Museo del Prado
Museo Nacional del Prado
The Prado building was built by Juan de Villanueva for Charles III as a natural history museum. Napoleon’s brother Joseph later decided it should be the site of an art museum, and by the time the Prado opened in 1819, during the reign of Ferdinand VII, it already housed the royal collection of paintings. There is no doubt that the Prado is one of the best museums in the world. It exhibits over 9,000 works of art, including works by Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Veronese, Fra Angelico, Bosch, Rubens, Dürer, Rembrandt and Bruegel.
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Queen Isabella started the royal collection back in the 16th century, then her successors added to the collection until the 19th century. About 1,500 works of art, mostly paintings, can be displayed in the Prado at one time. Try to see the collections of works by Goya and Velázquez. In recent years, the museum has undergone renovations, including an underground passage to the main building, and the Cason del Buen Retiro complex with its collection of 19th-century Spanish art was rebuilt. Other museums nearby are the Museo Reina Sofia, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemis and the Archaeological Museum, which houses collections of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman art, previously exhibited in the Prado.
Tel.: 91 3302800 Mon-Sat. 10.00-20.00; Sundays and Holidays 10.00-19.00; closed Jan. 1, May 1, and Dec. 25. Entrance fee Metro: Banco de España
Spain’s most famous museum attracts many tourists to Madrid. This huge collection is more convenient to view in small parts, such as works by certain artists or a specific historical period; therefore, we recommend visiting it at least twice. If you only have one day, find at least three hours of time. At the end of the week, the museum is usually full.
Spanish art from the early Middle Ages is represented in the Prado mainly by sketches, but there are also some full-color examples, such as frescos by an anonymous author from the Santa Cruz de Maderuelo cloister, which are characterized by Romanesque heaviness of line and the recreation of distinctive characters.
Spanish Gothic is represented in the Prado by the works of Bartolomé Bermejo and Fernando Gallego. The realism of their paintings can be explained by borrowing from the Flemish painters of the time.
Signs of the coming Renaissance appear in the works of artists such as Pedro de Berruguete, whose painting Autodafe evokes a strong emotional response. Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina’s St. Catherine shows the style of Leonardo da Vinci, for whom Yáñez may have worked while studying in Italy. The Spanish style, whose main features are severity, gloominess, and deep emotionality, began to take shape during the Mannerist period of the 16th century. Pedro Machuca and the Madonna Luis de Morales, nicknamed the Divine, are an example. The deliberately elongated human figures in Morales’ paintings were borrowed by El Greco (Domenico Teotocopuli). Despite the fact that many of El Greco’s masterpieces are in Toledo, the Prado holds a solid collection of his works, including Portrait of an Aristocrat.
“The Golden Age was a time of unprecedented prosperity for Spanish art. Jose de Ribera, who lived in Spanish Naples, was a follower of Caravaggio, using realistic writing and the technique of light and shadow. Another master who used the same method was Francisco Ribalta, whose Christ and St. Bernard is also in the Prado. The museum also has a number of works by Zurbarán – still lifes, images of saints and monks.
This period is magnificently represented by the paintings of Diego de Velázquez, who became court painter when he was not yet thirty and remained in that position until his death. He painted ceremonial portraits of members of the royal family and paintings on religious and mythological subjects. Many of his paintings are in the Prado. Perhaps the most significant of his works is “Meninas” (“Maidens”).
Another great Spanish painter, Goya, who worked in the 18th century, at the beginning of his career drew sketches for tapestries and later became a court painter. Among Goya’s most interesting paintings in the Prado are The Shooting of the Rebels on the Night of May 3, 1808, a condemnation of war and violence, and the famous “Gloomy Paintings” series.
Flemish and Dutch paintings
Many magnificent paintings by Flemish and Dutch painters are in the Prado. Examples are “St. Barbara” by Robert Kampen, imbued with a sense of intimacy, and “The Descent from the Cross” by Rogier van der Weyden, which is without doubt a masterpiece. Most famous are the impressive, mystical canvases by Hieronymus Bosch, among which are The Temptation of St. Anthony and The Triptych in the Prado. Among the most interesting works of the 16th century is “The Triumph of Death” by Bruegel the Elder. The museum owns almost a hundred canvases by 17th-century Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, including The Adoration of the Magi. One of the most famous paintings on display at Prada is Rembrandt’s Artemisia, painted from the artist’s wife. Of the other Flemish and Dutch artists whose works are on display in the Prado, we should mention Antonis More, Antonis Van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, considered to be among the best portrait painters of the 17th century.
The Prado Museum surpasses many museums and can rightly boast an extensive collection of Italian paintings. Botticelli’s magnificent decorative wooden profiles, united by the title “The Story of Nastaggio degli Onesti,” the story of a knight forever condemned to pursue and kill his beloved, were commissioned to the painter by two wealthy Florentine families.
