Begin at the Prado Museum, one of the most visited monuments in Madrid, and not just because the breathtaking neoclassical facades. Built in the late 1700s, the Prado began showcasing art in the early 1800s. Predominantly featuring paintings, it also has sculptures and prints among thousands of works dating from the 1200s. The most famous pieces include “Las Meninas” (The Maids of Honor), an inventive self-portrait by Spanish-born Velázquez, and “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a triptych from Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The Prado houses the largest collection of Italian masterpieces outside of Italy, featuring works like “The Annunciation” by Fra Angelico and “David and Goliath” by Caravaggio. With your expert guide, you’ll hear all about the stories and scandals behind artists including Goya, Rembrandt, El Greco, and others.
Next, enter the Reina Sofia Museum, housing one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. In the 1990s, a former hospital was renovated and turned into the Reina Sofia, home to 20th century art mostly from Spanish artists. Your expert guide will discuss the various artistic movements on display here, including abstractionism, cubism, surrealism, and modernism. You’ll learn all about Spain’s most famous artistic export, Pablo Picasso, while standing in front of his world-changing painting, “Guernica.” You’ll see works by Joan Miró, like “The Man with a Pipe,” as well as Salvador Dali’s “Face of the Great Masturbator,” learning about the techniques and stories behind these sometimes offbeat works of art. Your guide will situate all of these works in their larger social and political contexts, allowing you to understand how events like the Spanish Civil War shaped these artists’ lives and works. By the end, you’ll have experienced one of Spain’s, and the world’s, most exquisite collections of contemporary art, which no trip to Madrid should go without.