The Museum of El Prado

The Prado is easily the most popular sight visited by international tourists visiting Madrid, the capital of Spain. It can be found within the “golden triangle” of the city which also houses two other renowned galleries. The Prado Museum is the largest art gallery in the world and it is home to many world famous paintings, sculptures, illustrations, coins and art in other mediums.

In its vaults lie over 6,600 paintings, while only 2,000 of its 8,600 strong collection are on exhibit due to restricted exhibition space. All works exhibited at The Prado were created between the 12th century and the early 1800s and the works of Europe’s greatest Old Masters can be viewed there.

The Spanish King Charles III desired to form a collection of art to be housed in a single building, and this was the origin of the Prado as we know it today. Fernando VII continued with his vision and Charles’ collection became the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

When the monarchy in Nationalist Spain fell, the collection fell into public hands and became the Prado National Museum. During the civil war in Spain, the collection was sent to Geneva in Switzerland for safekeeping and was brought back to Madrid only after WWII.

Works of Art

The Prado’s collection of paintings numbers roughly 7,800 and approximately 900 of these are currently exhibited. Spanish artists represented at the Prado include Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and Murillo. The most well known work from the Spanish School would be Velázquez’s Las Meninas.

The Prado does not only contain Spanish works, but art from all over Europe. Italian works include those by Botticelli, Tintoretto, Tiziano and Mantenga. Early Flemish art also has a high profile with paintings from Bosch and Brueghel, amongst many others. German, French and Dutch Art include works by Durer, Poussin and Rembrandt.

The Prado also owns other significant collections; including approximately 5,000 drawings and over 2,000 prints. Also housed at the Prado are around 700 sculptures and 1,000 coins and medals. A further 2,000 objects and works of art fall into the miscellaneous category.

Opening and Entrance Fees

The Prado Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Monday, with an admission fee of 6 Euros. However, between 6 and 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and between 5 and 8 p.m. on Sunday, admission is completely free. If you are an art enthusiast, taking advantage of free entry will allow you to view more of the vast collection than may be possible in one trip.

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