Here one can see Raphael’s paintings Christ on His Way to Golgotha and The Holy Family with the Lamb and Tintoretto’s early painting Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet. Spanish painters were heavily influenced by Caravaggio and used his characteristic treatment of light and shadow, as in David with the Head of Goliath. The Prado also features prominently works by the Venetian painters Veronese and Titian. Titian was a court painter at the court of Carlos V, and his paintings express the most dramatic moments of the Habsburg era, exemplified by the somber and solemn Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg. The museum also displays works by Giordano and Tiepolo, the recognized master of Italian Rococo, who painted “The Immaculate Conception,” which is part of a series intended for the church in Aranjuez.
The Prado Museum has eight paintings attributed to Poussin, including his serene “Saint Cecilia” and “Landscape with Saint Jerome.”
The best of Claude Lorraine’s works on view at the Prado is Sailing of St. Paula to Ostia. Among the eighteenth-century artists whose work is on display here are Antoine Watteau and Jean Rank. The portrait of “Philip V” by the royal portrait painter Louis-Michel Van Loo is of interest.
The Prado Museum houses several paintings by Albrecht Dürer, including Adam and Eve, which has become a classic. His evocative Self-Portrait of 1498, painted by him at the age of 26, is the gem of the Prado’s small but very valuable collection of German paintings. Also here you can see several paintings by Lucas Cranach and canvases by the late 18th century painter Anton Rafael Mengs, amongst them a portrait of Carlos III.
A must-see in the Prado
The Prado is the national museum of Spain in Madrid with the largest collection of European art in the world, opened in 1819.
The Prado Museum in Madrid is a concentration of masterpieces of fine art. In terms of its importance the Prado Museum is not inferior to the Louvre or the Hermitage, but its size is much smaller than its museum counterparts. But this is not a minus, in terms of concentration of masterpieces of world art it is beyond competition.
The total area of the new rooms is 53 thousand square meters, a total of 1300 paintings, the rest is kept in the vaults of the museum (about 7000 unexhibited paintings).
The Prado collection is famous for its complete collection of paintings of European schools of painting. Among them are Spanish, Flemish, Munich, Dutch schools. The exhibition halls are full of collections of paintings by Bosch, El Greco, Velázquez, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Murillo and many other internationally renowned masters.
Despite the high concentration of masterpieces within the museum walls, getting to know it is easy and painless: you won’t get tired of walking around the exhibition halls.
Thanks to the competent placement of paintings your walk will be informative and inspiring. Every year, two million tourists come here to see the beautiful things.
History of the Prado Museum in Madrid
But the magnificent collection of the museum was formed much earlier, in the 16th century during the reign of Charles V. It was he who was the first monarch to collect art objects and pass them on by inheritance.
At that time, only religious art was available to the general public, and the rest of the paintings could be contemplated only by the royal family. In 1775, the museum building was designed by the famous Spanish architect Juan de Villanueva.
The museum was opened to the public in 1819 by Isabella of Bragan, wife of King Ferdinand VII.
In addition to the monarch’s collections, numerous donations, nationalization in Spain (private collections passed into the ownership of the country) and the wills of private collectors helped to form its collection.
What to see
You may have enough for one day to go around the key paintings and sculptures of the masters of world painting. The entrance ticket is valid until the close of the museum with the right to return.
If you are tired, but want to come and see something else, put a stamp on the ticket at the guard, then you can come back the same day.
The most famous paintings of the Prado in Madrid are Portrait of the Cardinal by Rafael Santi, The Three Graces by Rubens, The Triumph of Death by Bruegel the Elder, The Haystacks by Bosch, and Knight with Hand on Chest by El Greco. You’ll also find many Hellenistic and ancient sculptures taken out of Rome.
In addition to art, there are jewelry, tableware, and arts and crafts waiting for you. There is a cafeteria in the museum building, where you can relax and have a snack.
The museum has a good souvenir store: there are book publications in Russian, stylish souvenirs and much more.
The paintings are placed very intelligently and quietly. While visiting the Prado Gallery (Madrid), there is no feeling of being inundated with masterpieces.
If you have time, divide the first and second floors on different days.
For an additional fee you can take an audio guide in Russian. But according to the claims of tourists there is not enough information in it. If you speak English, it is better to take an audio guide in English: there is more information, it is systematic and interesting.
15 masterpieces of the Prado
Admission ticket for adults costs 14 euros. For 23 euros you can buy a ticket together with the official museum prospectus. Very literate and well published. Every day from 18:00 to 20:00 (except holidays) there is free admission.
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00 to 20:00, Sundays (and public holidays) 10:00 to 19:00.
Address: Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014 Madrid, Spain Official website: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/
Official video of the museum
Map of the museum in Russian
In a museum like this you want to see absolutely everything, but it can take years. Here are the plans of the museum with routes and main exhibits which people from all over the world come to see: