The art lover’s guide to Madrid

Spain’s capital city is famous for its manicured parks and elegant boulevards but what really sets it apart is its impressive art collection. Home to some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, the city is oozing artistic finesse. With its Golden Triangle housing some of the most sought after bodies of work, exhibitions in Madrid are unrivalled. In a town where even the streets themselves could be works of art, you can immerse yourself in creative culture round every corner. Here’s five of the best places to see famous art in Madrid.

1. Museo del Prado – Paseo del Prado

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Praised across the globe as one of the best galleries to view art, Museo del Prado sits in the heart of the city and forms one point of the Golden Triangle. Known for its collection of religious and Renaissance art, the superb assortment of paintings and sculptures are housed in a colossal neo-classical building. The Spanish national art museum displaying the royal collection was one of the first public art galleries the world has ever seen. Proud keeper of the famous Francisco Goya collection, wander through its halls and see some well-renowned classics such as “Las Meninas”, painted by Velazquez, depicting the royal family during the reign of King Philip IV, Boschs, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and Rogier van der Weyden’s “Descent from the Cross”. For the most pleasant experience, head to the gallery in the evening time to avoid paying the entry fee and throngs of people queuing. 

2. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia – Calle de Santa Isabel 52

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Officially opened in 1992, Spain’s national museum of 20th century art is located at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle. Named after Queen Sofia, the home of modern art is most visited for its Pablo Picasso, “Guernica”, which depicts the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. In addition, the dominating slab-sided building designed by Ian Ritchie, also hosts the Salvador Dali collection featuring his most famous works such as the dripping clocks. Take the glass lifts up to the top floor and revel in the panoramic city views on your way up. stop for a bite to eat at the trendy Nubel restaurant connected to the museum and explore the courtyard out the back with its triangular zinc and aluminium roof. Bursting with artistic gems, art lovers will be drooling at its exhibitions. 

3. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Paseo del Prado 8

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Neighbouring the Prado, the Thyssen completes the triangle with its extravagant private collection. The permanent collection belongs to Baroness Thyssen, hence the gallery’s name and is widely considered the most important in the world. Consisting of 775 paintings, it was purchased by the Spanish state in 1993 and has been attracting millions of visitors ever since. Housed in the 19th century Palacio de Villahermosa, the building constructed by Rafael Moneo has undergone incredible renovations to now include terracotta-pink walls, marble floors and skylights. Walking round this show-space is a daytrip in itself and every room you enter is guaranteed to leave you awe-struck. 

4. Real Academia de Bellas Arts de San Fernando – Calle de Alcala 13

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Established in 1744, the museum and gallery can be found in the heart of the city. The academy-turned-exhibition house is a little off the beaten track, meaning you can take a look around without having to elbow eager onlookers out of the way to catch a glimpse of a painting. Spanning across five centuries of Spanish and Italian art, discover thousands of pieces of fine and decorative arts including tapestries, porcelain, medals, furniture, ceramics, watches and the second largest collection of works by Goya. The 59 galleries in the building each offer something unique so take your time, unwind and lose yourself in some of the world’s most eclectic art works. 

5. Caixa Forum – Paseo del Prado 36

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Hosting innovative events each month, this space dedicated to the exploration of art, never stands still. Located next to the Reina Sofia in the middle of the Art Triangle, the Caixa Forum holds plenty of temporary exhibits related to fashion, photography, archaeology and artefacts. A cool feature of this place is the vertical gardens that sits at 24 metres high in the large square outside. Designed by Patrick Blanc, the grass wall features 15,000 plants of 250 different species. Get your cameras out, fix your hair and get ready to spam your Instagram with candid photos beside the quirky structure.


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Flights to Madrid


- Lucy Norris