Popular among many types of travelers around the globe, Madrid is certainly one of the most popular destinations for all of those art lovers who cannot imagine a trip without visiting some museums, galleries and monuments that can provide a perfect glimpse into the culture of a country and the civilization that has been settled there. Besides getting to know the culture, one also gets to learn about the time that has produced the art work, and how different art movements affected artists throughout the centuries.
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is located in the central position of the country and it has always been the place where different cultures meet and intertwine. It has also been a place where influential art movements originated, together with the painters, sculptures and architects that are now globally famous for their art works. Hence, a visit to Madrid is an amazing opportunity to see the roots of the city that nurtured the art movements from the past centuries, which is why we will suggest you several art tours of Madrid.
Huertas or the Barrio de las Letras
Known as the center of intellectual and literary life, Huertas neighborhood is a vibrant part of the city located in the central area, near the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. If you decide to stay in this part of the city and rent an apartment in the center of Madrid, you will love this neighborhood as it is considered to be the Heart of Golden Age of Madrid. Important figures of Spanish art and literature, such as Cervantes, Quevedo, and Góngora called this part of the city their home, which is why the neighborhood is often referred to as the neighborhood of literacy – the Barrio de las Letras. Today the district is the heart of the city’s cultural life, with lots of theatres, art exhibitions and bohemian cafes, and as you enjoy a nice stroll down the streets and pedestrian areas you will get to experience Madrid as it was in the eyes of the great names of literature and culture who have defined intellectual life of Madrid.
Huertas neighborhood in Madrid
Image source: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Neighborhood-g187514-n7249719-Huertas-Madrid.html#photos
Francisco Goya and the 18th century Madrid
If you want to get acquainted with the life in Madrid during the 18th century, while enjoying the art works of one of the most influential Spanish artist, Franicsco de Goya, we suggest visiting several landmarks where you will get in touch with the amazing master pieces produced by Goya. Baroque church of San Francisco el Grande has an altarpiece produced by Goya, as well as San Antonio de la Florida, a small oratory, which has been decorated by this artist. Of course, the Prado Museums holds some of the major Goya’s masterpieces, so a tour around the museum is perhaps the best way to complete the tour of the exhibits that were produced by Goya. As you explore the works of Goya in Madrid, you will definitely get the idea of life and culture of the period which he managed to capture in his art works.
Goya’s painting The Third of May 1808, (1814) stored in the Prado Museum, Madrid
Image source: http://www.franciscodegoya.net/May-3–1808.html
Private collections of Spanish monarch are available in some of the museum in the city, so if you are interested in seeing the life through the eyes of royals who once represented the kingdom of Spain, this type of tour will be perfectly suited for you. We start with the Prado Museum, as the most important one in the Golden Triangle of Art, and the one that preserves some of the most famous masterpieces. Walking along the museum allows you to trace Spanish history and how it affected the art collected and preserved by the members of Spanish royal family. After the tour around the Prado Museum, we suggest visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Today this building is used for the state ceremonies and it is open for visitors. The Royal tour of Madrid is not complete without visiting the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, located in the Paseo del Prado, next to the Prado Museum. Designed by Francesco Sabatini and Juan de Villanueva in the 18th century, the garden represents a massive collection of thousands of plants and numerous statues and monuments placed around the garden.
Hall of the Prado Museum
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_hall_d%27exposition_au_Mus%C3%A9e_du_Prado.JPG
The 20th Century Art in Madrid
The best place to visit in Madrid if you are interested in the 20th century art is the Reina Sofía Museum, located along the Paseo del Prado, very near the Prado Museum. The impressiveness of the collections is mirrored in the number of masterpieces produced by some of the most influential artists of the 20th century, with Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, being certainly two most famous. Other art works stored in this museum are produced by Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Pablo Gargallo, Pablo Serrano and many others Spanish and international artists. The most famous masterpiece and the highlight of every visit is certainly Picasso’s Guernica, which is stored in the Reina Sofía Museum. Through this visit you get to experience the art as it developed throughout the 20th century, the period of huge changes and rapid development of the civilization, which ultimately left its trace on the art movements as well.
Picasso’s Guernica stored in the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid
Image source: http://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp
Private Collection Tour in Madrid
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is known as having the second largest private collection in the world, after the British Royal Collection. Over 1600 paintings are enough for the art lovers out there to want to visit this amazing museum, the final one in the Golden Triangle of Art, also located in the Paseo del Prado. The museum combines the art works from different time periods, so you can see a large collection of old art works, as well as some modern paintings, with masterpieces ranging between the 14th century and the 20th century modern art. The diversity of the collection comes from the fact that there have been three generations collecting the art works, that today make an impressive collection of art works exploring expressionism, cubism, baroque, impressionism, and post-impressionism. Visiting this museum shows how the collection of paintings has grown overtime and how passionate art connoisseurs managed to gather some of the most famous art works around the world.
View of Vessenots, Auvers, by Vincent Van Gogh is stored in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Image source: http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/ficha_obra/395
Tour to The City of Toledo
Toledo is a small town around 70 kilometers of Madrid and it dates centuries back, with its winding cobbled streets of old town, which preserve the spirit of the past and the culture of people who settled throughout the centuries. It is often considered as a monument to the art and culture starting from the Roman’s settlement to the Renaissance. During that period, Toledo was under Visigoth and Muslim rule as well, and all of these cultures influence the landscape and the buildings which are preserved as a unique attraction. The impressive Gothic Cathedral located on the top of the hill is certainly worth visiting, as besides the baroque style that adorns the altar, the Cathedral also has an art gallery, featuring Rubens, Goya, and El Greco’s art works. The Museo Victorio Macho should be your next stop in the sightseeing of Toledo, as it is a small museum devoted to the local sculptor, Victorio Macho. The Alcazar, a large square building in the outskirts of Toledo, displays the presence of Roman camp. Walking around Toledo’s streets is a perfect way to get lost in the medieval culture and art, and enjoy the beautiful landscape off the city that has such a long history.
View of Toledo’s landcapse
Image source: http://wikitravel.org/en/File:Toledo_spain.jpg
As you explore the city of Madrid and how it has changed and developed through the centuries, you will be able to learn so much about the circumstances that lead to the city becoming what it is today, a huge metropolitan city, full of diversity and yet build upon such a strong cultural heritage that is still shaping the generations of people. And if you are still having doubts about how to organize your art tour of Madrid, we suggest combining the things you would like to see the most, with your schedule and the time period you are going to spend in the city, so that you have enough time to enjoy and admire the art works.