A world-renowned art museum with some of Europe’s most important masterpieces on display, this is an essential part of any Madrid tourist itinerary.
The Prado Museum has gained a reputation as one of the leading repositories of Western art in the world. It is an enormous space with an enormous collection, and you'd do well to devote at least a day of your stay in Madrid to the perusal of its many halls. The permanent collection here boasts some 20,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, and of these there are roughly 1,300 on display in the halls at any given time. You'll see the best collection of Spanish art here that you're likely to ever come across, alongside works by French, Italian, Dutch and Flemish masters. There are also a handful of works from Germany and England.
The museum was originally commissioned by King Carlos III in 1785 as a gallery to exhibit Spanish art and contemporary tastes. After it opened to the public in 1819, the Royal Collection was continually built upon and expanded to include works of art from other European nations, including statues from Ancient Greece and Rome.
Today, the works housed here include masterpieces by Rubens, Botticelli, Titian, Bosch, Dürer and many others. Among the more famous Spanish masterpieces is Velázquez’s Las Meninas, which may be the most popular work of art in the Prado. Goya's Black Paintings are also a favourite. These began life as murals that were painted on the walls of Goya's house between 1819 and 1823.
The Museo del Prado is within comfortable walking distance of the Puerta del Sol. Just take Carrera de San Jerónimo down to the end until you hit the Paseo del Prado, and you’re basically there. Other than New Year's Day, Christmas Day and 1 May, the museum is open every day of the year. Discounts on entrance charges are available for students and seniors on production of valid ID.