Museo del Prado: A Jewel of Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid, the fast-paced cosmopolitan capital city of Spain, you simply must take some time out of your busy itinerary to soak up the magnificent art and aura of the Museo del Prado.  Renowned for its European art, dating back from the 12th through the 19th century, the Museo del Prado is the undisputed national art museum of Spain and is home to the largest and most impressive collections of Spanish art on the planet.

El Prado, as the museum is known to locals, currently houses over 7,500 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and more than 8,000 drawings, in addition to other pieces, including a fascinating display of historical documents.  Visitors of the museum can peruse the works of such greats as Velazquez, Titian, Rubens, Bosch and Goya, the artist most extensively represented in this awe-inspiring collection.

Located in the heart of downtown Madrid in the Paseo del Prado, the Museo del Prado is one of the most oft-visited sites, not just in Spain but the world.  Nearly 3 million people flock to the museum each year—a museum ranked 11th in the world for its wide variety of artistic displays, featuring artists from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain and Greece.  One of the premiere pieces in the collection is Las Meninas by Velazquez, the artist said to be responsible for bringing the collections of the Italian masters to Spain.

Tourists can literally get lost in the beauty that is Museo del Prado, a beauty that extends to the design of the building itself. Construction on El Prado, which boasts a unique architectural design, began in 1785 during the reign of Charles III, with the intention of giving Madrid a monumental urban space to call its known.  Improvements continued to be made on the building through the reign of Ferdinand VII, and in November of 1819, under his rule, the museum assumed what would be its original name:  the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

When visiting the Museo del Prado, be sure to ask the locals and museum staff about some of the fun facts associated with the museum, perhaps the most interesting of which is the fact that it once housed Napoleon’s cavalry and gun powder during the War of Independence.  Trouble abounded in those times, and amid concerns about being able to preserve and protect the massive amount of art in the museum during the war, the entire collection was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland.  It was finally returned to Madrid, unscathed, during the 1940s, where it continues to delight and awe eager museum-goers from around the world with its rich history and undeniable beauty.