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MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO

One of the world’s finest art galleries, the Prado has at its core the Royal Collection of mainly 16th- and 17th-century paintings. Its strongest suit is Spanish painting: artists include Goya with 114 paintings on display, and Velázquez with 50. The Italian collection includes masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and Tintoretto. The Prado owns more than 90 works by Rubens, and canvases by leading Flemish and Dutch artists. A wing designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, in the restored cloister of the Jerónimos Monastery, hosts temporary exhibitions and Renaissance sculpture from the permanent collection. The north attic was reopened in 2018, allowing room for 1,700 works.

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info Paseo del Prado • 913 30 28 00; for advance tickets call 902 10 70 77 • www.museodelprado.esOpen 10am–8pm Mon–Sat, 10am–7pm Sun & public hols; 6 Jan, 24 & 31 Dec: 10am–2pm; closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 25 Dec • Adm €15, €7.50 (concessions); adm & guide book €24; free 6–8pm Mon–Sat, 5–7pm Sun

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  • There’s a museum shop, restaurant and café; food cannot be brought in from outside the museum.
  • To visit all of Madrid’s art highlights buy a ticket for the Art Walk (El Paseo del Arte), a combined ticket for the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía. It’s available at all three museums and costs €29.60.
TopTen

1. St Dominic Presiding over an Auto-de-Fé

Spanish artist Pedro Berruguete (c.1445–1503) was influenced by the Italians. This painting from around 1495 shows St Dominic sitting in judgment with members of the Inquisition.

2. The Adoration of the Shepherds

Born in Crete, El Greco (1541–1614) was given his nickname (“The Greek”) after settling in Toledo in 1577. This inspirational 1612 masterpiece was intended for his own tomb.

TopTen

The Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco

3. Jacob’s Dream

José de Ribera (1591-1652) reveals his mastery in Jacob’s Dream, a painting relating to Jacob the Patriarch’s mysterious dream as told in the Genesis. This artwork (c.1639) displays José’s excellent compositional ability and his delicate sense of colour.

TopTen

Jacob’s Dream by José de Ribera

4. Nude Maja

This famous portrait (c.1795–1800) by Francisco Goya (1746–1828) is one of the rare examples of a nude in a Spanish painting of the time. It is one of a pair – the Clothed Maja is in the same room for comparison.

5. Holy Family with Little Bird

Like his contemporary Francisco de Zurbarán, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–82) worked in and around Seville, mainly in the decoration of convents and monasteries. This beautiful work (1650), painted with fluent brushstrokes, is typical of his style.

6. Las Meninas

This virtuoso exercise in perspective (1656) is by Diego Velázquez (1599–1660). Flanking the Infanta Margarita are two ladies-in-waiting (las Meninas). The scene also includes the artist, with paintbrush and palette in hand.

TopTen

Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez

7. The Spinners

This painting (c.1657) by Velázquez is an allegory based on the legend of the weaver Arachne.

TopTen

The Spinners by Diego Velázquez

8. St Jerome

José de Ribera (1591–1652) painted this 1615 depiction of St Jerome in 1644. Like many Spanish artists of the period, Ribera was influenced by Caravaggio.

9. The Meadow of St Isidore

This 1788 Goya landscape brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the San Isidro celebrations (see San Isidro) and the clear light of spring.

10. The Third of May 1808: The Shootings on Príncipe Pío Hill

In this dramatic 1814 painting, Goya captures the execution of the leaders of the ill-fated insurrection against the French. The illuminated, Christ-like figure (see Goya’s “Black Paintings”) represents the spirit of freedom being mowed down by the forces of oppression.

MUSEUM GUIDE

The main upper and lower Goya entrances have ticket vending machines outside and ticket desks inside. For disabled access, use the Los Jerónimos entrance. In the Villanueva Building, the second floor has paintings from 1700 to 1800; paintings from 1550 to 1810 are on the first floor; paintings from 1100 to 1910 and sculptures are on the ground floor; and decorative arts are in the basement. The Jerónimos Building has sculptures and temporary exhibitions.

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