one of the most impressive buildings of the Renaissance.
Philip II planned in it both a temporal and an eternal dwelling for the members of his family: a palace during their lives, a Pantheon after their death, with a monastic community to pray for their souls among works by Bosch, Greco, Titian, Benvenutto Cellini and dozens of other first rank artists.
Top 9: ROYAL MONASTERY OF “DESCALZAS REALES”
A most original and surprising visit to a museum equal to no other in Europe: This 16th century convent still owns hundreds of works of art (by Titian, Brueghel, …) given as dowry by the novices from imperial, royal and aristocratic families.
All those treasures are not exhibited out of context, as in most museums in Europe, but embedded in their liturgical original environment as living objects, since the convent still houses a community of nuns, silent and invisible spirits for the visitors, but actual curators of the museum as its doors are closed.
Top 10: Goya’s Pantheon at San Antonio de la Florida
In 1929, the remains of Goya where brought from France and buried under the dome of this little church that had been decorated by him by the end of the 18th century. The fresco paintings at San Antonio de la Florida are considered one of the most appealing creations of Goya: fresh, sensual, luminous, a perfect blend of religious and profane.
Not far from it, another spot connected with Goya: the small cemetery where the victims of Napoleon during the 3rd of May where buried.