Art Overdose

Madrid is an art lover’s paradise.

From el Museo Nacional Arqueológico to the Prado, once can see millenniums of portraiture, sculpture, architecture and prehistoric cave drawings.

In a few short days I scoured no less than five of the world’s greatest collections of art and artifacts. In addition to Museo Nacional Arqueólogo, I visited the following (with a brief description of the highlights of each):

Museo Thyssen-BornemiszaHome of one of the world’s most distinguished private art collections, this museum’s permanent collection spans a period from the late 13th century to the 1980s. Old masters, Renaissance and Baroque art, the Dutch school and Modern Paintings, including Cubism and Surrealism, covers seven centuries of the history of painting.

The Prado: The name, the reputation, the history speaks for itself. Unfortunately photos were prohibited, so I can only tease you with the names of the incredible works I was able to see. Velázquez -Las Meninas and The Spinners,    Titian – Bacchanal of the Adrian’s, Charles V,       Raphael  – The Cardinal and Madonna of the Fish, Caravaggio – David Victorious over Goliath,  Rubens –  The Three Graces and Adoration  of the Magi,     Heronymous Bosch  –  The Garden of Earthly Delights and Table of the Seven Deadly Sins,   Goya  – The Third of May and Saturn devouring his Child,   Dürer –  Portrait and Adam and Eve,   El Greco – The Holy Trinity and Knight with his hand on his Chest,   Fra Angelico – The Annunciation,   Antonella da Messina – The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel,  Rembrandt, Van Dyck.

Museo Nacional Arqueólogico The collection includes, among others, Prehistoric, Egyptian, Celtic, Iberian, Greek and Roman antiquities and medieval (Visigothic, Islamic Spanish and Christian) objects.

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The Lady of Elche was discovered at L’Alcúdia, an archaeological site near Elche, Spain. It is known as an Iberian artifact from the 4th century BC, with Hellenistic influences. According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the Lady of Elche is believed to have a direct association with Tanit, the goddess of Carthage, who was worshiped by the Phonecian-Iberians.

Real Academia  de Bellas Artes: This academy, founded in 1752 during the reign of Fernando VI, was a place of study for painters, sculptors and architects. The Academia is one of the best art galleries in Spain, displaying collections that span 5 centuries and giving an overview of the history of art from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. In addition to paintings and sculpture, the museum exhibits drawings, photographs, furniture, objects of silver and gold, porcelain and other decorative arts. The Goya rooms hold the second largest collection of the master’s work in the world.  El Greco, Rubens, Sorrolla and Picasso are also on display.

Museo Reina Sofía is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, and one of the art museums comprising the Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Certainly, the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s painting Guernica. The Reina Sofía collection has works by artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Luis Gordillo, Juan Gris, José Gutiérrez Solana, Joan Miró, Lucio Muñoz, Jorge Oteiza, Pablo Serrano, and Antoni Tàpies.

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Madrid!

When exploring a new city for the first time, I make sure to go around the block once or twice, then slowly branch out from there….making note of the parallel and perpendicular streets and landmarks. It saves time later and keeps me from getting lost.

Madrid is glorious! Modern, sophisticated and spotlessly clean, this Spanish capital is     beautiful, with spectacular buildings from historic architectural periods, including Baroque, Gothic and Neo-classical; an abundance of large, safe public parks and tree-lined avenues; heaps of trendy shopping spots with prices ranging from rock bottom department stores (Primark) to expensive designer boutiques, specializing in everything from shoes, handbags and stockings to styles hot off the runways.

Madrid has a gentle, quiet and well planned system of public transport with the Metro underground rail being the star attraction. (I say “gentle” in comparison to NYC’s screeching, graffiti-riddled subway trains, and well planned in the sense that it is easy to understand, even for someone who is new to the city and doesn’t speak the language).

The people are friendly and helpful, the city is crammed with world class art museums and a plethora of massive cathedrals, the tap water is delicious and safe to drink, and, as far as I can tell, crime is not an issue.

While Madrid’s street plan is archaic and confusing, the grand plazas, roundabouts, spectacular fountains and statues create an aura of spaciousness, even on crowded streets near packed tourist attractions. Outdoor cafes abound; the coffee is excellent; and prices are reasonable, and don’t vary much between residential and business or tourist areas.

Of course Madrid is a Mecca for tourists, students and international business people. With several lavish Royal palaces, including Palacio Real (former home of  King Phillipe V, the grandson of French King Louis XIV), the Palacio de Liria, the Santa Cruz Palacio, and Palacio de Cibeles Centro Centro, one can get a glimpse of what being in the top 2% of wealth was like during centuries past.

Madrid is also home to the Prado (Museo Nacional de Prado), the Real Academia de Belles Artes, the Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sophia, the Thyssen-Bornemizma Museum, a naval museum, the Sorolla Museum, and the Museo Arquelogico. Where else can you see Carravagio, Rembrandt, Reuben’s, Goya, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Velazquez, Raphael, Titian and Heironymous Bosch in the same day?

Home to the notorious Spanish Inquisition of Queen Isabella and King Fernando in the Middle Ages, Madrid’s cathedrals and monestaries are some of the most spectacular in Christendom. The Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, the Catedral de las Almudena, the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony de La Florida, and the Monestario de las Descalzas Reales boast items such as holy relics, like pieces of the True Cross, some of the bones of St. Sebastian, the burial place of Goya, the site on which St. Francis of Assissi built a chapel in 1217, and marble sculptures, and artwork by Titian, Reubens, Breughel the Elder, Goya and Pacheco (Velazquez’s teacher and father-in-law). There is even an Egyptian temple, called the Templo de Debod, that dates back to the 2nd Century B.C., that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid.

This world class city has something for everyone and every taste, so be sure to include it on your Bucket List!