Sunday, January 22, 2012

Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Museo del Prado is Madrid's premier tourist attraction and one of the 'must see' sights in Spain. It is one of the best museums in the world. Currently there are around 18,000 items in the Prado's collection including 8,600 pictures.
They are not any old common or garden pictures either - there are over a hundred Goyas and many by Rubens, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Bosch, Velázquez and others. The Prado not only has the finest collection of Spanish art but also the most important works of Flemish and Italian painting as well as notable examples of the French, German and English schools.
It was originally founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture but it also has important collections of drawings, prints, coins, medals and other art-related items. 
Like all major museums, it is impossible to see everything on one visit so what are the 'must see' items. Personal taste must obviously influence what works of art the visitor chooses to see. However, many experts believe that Velázquez's masterpiece 'Las Meninas (Maids of Honour)' is the best painting in the World. Other 'top of the range' masterpieces include:

'The Garden of Delights'
'The Triumph of Death'
'David and Goliath'
'Self Portrait'
El Greco
'Nobleman with a hand on his chest'
'The Holy Family'
'The Three Graces'
'The Bacchanal'
'Emperor Charles V in Mühlberg'

The Prado building is pretty impressive. It is an 18th-century neoclassical palace commissioned by Charles III in 1785 and designed by architect Juan de Villanueva. It was opened to the public in 1819 as the Royal Museum of Painting. Later, in 1868, it was renamed as the National Museum of the Prado.

File: Entrance to the Royal Museum for San Jerónimo.jpg Side
 northern facade of the Museo del Prado
as painted by Fernando Brambila (1763 - 1832)

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