Destination Museum: Museo Nacional Del Prado – Madrid

Madrid - Museo Nacional del Prado in morning dusk

Museo Nacional Del Prado takes pride of place near the centre of the Spanish capital, Madrid. Together with Museo Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, it forms the city’s famed Golden Triangle of Art.

Regarded as one of the world’s premier art institutions, it is especially peerless with regard to its collection of Spanish masters like Goya and Velazquez, and also features a formidable series of creations from other European artists – Titian, El Greco, Titian, Peter, Hieronymus Bosch and Paul Rubens are other instantly-recognizable names.

Originally, it was used as a showcase for the Spanish royal family’s paintings and sculpture collection and featured only Spanish artists. Since its inception in 1817, it has diversified considerably. Its works vary from 12th to early 19th century masterpieces.

Less than 2,000 of the museum’s 7,000 paintings are ever on display at any one time. Still, you will need at least a couple of days to discover the breadth and beauty of this eminent institution. There are also over a thousand sculptures, about 5,000 prints, over 8,200 drawings and many other artistic works and historical documents.

As was the inclination in the early 19th century, religious themes were overwhelmingly represented, together with a considerable number of paintings of the artists’ royal patrons. They still form the core of Del Prado’s catalogue. However, as the collection absorbed the works of smaller museums that closed, the themes are more diverse and there are significant works of Greek and Roman mythology.

Among works of note are Goya’s haunting 14-strong Las Pinturas Negras, Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas, the painstakingly detailed The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, the disturbing and perhaps prophetic imagery of The Triumph of Death by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and of course, Raphael’s Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. It closes at 8 p.m., except on Sunday when it closes an hour earlier. Tickets for both adults and children cost 14 Euros, but entry is free for the last two hours every day.

Tickets are available on-site at the northern side of the gallery, under Puerta de Goya, but the entrance is on the eastern side via Puerta de los Jerónimos. Online ticketing is available and will save you hours standing in a queue.

Get one of the free layout plans – they list where you can find the most prominent artist collections as well as the location of the Del Prado’s 50 most famous works.