Velázquez door. Prado Museum. Madrid © Turespaña
Madrid is not only the capital of Spain; it is also the country's art capital. This is the impression you will inevitably have when you discover its famous "Art Route". There is nowhere else in the world with as many masterpieces in such a small area. The Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía National Museum are the stars of this unique route, which will take you on a complete tour of the history and evolution of painting. Now there is yet another reason to visit them: the new additions built to expand their facilities, truly architectural gems. Inside and out, you will find these museums a delight.
The three museums are located just a few metres from each other and are connected by one of the city's main avenues: the Paseo del Prado. Along this route, shaded by leafy trees, you can enjoy such emblematic landmarks as the 18th-century fountains of Cibeles and Neptune, the Royal Botanical Gardens or the Astronomical Observatory.
It has one of the world's most important collections of paintings, with the best of the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools, encompassing the 12th to 18th centuries. Some of the outstanding paintings include "Las Meninas" or "The Family of Philip IV" (also known as "The Maids of Honour") by Velázquez; Goya's Majas; and "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch, as well as works by artists of the stature of Titian, Rubens and El Greco. Since it opened in November 1819, the Prado Museum has steadily grown. However, its latest expansion is the largest in its history. The new building, designed by the prominent Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, features the use of glass for natural lighting and monumental bronze doors, the work of the sculptor Cristina Iglesias.
This museum represents the perfect transition, a link between the classic works of the Prado Museum and the contemporary ones found in the Reina Sofía Art Centre. It is one of the most valuable private collections in the world. The need for more space for its acquisitions was the reason behind the construction of a new building in the same style as the already existing one, the Villahermosa Palace. The itinerary begins with 13thcentury Western painting and goes all the way through the most important movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Highlights of its artistic collection include works from the Impressionist, avant-garde and 60s Pop Art movements. Hanging on its walls you'll find paintings by masters such as Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Klee and Kandinsky, among many others.
Avant-garde and up-to-date. Perhaps those are the adjectives that best describe the Reina Sofía National Art Museum. It reflects the most innovative artistic trends and sets the standard in contemporary art. It is also home to Pablo Picasso's world-famous "Guernica". Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Juan Gris and Chillida, among others, are all represented in this museum's extensive collection. In the architectural sphere, its recent addition is the work of the famous Jean Nouvel.
All the beauty and history of art are yours to enjoy in just a short walk. It has never been easier: you will find it in Madrid, Spain's capital. You will be keen to return.