Monday, April 23, 2018

Prado Museum: The Crown Jewel of Spanish Art

Madrid is paradise for museum lovers, with some of the best museums in the world, including the world-famous Museo Del Prado, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, which are all located by one of the main boulevards of Madrid: The Paseo del Prado, the oldest urban garden in Madrid, earning the area the name of “The Golden Triangle of Art.” The Prado however is the crown jewel with the most comprehensive collection of Spanish art in the world. Its walls are lined with masterpieces from the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools, including Velázquez’ Las Meninas and Goya’s Third of May, 1808. Founded in 1819 thanks to the determination of Queen Isabella of Braganza, the 18th-century Neo-Classical building that was initially designed to house the Natural History Museum, finally accommodated an important part of the royal collections. Years of private donations and acquisitions enlarged the museum's collection which now comprises one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art.

Having made prior arrangements for a private tour of the Prado with an expert art historian, we were given an excellent opportunity to appreciate the history of Spain through the works of Velasquez — the most important Spanish painter of the 17th-century — and Goya — the most talented Spanish artist of his time. Both artists had much in common, especially a rebellious spirit against the institutions of their époques and innovative techniques that were later applied by numerous great painters. Enjoying a fascinating 2-hour private tour of these two extraordinary painters who broke the rules of style and paved the way to modern expression, our guide focused on the artistic and political prominence with which they endowed their masterpieces. A unique and unforgettable Prado experience, we then continued on a private tour of Old Madrid, that of the Hapsburgs, with its narrow streets and fascinating history.

Sculpture of Velasquez outside the Prado 

The vast interior with the most comprehensive collection of Spanish art in the world

Las Meninas by Velasquez

Goya's 3rd of May

Juana the Mad Holding Vigil over the Coffin of Her Late Husband, Philip the Handsome, by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, 1877

Central panel of Jheronimus Bosch 'Garden of Earthly Delights', c 1500

The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest by El Geco, 1580

A grand arcaded square, Madrid's Plaza Mayor was first built in 1580 during Philip III's reign and was the town's most popular market towards the end of the 15th century

Bronze statue of King Philip III at the centre of the square, 
created in 1616 by Jean Boulogne and Pietro Tacca

A rare but expansive opening in the tightly packed streets of central Madrid, this square is a winning combination of imposing architecture and vibrant street life coursing across its cobblestones

 Lined with charming Baroque architecture, stylish boutiques, Plaza Mayor is a marvellous but pricey place to relax, enjoy some good Spanish wine, sample some tapas and watch life go by

Fresh Tomato and Lettuce Salad with a cold Spanish beer on a hot sunny day 
at Café Zarra on Plaza Mayor

Manchego and Jamón

Chorizo with Patatas Bravas 

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